Embodied care and Planet Earth: ecofeminism, maternalism and post-maternalism

Mary Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
683 Downloads (Pure)


The article engages with Julie Stephens (2011) book, Confronting Postmaternal Thinking, which argues for a ‘regendered’ feminism to counter the current postmaternal and neoliberalist focus on paid work to the detriment of relationships of care. Stephens points to ecofeminism as illustrative of a potentially new form of maternalism which could achieve this. While broadly agreeing with Stephens’s diagnosis of neoliberalism as amplifying the impoverishment of relations within natural and societal worlds, I contest her construal of ecofeminism and care ethics to maternalism. Instead, I propose a concept of embodied care that speaks to the ecofeminist imperative to support a radical restructuring of social and political institutions such that they focus on more-than-human flourishing. This is not to argue for a form of regendered maternalism, but neither does it seek to cast maternalism as something to be transcended. Rather, an approach to care that foregrounds connectivity and entangled materialisations provides an ethical resource to confront the dead hand of neoliberalism and a starting place from which to re-figure the postmaternal through a radical and liberatory focus on embodied relatedness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-485
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Feminist Studies
Issue number90
Early online date20 Mar 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

E-pub ahead of print: 20/03/2017
Special issue: Refiguring the Postmaternal


  • care ethics
  • maternalism
  • relatedness
  • embodiment
  • ecofeminism


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