This book explores the concept of the ‘postmaternal’ as a response to changing cultural, political and economic conditions for motherhood and responds to Julie Stephens’ contention that gender-neutral feminism has led to a forgetting of the maternal within feminist memory. In Confronting Postmaternal Thinking: Feminism, Memory, Care (2011) Stephens identifies a significant cultural anxiety about care-giving, nurturing and human dependency she calls ‘postmaternal’ thinking. Stephens argues that maternal forms of care have been rejected in the public sphere and marginalised to the private domain through an elaborate process of cultural forgetting, in turn contributing to the current dominance of a degendered form of feminism.
This book argues that refiguring postmaternalism requires opening up the maternal beyond the category of mothers and the nuclear family. The chapters in this edited volume contribute to the field of maternal studies by investigating the connections between maternalism, feminism and neoliberalism through diverse feminist theories, cases and methodologies. We challenge Stephens’ diagnosis of the ‘forgetting’ of certain forms of maternal practices from feminism’s history by highlighting the ongoing contested place of the maternal in feminist scholarship and activism for the last five decades. We argue that the memorializing of the maternal in feminist scholarship needs to reflect its diverse legacies in the analyses of black feminism, socialist feminism and ecofeminism in order to destabilise the association of the maternal with neoliberalism and the depoliticization of feminism. This book was originally published as a special issue of Australian Feminist Studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Refiguring the Postmaternal 1. Postmaternal, Postwork and the Maternal Death Drive 2. The ‘Good’ Attached Mother: An Analysis of Postmaternal and Postracial Thinking in Birth and Breastfeeding Policy in Neoliberal Britain 3. A Vision for Postmaternalism: Institutionalising Fathers’ Engagement with Care 4. Belly Casts and Placenta Pills: Refiguring Postmaternal Entrepreneurialism 5. Embodied Care and Planet Earth: Ecofeminism, Maternalism and Postmaternalism 6. Postmaternal Times and Radical Feminist Thinking 7. Shape-shifting Around the Maternal: A Response
Maria Fannin is Reader in Human Geography in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol, UK. Her research focuses on the social and economic dimensions of health, medicine and technology, particularly in relation to reproduction and women’s health. She has conducted research on commercial cord blood banking, conceptualisations of hoarding and exchange in the biological tissue economy, and feminist geographical approaches to a ‘bodily commons’ in a post- genomic age. She is currently researching the multiple forms of value attached to human placental tissue in the biosciences, medicine and alternative health practices. Her work has appeared in Body & Society, Feminist Theory and New Genetics & Society.
Maud Perrier is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bristol, UK. Her research interests include feminist pedagogies, emotions, arts based methodologies, class and contemporary mothering. She is currently investigating women food social entrepreneurs in Sydney, Australia with Elaine Swan. She has published in Sociology, Sociological Review, Sociological Research Online, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, Humanities, Gender and Education and Feminist Formations.