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Maternal Subjectivities

  • By: Lisa Baraitser
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The conjunction “maternal” and “subjectivity” produces multiple reverberations and meanings. Subjectivity itself is a contested term, one that overlaps with, and yet remains distinct from, notions of identity, individuality, personhood, and self. Though sometimes used to simply indicate a human being, the notion of a “subject” contains within it the double sense of the personal or individual who acts and speaks, and the simultaneous notion of being subject or subjected to other forces—for example, unconscious wishes, laws, discourses, the sovereign, or the state.

Subjectivity therefore captures the way experiences can be simultaneously felt as deeply personal, singular, and embodied, and at the same time, operate as a site for intense regulation by both internal (unconscious) and external (ideological) forces. In this sense, while subjectivity alludes to ...

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