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Mapping Motherhood

Girls as Mothers in Contemporary Russia

Nadya Nartova

In this article, I analyze 30 biographical interviews with women who had given birth to a child before they turned 18. I discuss the discursive work that these girls do to develop their maternal practices as good and correct, and to normalize early motherhood in their biography in general. The informants see having a child as a line of discontinuity between their disadvantaged childhood and their self-reliant autonomous adulthood. At the same time, they define the idea of good motherhood not only through the internalization of, and compliance with, the dominant cultural codes, but also by relying on the biographical experience they have had.