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Activist Mothers of the Disappeared

  • By: Larissa M. Mercado-López
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Activist Mothers of the Disappeared are groups of mothers who form collectives to seek reunification with their “disappeared” children. Also referred to as forced disappearances, abductions of young children and adults by both the state and the government opposition are common in countries embroiled in civil and political unrest. Though these disappearances are treated as kidnappings, it is generally assumed that the victim has been murdered, most likely after enduring a period of torture. Disappearances are currently more often associated with state terrorism, though they are also understood to be a tactic of other forms of systemic oppression. Activist mothers protest these disappearances by performing and projecting images of maternity in public spaces and challenging fixed constructions of maternal identity and motherhood.

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