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Concerning maternity. Existential questions at the beginning of life

What are existential concerns at the beginning of life? How should care at the beginning of life be organized? Every human is brought into the world through the woman’s body, however, there is surprisingly little research conducted on mothers’ perspectives on good care at the beginning of life. 

Current care models - understandably - aim at a maximum reduction of risks resulting in the birth of a baby and mother in good health. However, the varieties of experiencing new life, the impact and meaning of carrying a child and nurturing it after birth is undervalued and underthematized in academia and society. This symposium focuses on existential concerns at the beginning of life from the perspectives of those closely involved in the care of new life: mothers, fathers and professional caregivers. 


Note: The program has been changed, due to illness of one of the speakers, Hanneke van der Meiden.

10:00-10:10 Welcome by Joanna Wojtkowiak

10:10-11:00 “Spirituality and childbirth: experience, existential meaning and practice” Keynote by Prof. Susan Crowther

11:00-11:30 Conversation with keynote speaker

11:30-12:00 Coffee and Thee Break

12:00-12:15 “Expecting: to conceive a philosophy of pregnancy” by Rodante van der Waal

12:15-12:50 Discussion with audience and dialogue with both speakers

12:50-13:00 Conclusion and farewell

The keynote speaker is Prof. Susan Crowther, professor of midwifery at Robert Gordon University, UK. Prof. Crowther has been studying spirituality at the beginning of life from a phenomenological and grounded theory perspective. She is co-author of “Spirituality and childbirth: Meaning and care at the start of life” (2017). 

The second speaker is Rodante van der Waal who will discuss questions on a philosophy of pregnancy. Rodante is Master student philosophy at the University of Amsterdam and midwife-in-training. She has experience in maternity care and studies philosophical questions on pregnancy, birth and motherhood. 

Chair is Joanna Wojtkowiak, assistant professor at the University of Humanistic Studies and cultural psychologist. Her researches focuses on existential questions at the beginning and end of life with focus on embodiment, ritual and rationality.

The symposium is the first part of a two-piece expert-meeting of a new research project “Concerning maternity: ethical and existential questions at the beginning of life” conducted by  Inge van Nistelrooij &  Joanna Wojtkowiak.<

On 19 January 2018, the second symposium will take place and focus on ethical questions concerning maternity.

Image: Green Chair Stories

Contactpersoon Joanna Wojtkowiak,
Locatie Universiteit voor Humanistiek, Kromme Nieuwegracht 29, Utrecht
Datum 10-11-2017
Openingstijden 10.00 - 13.00 uur
Toegankelijkheid mensen met een beperking Please contact the information office:, 030 2390100
Toegangsprijzen Free, but registration is required