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Elaine MacKinnon

This article is the story of how four women experienced, perceived, and reflected on their experiences as mothers surviving in Stalin's Gulag. It considers their subjective sense of motherhood by interrogating their memories of how they coped in

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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.

Open access

Katherine Smith

dependence becomes unimaginable, at times inarticulable, and shows that the affective dynamics of motherhood introduce a persistence of hope in the face of unimaginable futures. It demonstrates that in Harpurhey, the management of uncertainty requires a

Free access

Feminist Anthropology Anew

Motherhood and HIV/AIDS as Sites of Action

Pamela J. Downe

Ongoing discussions about feminist anthropology as an active and relevant sub-discipline largely rely on historical comparisons that pit the political fervour of the past against what is deemed to be the less defined and increasingly disengaged feminist anthropology of today. In this paper, I argue that the prevailing tone of pessimism surrounding feminist anthropology should be met with a critical response that: (1) situates the current characterization of the sub-discipline within broader debates between second- and third-wave feminism; and (2) considers the ways in which the supposed incongruity between theories of deconstruction and political engagement undermines the sub-discipline's strengths. Throughout this discussion, I consider what an ethnographic study of motherhood in the context of HIV/AIDS can offer as we take stock of feminist anthropology's current potential and future possibility.

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Decorating Mothers, Defining Maternity

The Invention of the French Family Medal and the Rise of Profamily Ideology in 1920s France

Hannah M. Stamler

This article offers a detailed analysis of the symbolism and early operation of the Family Medal, a maternity award created by the French government in 1920. Launched at a time when the women’s rights were fiercely debated and when politicians feared for the longevity of the “French race,” this article claims the medal as a revealing tool of state efforts at gender and racial retrenchment. Honoring mothers who were moral and metropolitan, the medal represented an early attempt at institutionalizing a conservative and racialized vision of motherhood that would find fuller expression in the 1939 Family Code, itself a blueprint of Vichy family law.

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"Everyday Heroines"

Nazi Visions of Motherhood in Mutterliebe (1939) and Annelie (1941)

Jo Fox

National Socialism idealized maternal bravery, selflessness, devotion, and sacrifice as essential to the health of the nation, particularly in the context of World War II. This article critically assesses the Third Reich's projection of and women's reactions to the national cult of motherhood in Gustav Ucicky's Mutterliebe (Mother Love, 1939) and Josef von Baky's Annelie (1941). Though supported by a wide range of state-sponsored socio-economic initiatives and marketing strategies, these films reveal significant tensions between the ways women imagined themselves and the lives that the regime attempted to dictate for them. Because Nazi cinema also offered female viewers the opportunity to engage in escapist fantasies of adventure and romance, making dutiful motherhood appealing was always a challenge, and grew increasingly difficult as material hardships increased over the course of the war.

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Love, Motherhood and Migration

Regulating Migrant Women's Sexualities in the Persian Gulf

Pardis Mahdavi

This article looks at the confluence of love, labour and the law by focusing on the regulation of migrant women's sexualities in the Gulf Coast Cooperation countries of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Migrant women increasingly comprise the majority of migrants to the region as the demand for intimate labour in the Persian Gulf is on the rise. But migrant women who become pregnant while in the Persian Gulf are immediately imprisoned and charged with the crime of zina. These women give birth while incarcerated and spend up to a year with their babies in prison. They are then forcibly separated from their children when they are deported, rendering the children stateless in the host country. Migrant women who are often brought to the Persian Gulf to perform (re)productive labour are seen as immoral if they engage in sexual activities during their time in the Persian Gulf (and this is written into their contracts), and thus are seen as unfit to parent their own children. Some migrant women have recently been protesting these laws by refusing and fighting deportation without their children. This article contrasts discourses about migrant women's sexuality and legal analysis with the lived experiences of selected migrant women and their children through ethnographic research conducted in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City between 2008 and 2014.

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Anne Markey

This article explores the construction of boyhood in short fiction written by Patrick Pearse, the Irish nationalist and political activist executed for his leading role in the abortive Easter Rising of 1916. Pearse’s focus on the spiritual dimension of boyhood in his first collection of Irish-language stories, Íosagán agus Sgéalta Eile [Iosagan and Other Stories] (1907), simultaneously undermines and endorses imperialist and patriarchal assumptions about gender differentiation. In later stories published in An Mháthair agus sgéalta eile [The Mother and Other Stories] (1916), Pearse moved from advocacy of boyish spirituality to a more physical and militant representation of boyhood. This changing representation of Irish boyhood illustrates how Pearse’s increasing militarism reflected his ongoing construction of national identity.

Open access

Becoming mothers

Narrating adoption and making kinship in Greece

Eirini Papadaki

This paper is about the intensive narrative work and the agony of adoptive mothers on how to talk to their children about their lives before the adoption, about a story that was partly unknown, about a past that the parents haven’t lived. These anxieties reveal that this struggle with language and the creation of stories was fundamental to their own becoming as mothers. I argue that a ‘kinning process’ is sustained through the repetition of children’s biographies and that, through the narration and re‐narration, of children’s placement and the existence of the birthmothers, adoptive mothers construct relations with their children and also their maternal self.

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“Give Me Back My Son!”

Eleanor of Aquitaine, Emotion Talk, and the Gendering of Political Rhetoric

Linda E. Mitchell

Abstract

Medieval women, according to theorists whose positions were informed by standard classical tropes, suffered from an “excess” of emotion, which barred them from positions of political authority. Eleanor of Aquitaine—queen, countess, and mother of kings—belies this categorization. As a political actor, especially in defense of her own territories and as regent of her sons’ kingdom of England, Eleanor deployed emotional expressions strategically in order to elicit patronage and support from other political leaders. Although many historians have discussed the career of Eleanor of Aquitaine, most emphasize her anomalous position, based on the presentation of her made by contemporary chroniclers such as Roger of Hoveden and Ralph de Diceto. Unlike her husband, Henry II, whose emotional outbursts usually resulted in disaster—vide the Becket debacle—Eleanor’s use of emotion reinforced her position of authority and was underscored by her claim of legitimate emotional distress as mother and as regent.