Making Visible Embryos

‘Making Visible Embryos’ is a really striking project by Tatjana Buklijas and Nick Hopwood 2008–2010  (University of Cambridge and Welcome Trust collaboration)

I found that with early miscarriage one of the difficulties can be reconciling the depth of feeling and grief with a life that may have barely started (though start it did). This site provides a historical context for our relationship with embryos and has helped me understand the powerful effect of our ‘imaginings and visualising’ of the internal world 0f the maternal body and life within the uterus.

“Images of human embryos are everywhere. We see them in newspapers, clinics, classrooms, laboratories, family albums and on the internet. Debates about abortion, assisted conception, cloning and Darwinism have sometimes made these images hugely controversial, but they are also routine. We tend to take them for granted today. Yet 250 years ago human development was still nowhere to be seen.

Developing embryos were first drawn in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Modern medicine and biology exploited technical innovations as pictures and models communicated new attitudes to childbirth, evolution and reproduction. The German universities dominated research in the nineteenth century, the United States in the twentieth. After World War II embryo images became the dominant representations of pregnancy and prominent symbols of hope and fear. Wherever we stand in today’s debates, it should enrich and may challenge our understandings to explore how these icons have been made.” Text from website.




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