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Deadline 22nd March 2021

The Maynooth University Motherhood Project, with the support of the MU Faculty of Arts, Celtic Studies and Philosophy and the MU Arts and Humanities Institute, will host a virtual conference on the topic of ‘Motherhood and Work’ on June 24th and 25th, 2021. 

The recent pandemic and subsequent government measures to curb the virus through lockdowns and restrictions on movement have impacted on women and mothers in a myriad of ways, including: issues of access to obstetric and maternity care; added responsibility of home-schooling; pressures of balancing care-giving while working from home; and financial pressures associated with reduced working hours or loss of employment. We find this an appropriate time, then, to bring scholars together to think of these and other issues more broadly related to the theme of motherhood and work.

We are currently seeking abstracts for a Motherhood and Work conference that will take place on 24th and 25th June 2021 and that engages with issues and debates concerning motherhood and work, particularly as they intersect with the themes of care and culture. Feminist scholars have long engaged with the double-bind in which motherhood as care work is devalued and working motherhood is presented in media, policy and in workplaces as unproblematic productive economic labour (Orgad, 2016: 479). Cultural narratives often perpetuate an image of idealised working and caring motherhood that, according to feminist scholarship, neglect or fail to represent the actual experiential realities of mothers as they work and care (O’Reilly, 2010; Gallagher, 2014; Barnett, 2016). In addition, women who do not fulfil normative assumptions of maternity – those who cannot become mothers, those who reject motherhood, or who deviate from normative expectations of motherhood - may be discursively produced as ‘not working’ as mothers in comparison to those mothers who ‘work’ to fulfil a culturally prescribed ideal (Gillespie, 1999; Ladd-Taylor, Umansky, 1998).

We are therefore interested in the variety of definitions and understandings of motherhood and work. We hope to find shared areas of interest across and between disciplines and we particularly encourage papers that more broadly intersect with the conference theme and/or consider the following questions:

  • What issues and concerns emerge from the pandemic and its impact on mothers and their work?

  • In what ways does the ideology of ‘motherhood’ work or not work?

  • What are the challenges or opportunities of blending care work and formal work?

  • How does the concept of ‘work’ perpetuate patriarchal notions of productivity and privilege only economic contributions?

  • How does motherhood at work intersect with racial, ethnic, class or sexual identities?

  • What are the various ways in which ability and disability intersect with motherhood and mothering?

  • What sectors of work either engage with and support or challenge and exclude mothers (care/health, politics, creative, educational sectors etc.)?

  • How do images of motherhood (mis)represent women working and mothering?

  • Where are the solutions for survival or resistance?

We welcome contributions in areas such as: Literature, Media, Culture, History, Politics, Science and Medicine, Law, Business, Social Work, Anthropology, Creative Practice, and Policy.

We invite you to submit individual proposals of 350 words along with the paper’s title and a 50-word biography. In addition, we encourage pre-constituted panels of 3-4 papers to submit proposals that contain a 150-word panel overview and 350-word abstracts for each paper. Please submit any proposals in one Pdf document to with the heading ‘Motherhood and Work conference’ by 22nd March 2021.

Call for Papers: About
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