Middle East Studies

Lecture | "Reconsidering the Origins of Family Planning in Africa: The Curious Cases of Tunisia and Morocco"

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Birkelund Boardroom, Watson Institute

Contact Professor Johnson jennifer_johnson1@brown.edu to attend.

Jennifer Johnson, assistant professor of history.

This paper explores the origins of the national family planning programs in Tunisia and Morocco during the 1960s. It moves beyond the dubious origins of the global population control movement and seeks to understand the mutually beneficial relationship between Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba and Moroccan King Hassan II with American organization the Population Council. Using Tunisian and Moroccan sources and Population Council records, it argues that after both countries gained their independence in 1956, its leaders sought to address the chronic underdevelopment of public health during the French colonial period with a series of robust reforms and international aid. Implementing a family planning program enabled Bourguiba and Hassan II to acquire significant resources that contributed to training Tunisian and Moroccan medical personnel, funding clinics and health services, and increasing the distribution and circulation of contraception. In these two men, the American donors found supportive allies in the Third World and case studies they hoped would serve as examples for similar programs in Africa and the Middle East.

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