Massachusetts Historical Society


The Translations of Our Bodies, Ourselves: Comparing Feminist Self-help Handbooks in the 1970s West Germany and the United States


Author: Claudia Roesch, German Historical Institute
Comment: Jennifer Nelson, University of Redlands

This paper investigates the transnational history of the feminist self-help handbook Our Bodies, Ourselves in the 1970s and 1980s. It follows sociologist Kathy Davis’s approach of investigating feminism as an epistemological project and examines from a history of knowledge perspective how concepts of feminist self-help travelled across the Atlantic. By taking the chapters on birth control as case studies, this paper will compare the German adaptions and translations of Our Bodies, Ourselves to the American versions and examine how different themes evolved regarding the handbooks’ position towards scientific knowledge, physicians as experts and the pharmaceutical industry.

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