Refiguring the Postmaternal: Feminist Responses to the Forgetting of Motherhood

Maria Fannin (Editor), Maud Perrier (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportEdited book


This book explores the concept of the ‘postmaternal’ as a response to changing cultural, political and economic conditions for motherhood and responds to Julie Stephens’ contention that gender-neutral feminism has led to a forgetting of the maternal within feminist memory. In Confronting Postmaternal Thinking: Feminism, Memory, Care (2011) Stephens identifies a significant cultural anxiety about care-giving, nurturing and human dependency she calls ‘postmaternal’ thinking. Stephens argues that maternal forms of care have been rejected in the public sphere and marginalised to the private domain through an elaborate process of cultural forgetting, in turn contributing to the current dominance of a degendered form of feminism.

This book argues that refiguring postmaternalism requires opening up the maternal beyond the category of mothers and the nuclear family. The chapters in this edited volume contribute to the field of maternal studies by investigating the connections between maternalism, feminism and neoliberalism through diverse feminist theories, cases and methodologies. We challenge Stephens’ diagnosis of the ‘forgetting’ of certain forms of maternal practices from feminism’s history by highlighting the ongoing contested place of the maternal in feminist scholarship and activism for the last five decades. We argue that the memorializing of the maternal in feminist scholarship needs to reflect its diverse legacies in the analyses of black feminism, socialist feminism and ecofeminism in order to destabilise the association of the maternal with neoliberalism and the depoliticization of feminism. This book was originally published as a special issue of Australian Feminist Studies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages146
ISBN (Print)9780815392057
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2018

Structured keywords

  • Gender Research Group


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