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Troubling MotherhoodMaternality in Global Politics$
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Lucy B. Hall, Anna L. Weissman, and Laura J. Shepherd

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190939182

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190939182.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 15 May 2021

Troubling Conceptions of Motherhood

Troubling Conceptions of Motherhood

State Feminism and Political Agency of Women in the Global South

(p.156) Chapter 10 Troubling Conceptions of Motherhood
Troubling Motherhood

Anwar Mhajne

Crystal Whetstone

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the ways in which political institutions in three countries—Egypt, Sri Lanka, and Argentina—interact with religious and cultural conceptions of motherhood to provide women with social authority, often through respectability politics. State and societal dynamics in each case forced women to bargain with patriarchy in order to secure political gains using—and therefore reproducing—respectability politics. In each of these three cases from different geographical regions of the world, the authors’ analysis has revealed how women’s “bargaining with patriarchy” by employing patriarchal discourses on respectable femininity and maternal identities enabled some women to engage, challenge, and resist the state. By using respectability politics centered around maternalism and the institution of motherhood, women have helped to advance democratization by challenging human rights abuses and/or furthered women’s participation in politics. With these three cases, the chapter demonstrates how, in certain political and cultural contexts where religion and women’s roles as the foundation of the family significantly structure the lives of women, motherhood has been utilized as a powerful tool for political mobilization and contestation.

Keywords:   motherhood, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Argentina, respectability politics

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