MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

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Reflections on Introduction to Mother Studies Course – by Zairunisha Jnu

Zairunisha photoAbout a month ago, I posted my reflections on the summer intensive course taught through the Museum of Motherhood. I invited my comrade, Zairunisha Jnu, to do the same and offer her impressions from Introduction to Mother Studies.  Zairunisha is a PhD. candidate in the Centre for Philosophy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.  She is presently working on her research project entitled ” Rhetorics of Choice and Coercion on Motherhood: Revisiting Bioethical Debates from Feminists Perspectives.”

Here is what she said:

I am a student of philosophy and my research area focuses on issues in the field of bioethics with special reference to the impact of new reproductive technologies on motherhood.  During my studies on my research project, I hadn’t studied motherhood in such a broader perspective before doing the Mother Studies course offered by the Museum of Motherhood. The Introduction to Mother Studies course provided a panoptic platform for mothers, students, scholars, professional, etc. where the participants are encouraged and motivated to critically examine, analyse, and correlate problems faced by mothers in their day to day lives from various perspectives, especially from a sociological lens within historical, economic, political and sociological frameworks. Also sometimes we were asked to try to find out solutions to the problems and challenges.  

For me this course was very enlightening in the field of motherhood. I have a knowledge of mother-related problems, issues not only from an American perspective, but an Indian perspective too. Different tools and methods of teaching for instance video lectures, mind blowing movies, news reports, reading materials, writing assignments (hardest part of the course 🙂 etc. made a great combination of practical and theoretical knowledge which encouraged and forced me to rethink about the situation of mothers in the society and question on the pre-established image of women and the role they perform in the family.

As I mentioned above that I am a philosophy student, just familiar with the name of some feminist thinkers such as Adrienne Rich, Sara Ruddick, Patricia Hill Collins, Barbara Katz Rothman and a few others. I have come to learn more about their work and contributions through the Mother Studies course importantly on mother, mothering and motherhood.

In the book Of Women Born, the issues of sexuality, childbirth, child care, and women’s health, Adrienne Rich questions and critiques male-centric cultures and practices. The articleUndivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice” by Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried and others, focuses on women’s awareness in the field of reproductive rights and gender inequality. Additionally, Barbara Katz Rothman’s book, Recreating Motherhood shows the perpetuating condition and coercion over ignorant women still continuing in modern technological time and world. It is so hard for competent women to save themselves from the milieu of the society and perform their choices as a free being where mothering is always considered a personal activity and unconsciously become political matter. The crude reality is, only society will decide about you, being a woman  how threatening it is! Nevertheless in this scenario, Mother Studies offers a positive approach and hope for action.  

In this manner, I agree with Jenny’s view that the emerging Mother Studies course is a revolutionary step in the way of making the personal political and academic. It was such a wonderful and unique experience for me working together throughout the coursework with our teacher and classmate/friend. I am keenly looking forward to the possibility of a workshop regarding Mother Studies where we can meet again and explore more prospects and opportunities for our Mother Studies work.   

Written by: Zairunisha Jnu
Arranged by: Jenny Nigro, MoM Online Intern

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Join Us For Our 2015 Conference, “New Maternalisms”

Joy Rose, Laura Tropp, Barbara Katz Rothman

Joy Rose, Laura Tropp, Barbara Katz Rothman

As we move into April and welcome spring, we also get closer to our annual conference. As you may have seen on other locations on the website, this year, our 2015 conference is titled “New Maternalisms: Tales of Motherwork (Dislodging the Unthinkable)”. The conference will be held over three days, April 30, May 1-2, Thursday-Saturday. Thursday’s program will be held at the CUNY Graduate Center, located at 5th Ave and 34th St. in Manhattan. Friday and Saturday’s program will then be held at Manhattan College, located on Manhattan College Parkway in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

This year’s theme, the concept of “New Maternalisms” is intended to expose the “fissures and cracks between the ideological representation of motherhood and the lived experience of being a mother” (Klein 2012). Through a series of lectures, panels, keynotes, art, and bridging opportunities, the program seeks to bring increased visibility to motherhood and the labor of “motherwork.” We’re so excited to share this year’s program content and how it brings this to life. The conference will feature a wide range of topics on motherhood, including: “Expanding Theory on Motherhood and Caregiving”, “Visual and Popular Depictions of Mothers”, “Extending/Erasing Motherhood”, a panel on “Intimate Labor: Doulas and Motherwork”, “Motherhood, Identity, and Attachment”, “The Personal Journey and Maternal Storytelling”, a panel on “Interconnected Maternalisms: Examples of Everyday Languages”, “Institutional and Systemic Barriers of Motherhood: Femivores, Foster Care, and Things”, “Motherwork, Culture, and Patriarchal Societies”, “Work-Life Balance, Motherhood and Meaning”, a panel on “Making the Invisible Visible: Valuing Motherwork in Society’s Economy and Institutions”, “Motherwork Bodies, Birthing, and Breastfeeding”, “Mothering, Disability, and Motherless Daughters”, a film screening of MIMI and DONA, “Self-Help Theory and Motherhood”, and a panel titled “To the Moon and Back: Why Mothers March, Motherless Children”.

This year’s keynote address will be delivered by Barbara Katz Rothman in room 9205 of the CUNY, GC at 4:45p. a motherwork warrior who is near and dear to our heart here at the Museum of Motherhood. Dr. Katz Rothman is a Professor of Sociology, Public Health, Disability Studies, Women’s Studies, and the Food Studies concentration at the CUNY Graduate Center (and advisor to our own Martha Joy Rose, no less!). She has done extensive work in the areas of midwifery and reproductive technologies. Her scholarship covers new genetics, medical sociology, bioethics, issues in disability, adoption, race, and food studies. The author of works such as In Labor, The Tentative Pregnancy, Recreating Motherhood, The Book of Life, Weaving a Family: Untangling Race and Adoption, Laboring On, and the upcoming book, Bun in the Oven: Crafting an Artisanal Midwifery Movement, she has also published numerous articles and curated several academic journals in her fields. In recognition of her contributions to the movement, Dr. Katz Rothman was named to our very own Motherhood Hall of Fame in 2014. Her keynote address will be “Women as Fathers,” how our new technologies and practices are recreating motherhood in the image of an old-fashioned patriarchal fatherhood.

Written by: Jenny Nigro, M.o.M. Online Intern