Troubling Motherhood. Maternality in Global Politics

  • Lucy B. Hall, Anna L. Weissman, Laura J. Shepherd eds.
2020 | Oxford University Press (external site)
Edition: 1
Pages: 321
ISBN: 9780190939182

In global politics, women's bodies are policed, objectified, surveilled, and feared, with particular attention paid to both their met or unmet procreative potential. While the significance of motherhood varies across cultures, it is, as this book argues, connected not just to gender and sexuality, but also to religion and nationality. Reproduction is central to the flourishing of any nation or culture, and therefore motherhood is a major signifier of women's relationship to the state. This is so much the case that states enact laws about which women can bear children and have supported sterilization efforts in cases where women are not deemed appropriate bearers of the nation. States also legislate reproductive technologies, adoption, and government support for parenting.

By considering representations and narratives of maternity, this volume shows how practices of global politics shape and are shaped by the gendered norms and institutions that underpin motherhood. Motherhood matters in global politics. Yet, the diverse ways in which performances and practices of motherhood are constituted by and are constitutive of other dimensions of political life are frequently obscured, or assumed to be of little interest to scholars, policymakers, and practitioners.

Featuring innovative and diverse chapters on the politics of motherhood as an institution, this collection shows that maternality is troubled, complicated, and heterogeneous in global politics. Thus, performances and practices of motherhood warrant closer and more sustained scrutiny. This book builds on work by feminist international relations scholars, extending into disruptive spaces of queer theory, literary critique, and post-colonial studies. The chapters in this book consider the meaning of motherhood, particularly during times of war versus peace; the connections between motherhood and nationhood (and reproduction of the state); and care work and maternal labor, particularly as performed by transnational workers. Ultimately, this book demonstrates the complex interconnections between the individual, the state, and the global through the lens of maternality.
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