CFP | Due 1 Sep 2022 | Infanticide in the Americas | Journal of Social History

Call for Papers

Special Issue of the Journal of Social History on “Infanticide in the Americas”

Abstracts due September 1, 2022

Complete papers due June 1, 2023

We invite papers for a special issue of the Journal of Social History on “Infanticide in the Americas.”  The special issue will be guest edited by Dr. Nora Jaffary (Concordia University) and Dr. Jane Nicholas (University of Waterloo).

Scholars have understood infanticide as a form of birth control, as a method to address the consequences of illicit sex and sexual violence, as a response to economic deprivation, and as a means of resistance against the brutalities of slavery. They have also examined various legal, economic, social, and cultural practices influencing the practice of infanticide, including its criminalization, jurists’ reluctance to enforce the full letter of the law, how ideas of sexual honor and illegitimacy influenced its perception, and the shaping of sociolegal reactions to infanticide resulting from shifts in ideologies of motherhood.  An emergent pattern across the Americas suggests that infanticide in the first half of the nineteenth century yielded less public and legal attention than occurred in the second half. By the mid-to late-nineteenth century, in jurisdictions across the Americas, courts repeatedly demonstrated reluctance to find women guilty, even as they indicted more women for infanticide and related crimes.

We encourage scholars to contribute articles to this issue that will build on existent findings about the relationship between abortion, abandonment, infant mortality, and infanticide.  How the law defined and registered infant deaths shifted across time and place and alongside the evolution of modern state apparatus, including legal codes, the introduction of birth certificates, and the official collection of vital statistics.  Shifting practices in cultural expectations of mothering from wet nursing to baby farming also influenced reactions to the discovery of dead infants and influenced state and community surveillance of women as well as modernizing societies’ novel ideas concerning childhood, child protection and welfare. Scholars developing new research examining reactions to infanticide in societies and among enslaved women, material on contraceptive history, midwifery, penal systems and community attitudes to defendants are encouraged to submit their work.

For this special issue we invite 300-word abstracts on any topic related to infanticide offering new insight into the shared patterns and unique contexts of the Americas. We wish to consider abstracts treating Indigenous, African-descended populations as well as those focusing on English, French, Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds in any time period. We aim to address a range of issues including legal, gender, medical, and religious history and welcome papers using a variety of sources including case files, newspapers, religious tracts, medical records, and literary sources among others.  Abstracts are due September 1, 2022.  A full timeline for the project is below.

The Journal of Social History is a preeminent journal in the field with an established record of publishing innovative and high-quality research. All abstracts must be based on original, unpublished research to be considered for the special issue. All papers must be successfully peer reviewed through the Journal’s standard process to be included in the final issue. Prospective authors should consult the Journal of Social History author guidelines.


Abstracts due to the guest editors by September 1, 2022

Decisions by October 15, 2022

Virtual author workshop May 2023

Final papers due to the editors for submission to the Journal June 1, 2023

Expected completion of peer review process January-March 2024

Questions and abstracts should be sent to the guest editors Nora Jaffary ( and Jane Nicholas (