“Nature” and Motherhood

By Arlene Shaner, Acting Curator and Reference Librarian for Historical Collections

Image courtesy of Jessica Martucci.

Image courtesy of Jessica Martucci.

Our special mini-series issues related to environmental history, A World Not Quite Fatal: New Views on the History of Environmental Health, continues this Thursday, January 17, 2013, with a talk by Jessica Martucci from Mississippi State University about breastfeeding and fears of environmental contamination. Both human and animal studies from the mid-20th century suggested that toxins such as DDT might be concentrated in mother’s milk and could be transmitted to their babies. The La Leche League published a pamphlet called “DDT and Mother’s Milk” in 1972, encouraging mothers to continue to breastfeed their babies despite these concerns. Professor Martucci will look at how discussions surrounding the possible transmission of toxins through breastfeeding formed part of a larger conversation about both the “nature” of motherhood and infant feeding and a developing movement of environmental activism.

Jessica Martucci is an Assistant Professor in the History Department and Gender Studies Program and is associate member of the Center for the History of Agriculture, Science, and the Environment of the South at Mississippi State University. She received her B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently finishing her first book project, Back to the Breast: Natural Motherhood and Breastfeeding in the 20th Century.

To register for this event, click here.

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