Motherhoods & Feminisms
Do mothers need feminism? And does feminism need mothers?
LOVA is organizing another Winter School on 15 -18 December 2022! Because of the great interest in last years’ topic, the Winter School will again be centred around questions regarding motherhood and feminisms. We invite anyone who is interested in exploring this topic in-depth, together with a group of engaged people, to sign up for this four-day event.
Motherhood and feminism have a complicated relationship, especially in western feminist circles. During the second feminist wave in the 1960s and 1970s, motherhood became synonymous with lost opportunities for women. While some feminist scholarship, therefore, became evasive regarding the topic of motherhood, thinkers like Audre Lorde, Patricia Hill Collins and bell hooks (among others) kept recognising the importance of mothering for the community as well as the revolutionary potential of mothering in a hostile environment. Yet, these ideas became marginalized by the uprise of e.g. choice feminism and entrepreneurial feminism, which agree with neoliberal values like individualism, independence and control. Research shows the far-reaching influence these values have today on young mothers’ subjectivities (e.g. Christina Scharff, 2014; Mavis Machirori, 2021) and the struggles they face when trying to make sense of the experience of mothering within a system that is hostile toward care and interdependence. While young mothers search for the meanings of contemporary motherhood, a renewed interest in black, indigenous and other feminist thinking on the subject surfaces.
Although the Covid-19 crisis made unpaid and paid care work more visible, it did not yet lead to mother-friendly policy changes. On the contrary: the energy crisis, the climate emergency and a backlash of gender conservatism continue to pose challenges for young families, and especially for young mothers – by which we mean all who mother, regardless of gender. Adrienne Rich’ 1976 distinction between motherhood as an institution (which might be oppressive) and the mothering practice (which can be liberating) remains timely. In this Winter School, we want to further explore the relationship between normative motherhood, the mothering practice and feminisms in these challenging times. We put the daily practice of mothering on center stage and explore what it might mean to be a mother within a system in crisis.
We hold on to last year’s focus on intersectionality and the discussion on how to talk about the specific gendered experiences of ‘mothers’, without excluding fathers and othermothers. We also prefer to talk about motherhoods (plural) as representing multiple realities and experiences, instead of a singular model, rooted in normative ideals and perfectionism. In the Winter School, we wish to deepen last year’s debates on queer motherhood, non-human motherhood and the
politicization and representation of motherhood and extend the focus to also include black and indigenous perspectives, reproductive justice, and non-mothers (whether by choice or not). Endorsed by leading scholar in the field, Andrea O’Reilly, who will be giving a keynote lecture, we wish to give room to ‘matricentric feminism’ in academia and beyond.
Through academic lectures, interactive workshops and self-research, the LOVA Winter School 2022 creates a platform for participants to critically and playfully question and examine the themes. Feedback from our past Winter and Summer Schools underlines the pleasure of intensively working and developing new ideas with a small, dedicated group within an anti-hierarchical environment. The event is designed for everyone who is interested: both lifelong learners as well as students and more established scholars. The Winter School is shorter than you are used to in our Summer Schools. By making it a four-day event (including the weekend) we hope to ease the possibility of attendance for participants.
Tuition fee: €275/350
This fee includes: lectures, workshops, vegetarian lunches and coffee/tea/refreshments. If your fee is paid by your organisation or university, please pay the full amount (€350). This allows us to offer discounts to people who have to rely on their own means to pay the fee (€275).
Please send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org including a short motivation letter. The (extended) deadline for application is 15 November. Please note that spots are limited. All lectures and workshops will be in English.
15-18 December. The schedule runs from 9:30 – 17:00 hours. We will offer suggestions for evening activities (socializing, movies, etc.), but these are not part of the official program.
The Winter School will for the most part take place at IIRE (International Institute for Research and Education) located at Lombokstraat 40, Amsterdam. More information on the additional location(s) will be provided later.
LOVA Winter School committee:
Academic Directors: dr. Irene Arends, dr. Emmy de Wit and Joke Struyf. LOVA board members: dr. Jasmijn Rana & dr. Tine Davids
List of confirmed speakers
Prof. Andrea O’Reilly, York University
Prof. O’Reilly is a highly respected and well-known scholar in the field of motherhood studies. She is the founder and director of the Motherhood Initiative, founder/editor-in-chief of the Journal of Motherhood Initiative, and author of many important books. Her latest book ‘Matricentric Feminism, Theory, Activism and Practice’ (2021) will be guiding her opening speech (via zoom) for the Winter School.
