Mother Studies


“New Maternalisms”: Tales of Motherwork (Dislodging the Unthinkable) 
April 30th, May 1st-2nd, NYC

Call for Papers for the Annual 2015 MOM Conference: As another Mother’s Day approaches, this conference, designed to bring together academics, artists, and laypersons will be an opportunity to critically explore the institution of motherhood. Much research on motherhood has been published in the past eighteen years from Ruddick to Crittenden suggesting an increased interest in and visibility and acknowledgement of feminism and the topic of motherhood. The literature is concerned with the invisibility of mothers and the labor of caregiving or “motherwork.” Drawing on artist Natalie S. Loveless’ curation in Spring 2012 for FADO in Toronto, The Museum of Motherhood (MOM) calls this shift in the representation of motherhood in the literature as “new maternalisms”. Klein (2012) argues “new maternalisms” expose “the fissures and cracks between the ideological representation of motherhood and the lived experiences of being a mother.” It is in service to this in-between space of research and theory and the lived and everyday that MOM introduces the following Call For Papers.

The purpose of this conference lies in focusing on “new maternalisms” by exploring “motherwork” or the invisible labor of caregiving in our everyday lived experiences as wo/men, hence including mothers, fathers, and caretakers and our communities. The objective is to explore how wo/men experience “motherwork,” what “motherwork” means to us, and how “motherwork” impacts and is impacted by the communities in which we live in. The conference organizers encourage submissions that cross disciplines to provide critical insights into mothering, fathering, and family issues; that draw direct links between theories and/or research findings; or that offer practical approaches to issues facing contemporary mothers and families. The overarching goal of this conference is to provide an environment to explore new ideas and approaches for tackling issues that concern mothers as well as important others who fill a care giving role in the family.

Here, examples of possible topics include but are not limited to: 1. What caregiving practices are pursued in “motherwork”? And how have these practices been shaped by factors such as nation, religion, gender, and other axes of difference? 2. How do caregivers frame/understand their “motherwork”? 3. What alliances do caregivers build locally, regionally, and internationally, and why? What factors have caused rifts or fissures between and among caregivers? 4. To what extent does caregiving intersect with other forms of activism/resistance? 5. How have wo/men’s identities as caregivers been disrupted or shaped by binaries, such as east/west, north/south? 6. Whose agency is privileged or obscured within “motherwork”? 7. How do global discourses shape local “motherwork,” and, how, in turn, do local issues and frames shape global discourses around “motherwork”? This Call For Papers signals the important sociological and anthropological shifts taking place in the field of motherhood as it relates to wo/men – mothers, father, and caretakers – who are marginalized through “motherwork.”

We welcome submissions from scholars, students, activists, artists, community agencies, service providers, journalists, mothers and others who work or research in this area. Cross-cultural, historical, and comparative work is encouraged. We also encourage a variety of types of submissions including individual academic papers from all disciplines, proposals for panels, creative submissions, performances, storytelling, visual arts, film, music, audio, and other alternative formats.

Submissions must include a title and a maximum 50-100 word abstract for individual papers, panels, and other submission types (e.g. performance, media, music). Panel submissions must include short abstracts (50-100 word) for each individual paper that will be included in the panel. Please submit ONE presentation proposal only. Submissions are due by December 15, 2015. Details on submitting are at this link: All submissions will be peer reviewed. The conference will be held in NYC: TBA

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