Midwif is the Old English form of midwife, combining mid, meaning together with wif, meaning woman. This site connects artists, writers and researchers around the figure of midwif, as a knot at the centre of an entanglement of ideas around women’s medicinal plant knowledge and practices, and histories of their attempts at reproductive autonomy.

Midwif is affiliated to the deep histories fragile memories research constellation at Luca School of Arts Brussels; to the Lieven Gevaert Centre, Faculty of Arts, KU Leuven; to Netwerk Kunsthalle Aalst; to Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC); and to Piet Zwart Institute, Willem De Kooning Academy Rotterdam

The context of this collaborative investigation is the ongoing project of artist Wendy Morris, Nothing of Importance Occurred: Recuperating a Herball for a 17th century Enslaved Angolan Midwife at the Cape (2018-2023).

An Alarming Taste

Bitterness is the hallmark of many poisonous plants. It is the warning flavour that signals something unsavoury is about to happen.
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Cuttencruyt

Dit heel cruydeken is van eene seer vuylen reuck, selfs den bedorven ende verrotten gesauten Visch, ende het stinckende Peekel oft Vischsop, met sijnen moeyelijcken jae afgrijselijcken stank verre te boven gaende…
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History of Queen Anne’s Lace as a contraceptive

In the summer of 2019 I collected wild carrot seed from waste ground and street verges within a one kilometre radius around my house in West Flanders and from the gardens of wild flowers planted in the city of Aalst by its head gardener Bart Backaert. The ripe seed heads are easy to identify as they turn inwards to take…
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Miss Efficient

Bitter melon is known as Miss Efficient in Nigeria for its certainty as an abortifacient. In Cameroon the seeds are used as a pessary. In Nigeria a decoction of the leaves and salt is taken as a ‘morning-after’ remedy after …
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Tansy, Feverfew and Mullein. Receptaria: Hildegard von Bingen

Tansy emmenagogue A woman who is in pain from obstructed menses should take TANSY (Tanacetum vulgare) and equal weight FEVERFEW (Tanacetum parthanium), a bit more MULLEIN (Verbascum) than either of the others. She should cook these in water FROM A FREELY FLOWING STREAM which is tempered by the SUN AND AIR.
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L’erba delle donne

This book contains eleven studies on the history of women in the defense of health, demonstrating how, even if the ruling class has historically used academic medicine, huge masses, underpowered and over-exploited…
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Accabadora

In 2009, Sardinian writer Michela Murgia, -an extremely original writer and often politically provocative figure, with a sustained commitment to women’s issues and to the traditions of her birthplace, Sardinia-, wrote her widely acclaimed book Accabadora.
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Uti var hage : Out in our meadow

Out in our meadow the blueberries grow If you want me, we’ll meet there. Refrain: Kom, rosor och salivia, kom, luva krusmynta, kom, hjärtan fröjd. (Come roses or sage, come lovely mint, come, heart’s delight/balm) Pretty little flowers there invite …
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Parsley, Parsley

Parsley, parsley, good for soup, growing in our garden. An is going to be a bride, so best not wait much longer, if she wants to go to church, without her belly in the lurch. Plattdeutsch original: Petersiljen, Soppenkruut…
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The Wandering Womb: Notes for a Work

‘Notes for a work’ is the six page text that I gave composer and vocalist Mariske Broeckmeyer as material for the sound work in ‘Travelogue of the Wandering Womb: Her Fantastic Encounters and Curious Utterings’.
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