Mediating Mother-Activism

Ed. collection, 15. September 2021.

Call for Chapters - edited volume

Mediating Mother-Activism

Edited by Gilda Seddighi and Sara Tafakori

Recent years have seen a renewed interest in exploring motherhood and mothering as political  and emotional resources for digital activism. Although the intertwinement of mothering and  politics predates the digital context, feminist debates around the politicization of mothering, from  protests against state killings and disappearances, via the role of the mother in nation-building, to  advocacy for right wing populisms, need addressing all the more urgently as we endeavour to  understand the ways in which mothering is not only mediatised, but agentively deployed across  social media platforms. The political role and significance of the mother, the uneasy relation  between motherhood as gendered identity and mothering as daily practice, continue to be  contentious issues for feminists (Rich 1976, DiQuinzio 1999, Gumbs, Martens and Williams  2016, Naber 2021). Mother-activists have historically constructed public issues from their  personal experiences of suffering and loss within family structures (Reiger 2000), utilizing the  symbolic power of motherhood in order to motivate others to join their causes (Logsdon Conradsen 2011). Notwithstanding, campaigns such those of the Argentinian Mothers of the  Plaza de Mayo have been cast as ‘trapped by a bad script’ (Taylor 1997), that is as reproducing  the same narratives of familialism and heteropatriarchal bloodline that underpin the narrative of  the state. Conversely, many feminist scholars have argued that the political mobilisation of the  trope of the mother has the potential to challenge the ‘official’ frameworks of national, ethnic or  other group loyalty and to undermine or to radically reframe these very narratives (Kim 2020,  Athanasiou 2017, Carreon and Moghadam 2015, ). For example, the Mothers of the Plaza de  Mayo have raised the slogan ‘One child, all the children’ (Sosa 2014), taking the campaign  beyond limits of blood kinship.

A key debate to address is the relation between individual and collective in mothers’ digital  activism, and how this relation shapes the politics of mothering. On the one hand, digital  activism is often celebrated as connecting ‘private’ individual and personal experiences and  emotions with the public realm (Bennett and Segerberg 2013, Papacharissi 2010, Vivienne  2016), something which has perhaps favoured ‘popular feminism’ in the shape of MeToo and other mobilisations (Baer 2016, Banet-Weiser 2018). On the other hand, this perspective is often  criticised as downplaying the potential of digital activism both for building collective  identifications and projects (Gerbaudo 2012, Dean 2016, Nunes 2015) and for creating new  forms of exclusion and hierarchy (Seddighi 2014). In light of discussions around datafication  (Lomborg, Dencik, & Moe 2020) and disinformation (Bennett & Livingstone 2018), the question  of how mother-activists utilise digital media affordances to shape modalities of political  intervention, has become even more important. 

The proposed edited volume aims to bring together contributions from a broad range of  interdisciplinary perspectives with a focus around mothering and the uses of social media for  social and political change. We aim to include conceptual papers as well as empirical studies  from a broad range of contexts across the global South and global North. 

Papers may address one or more of the following topics but are not limited to these:

- The relation between digital affordances and mother-activism

- Creating digital political spaces beyond the binary of horizontalism vs hierarchy - Intersectional and decolonial approaches to mediating mother-activism - Mediating queer mothering

- How to build spaces and practices of solidarity 

- Centre-periphery narratives and mothers at the margins: how hierarchies and mechanisms  of social exclusion are reproduced and/or challenged/interrupted

- The mediation of/relations between local, national and transnational spaces of mothering - Temporalities of mothering: memory work; futurities

- Mediated affects and affective practices of mother-activism

- The visual mediation of mothering; tropes, repertoires, disruptions

- Mobilising motherhood and mothering under authoritarian governments - The deployment of motherhood tropes in right-wing movements; the mother figure and  racism or nativism 

- Mediating motherhood during economic or political crises

- Interrelations and tensions between online and offline activism

Abstract submission deadline: September 15, 2021. Please submit a title and an abstract of  around 500 words with a short bio (150 words) to both email accounts: Gilda Seddighi and Sara Tafakori Abstracts should reference 3-4 works  in the relevant literature. The accepted abstracts will serve as chapter summaries in the book  proposal. 

Notification of abstract acceptance: October 1, 2021

Full paper submission: March 6, 2022 (between 6500 and 7500 words)

Please note: Our initial book proposal received interest from the editor of the Palgrave MacMillan Gender Studies list. The full proposal with chapter summaries will go out by  November 8, 2021 with the intention of getting a book contract early in 2022.