Dr. Tine Davis, Radboud University
Tine Davids is assistant professor in anthropology and development studies at the Radboud University, where she teaches and conducts research on gender, politics, globalization, gender mainstreaming, feminist ethnography, and (return) migration. Her expertise is on the politicization of motherhood and her publications include: “Political representation and the ambiguity of Mexican motherhood” (2005) The edited volume: A Todo Madre! Una Mirada Multidisciplinaria de las Maternidades en México (co-edited with Abril Saldaña and Lilia Venegas, 2016). Gendered narrations of national Belonging and motherhood in Sudan and Mexico” (Together with Karin Willemse, 2018). Tine has a long term involvement with LOVA and is currently also part of the LOVA board.
Prof. Leonie Cornips, Maastricht University
Leonie Cornips is a professor in Language culture at Maastricht University and a senior researcher at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is also one of the co-founders of the Center for Animal-Human Studies and has developed a specific interest and commitment to applying a sociolinguistic approach to studying nonhuman animal agency. During the Winter School, she will be speaking on the topic of nonhuman motherhood and dairy cow relations.
Dr. Catrien Notermans, Radboud University
Catrien Notermans is an associate professor in the anthropology and development studies department. She is an anthropologist and a long term LOVA member. She has broad expertise in topics of religious mobility: pilgrimage, migration, family dynamics and transnational kin networks, and did post-doctoral research on child fosterage and motherhood in Cameroon. Based on her most recent research on gender, nature and material religion in urban and rural India, she will speak on the topic of nonhuman motherhood and human-nonhuman entanglements during our Winter School.
Dr. Amal Miri, Antwerp University
Amal Miri works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies (CeMIS – Antwerp University) where she coordinates a participatory research on gender empowerment and civil society organizations. During the Winter School, she will talk about her PhD research at the intersection of marriage migration, motherhood and integration among Moroccan women in Flanders, for which she conducted participatory research with expertise in affective citizenship and religious agency.
Dr. Kathy Walker, University of Saskatchewan
Kathy Walker is assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research focuses on the political implications of the intersection of spirituality, gender and land from Cree and Indigenous knowledge systems. During the Winter School, she will be talking (online) about her research on relationality in the Cree community and the importance of mothers and mothering within it.
Dr. Michiel De Proost, Ghent University
Michiel De Proost is a postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University working on medical ethics and disruptive innovations in healthcare. During the Winter School, he will present his PhD research project on ‘social’ egg freezing, in which he focussed on feminist perspectives on autonomy and intersectionality.
Noëmi Willemen, UCLouvain
Noëmi Willemen is a historian and a PhD candidate working on 20th century motherhood and mothering. She is a lecturer, illustrator and activist and writes about mothering on her blog @lacoeuràmaréebasse. During the Winter School, she will be talking about historical tendencies that influence the different ways contemporary western motherhood is being understood.
Rodante van der Waal, University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht
Rodante van der Waal is an independent midwife in Amsterdam and a PhD candidate in Care Ethics at the University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht. She is the producer of the ongoing podcast series Contractions on the politics of midwifery and is part of the Critical Midwifery Studies collective. In her PhD study, she investigates obstetric violence from the perspectives of feminism, postcolonial theory, and care-ethics. During the Winter School, she will talk about whether it is possible to hack the modern racialized human in favour of difference without separateness by re-imagining fertility, pregnancy, childbirth and natality.
Cynthia Dorrestijn is involved in the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis. Before becoming a mother, she had experienced psychosis a few times, which led to her seeking help before her pregnancy. She carefully put her perinatal experiences into words, both her own bodily experiences and the way she was approached by the medical world, and combines these personal experiences with phenomenological research. During the Winter School, she will be sharing her postpartum experiences as a mother prone to psychosis with us.
Jillian Emanuels is a trained Pedagogue working in the Netherlands. She is also a trainer and antiracist pedagogic expert. She will be discussing various cases of normative motherhood in Dutch society, with specific reference to migrant mothers in the Bijlmer and black motherhood.