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Other Mothering

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

Other mothering is the practice of women rearing and caring for children, families, and/or kin who are not biologically related to them; it also encompasses women striving to uplift their communities through social activism, institutional reform and other means of communal care. African American feminist scholars originally named the concept of other mothering to help explain the various mothering strategies that U.S. slave women used to nurture and protect African American families who were intentionally separated, displaced, and exploited by white slaveholders.

Within African American slave communities, other mothering served as a form of social and political resistance that helped support individuals, preserve culture, and strengthen communal ties. Though other mothering was traditionally framed as an African American cultural routine, recent scholarship emphasizes how grandmothers, stepmothers, ...

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