Non-reproduction: Politics, Ethics, Aesthetics

MaMSIE is supporting a two-day interdisciplinary Humanities Symposium on Non-reproduction: politics, ethics, aesthetics, organised by Fran Bigman (Cambridge), Harriet Cooper (Birkbeck) and Sophie Jones (Birkbeck). Confirmed speakers include Lisa Baraitser (Birkbeck, University of London) and Nina Power (Roehampton University). The Symposium explores critical perspectives on the idea of ‘non-reproduction’.

The Symposium is being held at Birkbeck on the 31st January and 1st February. Follow the link for details:

New Special Issue of Studies in the Maternal, January 2013

Austerity Parenting: new economies of parent-citizenship
Guest editors: Tracey Jensen (University of Newcastle) and Imogen Tyler (Lancaster University)

Parents have long been a significant economic category for policymakers, governments, employers, social workers and public health officials, requiring answers to difficult questions around value, labour, care and responsibility. In the current global economic crisis and recession, many governments are implementing radically restructured welfare support systems, reducing public spending on a range of services and condensing public sector workforces. Several budget analyses have already demonstrated that women (and more specifically, mothers) are set to lose out disproportionately as these changes are implemented. At the same time, many government administrations (particularly the current Coalition government in the UK) have expressed their belief that ‘good parenting’ can compensate for economic disadvantage: in the UK this forms part of a large scale movement to replace significant parts of the Welfare State with forms of volunteerism and private enterprise. Some ministers have even suggested that austerity economics might represent a chance for parents to reconnect with their parenting, with profound future social benefit. In this context, the promotion of ‘good parenting’ is being newly envisioned as an economic opportunity, through which the current public `squandering` of resources on families can be transformed into an invitation that asks ‘parent-citizens’ to effect social and economic renewal for themselves. We are interested in interrogating the double-bind of the new economies of parenting, whereby being a parent makes one more vulnerable to the forms of economic austerity, whilst at the same time parents are being held more accountable than ever for the social (im)mobility of themselves and their children.

Is there a new landscape of parent-citizen responsibility – and how does this relate to the disbanding and dissolution of various public services? What will be the social and economic impact of these shifts to volunteerism and private enterprise on family life? What ‘counts’ and is valued in the new economy of parent-citizenship? Should parenting be publicly recognized as ‘work’? What are the state’s economic obligations to parents? How might policy respond to the gender pay gap, which is principally experienced by mothers? Why are we witnessing an intensification of parent governance, and parent-blame, in neoliberal times?

This special issue of Studies in the Maternal explores new directions (and old tensions) in the complex relationships between parenting, citizenship, social policy and cultural and economic value.

Forthcoming Special Issue of Studies in the Maternal, May 2013

Maternal Aesthetics: The Surprise of the Real

Guest Curator: Andrea Liss, California State University, San Marcos

Maternal Aesthetics: the Surprise of the Real is a special issue of Studies in the Maternal, aiming to bring together a vibrant intermingling of work by visual artists, scholars of visual culture and feminist theory, poets, writers, activists and more, who are engaged in thinking about new conceptualizations of the maternal.

As guest curator of this special themed issue, I would like to bring forth the unexpected juxtapositions of images and texts that set maternal identities, subjectivities and inter-subjectivities in motion, where the previously displaced and devalued maternal is voiced from a mother’s perspective and configured anew. Maternal Aesthetics: the Surprise of the Real will therefore aim to elicit moments ranging from subtle awareness to the surprise of the real when feminist artists and writers became cognizent of themselves as mothers, when sense of self and sense of self with child(ren) brings about new subjectivities and inter-subjectivities.

The issue will include contributions that articulate such transformations: what sorts of ruptures, continuities, resistances, discomforts or other responses are experienced in domestic spaces, public workplaces and other cultural spheres by mothers and articulated as mothers (biological or otherwise). Maternal Aesthetics: the Surprise of the Real will create a forum to represent how feminist artists and writers understand, embrace, resist, live and perform the act of mothering in and throughout their lives. Reflections and analyses addressing such experiences of transformation between the mother and her adult child(ren), as well as intergenerational perspectives are also welcome.