Sasha Turner is an Associate Professor of History at The Quinnipiac University. Professor Turner has written one of the most important up to date books on women, history and reproduction Contested Bodies. At a time when maternal experiences of obstetric violence and the undermining of informed consent in childbirth is being challenged and condemned daily, I have found myself re-imagining the silent past of my ancestors and it’s influence on modern motherhood for women like myself. My own experiences of birth, fear, protection, infant feeding and mothering have frequently made me reflect on the impact of interaction between multi-agency services in the UK and black mothers. I can’t help but think there is an insidious link. When reading the book Contested Bodies it doesn’t take long to see that similar powers in force today were at play in the era of slavery. It’s hard to imagine that historical structural racism actually exists in modern times and that it has a very real impact on 21st century black mothers, if, the horrors of slavery in the past have never truly been unveiled and confronted in respect to pregnancy and childhood. All those horrors must be confronted in the pages of Contested Bodies, all that pain and suffering must be realised; and those fighting for reproductive rights will have their eyes opened that the same powers operating in the structure of British imperialism and slavery of the past, are the same powers whose structures remain firm today. What Professor Turner does in this book is humanise enslaved people who were mere records and provide thoughts and feelings to ‘body counts’. She explores what many have been too afraid to even allow their-self to think in respect to our maternal heritage. This book has allowed me to experience the maternal grieving and mourning which we have never been allowed to do.
A full review of Contested Bodies will be published soon. Below is a short video where you can learn more about Professor Sasha Turner