Accepted Papers:

Motherhood politicized: gender, morality and political right-wing activism at Mexico's northern border  


Tine Davids (Radboud University)
Lilia Venegas (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH))

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper analyses discourse on motherhood as site for political struggle, addressing female activism within the PAN, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Making intelligible, the imaginary on motherhood as a governmentality that informs female activism, and the discourse of the PAN.

Paper long abstract:

This paper analyses the cultural repertoire of gender, in particular the discourse on motherhood as site for political struggle in the context of female political activism within the Partido Accion Nacional, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. We aim to make intelligible how the imaginary on motherhood becomes a governmentality that informs the activism of women as well as the institutional discourse of the PAN, which was the ruling party in Mexico for the last twelve years. This governmentality tends to gain importance at particular moments of transition, crisis, or key-shifts in Mexico's political history. As part of the struggle for democratization and modernization processes, when ideas about modernity challenge more traditional values, women, their sexuality, and in particular their traditional roles as mothers, tend to become a site for contestation. We will analyse and discuss, based on the case of Ciudad Juárez, and research executed in 1986, 1992 and 2013, how this discourse on motherhood figures, and gains meaning, within the political power struggle at different moments in time. We find that, although very strongly manipulated in the past by the PAN, and still present in the way women negotiate their spaces and agency as political activist, the significance of this discourse is changing. Within the Northern border dynamics on violence, the recent shift of female activism from the political to the civil society arena marks the gaining political impact and importance within this last arena of the cultural repertoire on motherhood, in particular concerning mothers and feminists as activists.

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