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(M)Othering the Nation

Constructing and Resisting National Allegories through the Maternal Body

Editor(s): Lisa Bernstein
Subject: Social Sciences

Book Description

(M)Othering the Nation: Constructing and Resisting National Allegories through the Maternal Body explores how cultural narratives represent the mother as nation in ways that both reinforce and challenge traditional, normative roles and create new forms of social identity for women. The anthology examines ways in which the representation of motherhood as national allegory has constricted women’s social, economic, and political roles in different geographic and historical contexts. It also shows how this cultural use of the mother-figure can provide alternative models of women's lives as mothers and non-mothers. Encompassing literature from Canada, England, Germany, India, Ireland, Mexico, Romania, Sierra Leone, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Spain, and the United States, the essays attempt to give women a voice about their own diverse lives and experiences.

Section One, Authentic Mothers, examines how notions of pure, moral motherhood have been enlisted to promote nationalist projects and to create and maintain the illusion of a cohesive nation-state. Section Two, Transforming Mothers, focuses on texts that both challenge national stereotypes and contest the roles of women in society. The essays in this chapter address problems raised in the first part of the book by questioning notions of chaste, authentic mothers and by attempting to create new, inclusive and multi-cultural versions of the national imaginary. The third section, Transgressing Mothers, presents concepts of “anti-mothering,” embodied by "deviant" or "unnatural" mothers, to question the representation of mother as national allegory on the eve of and into the twenty-first century. In showing the relationship of particular women’s situations to ongoing discourses of mother-as-nation, this collection is significant to contemporary women's lives, and thus to society as a whole.


ISBN-13: 978-1-8471-8537-2
ISBN-10: 1-84718-537-1
Date of Publication: 01/05/2008
Pages / Size: 240 / A5
Price: £34.99


Lisa Bernstein is associate professor in the Communication, Arts, and Humanities Program at University of Maryland University College and academic exchange specialist for the U.S. Department of State. She has published articles on twentieth-century Caribbean and German literature and culture, the role of African and European intellectuals in society, and European and Latin American women’s artistic and literary self-representations.