Between the Lines – Witches, Midwives and Nurses (live)

25 Nov 2021    20:00   /   Boekenclub@Nest

‘Between the lines’ is a reading café where we read and collectively discuss books, essays, poetry and articles. The text selection is made by curators and exhibiting artist(s). The group consists of max. 10 people and is led by changing discussion leaders.

“Women have always been healers. They were the unlicensed doctors and anatomists of western history. They were abortionists, nurses and counsellors. They were pharmacists, cultivating healing herbs and exchanging the secrets of their uses. They were midwives, travelling from home to home and village to village.

In this edition we take a closer look at the pamphlet Witches, Midwives & Nurses (1973) by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English. Starting from the exhibition Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers? that explores the political potential of flowers, the reading group will focus on the first part of the pamphlet, “Witchcraft and Medicine in the Middle Ages.” The reading group will be moderated by co-curator of the exhibition, Eva Burgering, and  CPR, one of the participating artists, will compose a special recipe for a healing drink for the participants of the online session.

Just as the artists in the exhibition show that flowers can be used as a comforting tool, geopolitical statement, feminist symbol or queer expression, the authors of Witches, Midwives & Nurses also argue that flowers and plants have a long history of political tension. It were women with herbal knowledge, healing powers or medicinal plant knowledge who were persecuted as witches for centuries. Ehrenreich and English argue that these witch persecutions are strongly linked to the founding of today’s medical profession.

Prior to the reading group, we would like to invite you to read the pamphlet attentively. (Mail us if you don’t have access to the pamflet:

During the evening we will discuss various themes surrounding the exhibition and the pamphlet. In times when abortion rights are under pressure, herbal medicine or homeopathic remedies are often at odds with the professional medical profession and women in positions of power are dismissed as witches, we search for modern rituals and contemporary magic in the reading group. How can we view the pamphlet, written during the second wave of feminism, from a contemporary perspective? What can the witches of the past teach us about our contemporary reality?

Date: Thursday 25th of November at Nest
Language: Dutch
Time: 20.00 – 21.30
Book: Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English, Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, 1973.

Tickets: €5,- (for the publication and reading assignments prior to the event)

This program is part of Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers?

Thanks to

Gemeente Den Haag
Stroom Den Haag
Stichting Stokroos
Centraal Museum

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