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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

Privatized Bodies in Public Locations

Privatized Bodies in Public Locations

C-Sections, Toddler Meltdowns, and the Neoliberal Gaze

(p.195) Chapter 12 Privatized Bodies in Public Locations
Troubling Motherhood

Penny Griffin

Oxford University Press

Understanding motherhood as practices of mothering not necessarily limited to women’s bodies, this chapter sets out to examine some of the many and various ways in which neoliberalized public spaces enable, encourage, and reproduce motherhood. It asks, specifically, how, where, and why human, mothering bodies are subjected to the neoliberal “gaze,” how this gaze on motherhood privileges certain forms of identity and practice over others, and how this influences, overtly and indirectly, the moral status of “mothers” in neoliberal societies. Neoliberal governmentality has been vastly effective in enacting its own self-reproduction across divergent societies, masking the totalitarianism of its core focus on centralizing the “free” market in social life through clever reconstructions of conflicting social value systems and practices. This can be seen, this chapter argues, in the normalization of highly invasive medical procedures on mothering bodies, in the proliferation of professionalized parenting “experts,” and in the individualization and social segregation of “mothers” themselves. In particular, the author examines how everyday moments in and practices of motherhood have become highly effective normative technologies of neoliberal governmentality. The author takes as a starting point those “small” things about life as a mother (or as someone who mothers) in a neoliberal society in terms of how they represent two interwoven social elements: the impacts of the prejudiced gaze of neoliberal authorities, including hospitals, supermarkets, cafés, trains, and day care centers; and the apparent achievement of limitless neoliberal tolerance and acceptability.

Keywords:   bodies, governmentality, mothering, neoliberalization, privilege

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