Building upon scholarship on topics at the intersection of religion and gender, the contributions in this panel will explore religious and maternal identities and practices, as well as experiences of motherhood (as institution) and mothering (as experience) that reinforce or trouble religion.
Building upon traditional and more recent ethnographies of fertility management, pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, as well as on studies of contemporary parenting cultures, this panel examines maternal identities and mother work, focusing on positions and practices that reclaim, resist, or reform religion and spirituality. The discourses and process that religious traditions inscribe on women are central to maternal identity formation whether women endorse, challenge, reject, or reinvent these traditions, and mothers are still regarded as primary agents in religious transmission and inculturation. The complexity of the articulations between religious, feminist and even maternalist discourses, even within mainstream traditions, has already been demonstrated. Religion has been criticized for reproducing traditional gender models and normative models of motherhood, and anthropology and religious studies have focused mainly on maternal relationships and mother work during infancy and early childhood.
Developing from these rich conversations between religion, gender, feminism and maternalism, this panel calls for ethnographically grounded contributions to explore how and why normative presentations and experiences of motherhood reinforce or trouble religion, both at the collective and the individual level, within and outside of institutions, and in multicultural contexts. Papers are welcomed on a range of themes, including (but not necessarily limited to):
- Religion, motherhood and concepts of choice (including voluntary and involuntary motherhood)
- Motherhood, women's religious authority, power, and agency (or lack thereof)
- Religion and mother-work
- Motherhood and religious practices , traditions, scriptures
- Motherhood and religious identities
- New forms of religious and spiritual kinship