Definitions

Museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment. *source

M/other (noun): is a self-identified individual who is relationally connected through pregnancy, birth, surrogacy, genetics, care-work, and/or adoption. Historically female; they are one who divides (time, labor, emotion, and/or genetic material) and are paradoxically increased by the experience. Best explained by the equation: me + other (m/other) a mother is one who is connected, or disconnected, to another, genetically through procreative activity or linked through identity, care-work, and/or association. This special relational status incorporates the phenomenon that motherhood is otherhood, which is its most fundamental principle.

Reproductive Identity is understood as the individual experience of biological, social, and psychological development relative to sexual development, procreation and personal expression. *resource

The Journal of Mother Studies (JourMS) a peer-reviewed, international, interdisciplinary open-access digital humanities hybrid project that disseminates articles, research, and creativity on the subject of Mother Studies which is a field of interdisciplinary study devoted to the issues, experiences, topics, history, and culture of m/others, mothering, and motherhood. 

Mother Studies is a field of interdisciplinary study devoted to the issues, experiences, topics, history, and culture of m/others, mothering, and motherhood. The field pivots within the humanities and includes the lived experiences of those identifying as mothers. Mother Studies examines postmodern critical theory and praxis, identifying a nexus of m/otherness as a determining force of intellectual and personal expression. While many academic interpretations including psychology and sociology acknowledge the relational status of human beings, Mother Studies focuses on the lived experiences within a variety of circumstance with attention to the procreative connection/disconnection status of pregnancy, birth, adoption, surrogacy, fostering, male-mothering, other-mothering, care-work, reproductive identity, and self-identification.

Paramount to this study is the examination of me=other, or me vs. other, or M/other; from one who another has evolved, or is nurtured. The folkloric, cultural and paradoxical nature of being made and unmade is key to the theory of who and what a mother is. We must ask, how does the concept of m/otherness; one who is part of your, or you; who are part of another, or intrinsically connected to another – motivate action in a world conceived by relational exchange – as opposed to a world of alienation informed by violent, institutionalized, hierarchical constructions? Here we attempt to untangle these theories, ideas, and actions.

Every human being is the result of procreative experience. This creates a relational status that results in being connected psychologically, materially, or organically with another (even if one is disconnected from the day-to-day activities). This connected status is key to the concept of m/otherness or mother-ness.

The Encyclopedia of Motherhood states: “Motherhood Studies has developed into three interconnected categories of inquiry: motherhood as institution, motherhood as experience, and motherhood as identity or subjectivity” (vol. 2, 831). Here we will explore mother, the noun, the person, the identity and experience, mothering the activity which at least historically has included the procreational labor and care-work, and motherhood the institution, which left in the hands of patriarchal constructions can be organized as a site of control. Differentiating between Mother Studies and Motherhood Studies, both of which examine the institution of motherhood, and the praxis of mothering, Mother Studies keeps the research focused on elucidating the perspectives generated by self-identified m/others as a core tenet.

Submitted, Martha Joy Rose – Working Document 2015-2022

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