An Anthropology of Mothering


Price: $34.95

Page Count: 314

Publication Date: December 2011

ISBN: 978-0-9866671-8-3

In anthropology, cross-cultural research is fundamental. In relation to “mothering,” cross-cultural research becomes enlightening, not only to understand the practices of so-called Others, but also to understanding ourselves. The Anthropology of Mothering has developed fairly unnoticed until the last couple of years, when an increase of research, attention, and respect has suddenly appeared. Geographically, this anthology focuses on places and populations from Canada, the United States, Central and South America, the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. The experiences and ideas represented within this volume are much more than geographically diverse, as Indigenous and immigrant, rural and urban, religious and secular populations are represented, as well as one chapter focused on primate and hominid mothering. Through the consideration of the experiences of grandmothers, au pairs, biological and adoptive mothers, mothers of soldiers, mothers of children with autism, mothers in the corrections system, among others, it becomes clear that human mothering is neither practiced nor experienced the same the world over – indeed, even a single definition of what “mothering” is cannot be formed by the contribu- tors of this anthology. Instead, while ideas of ‘good’ mothering exist in every culture, the effects of colonialism and migration, as well as different understandings of and relationships to food, religion, and government play prominent among many other factors, includ- ing age, relationship status, and sexuality of mothers themselves, to affect what is understood as ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ mothering.  

Michelle Walks & Naomi McPherson

Introduction: Identifying an Anthropology of Mothering
-Michelle Walks

Awkward Engagements in Mothering: Embodying and Experimenting in Northwest China
- Kelly Dombroski


An Evolutionary Motherline: Great Ape Mothers and Hominin Foremothers
- Pat Miller-Schroeder

Burning the Apron Strings: How 21st Century Women Conceptualize Mothering in Comparison to That of Their Own Mothers
– Maya Bhave

Making Mothers: Birth and the Changing Relationships of Mothering in Pango Village, Vanuatu
-Alexandra Widmer

Flows of Language: Intergenerational Connections and Language Transmission among dän k’è (Southern Tutchone) speakers
- Jenanne Ferguson


Reconceptualising Mothering: Mothers and Infants in Crisis in the Kimberley, Western Australia
- Gaynor Macdonald & T. John Boulton

Medicalized Motherhood: Biomedical and Qur’anic Knowledge Informing Childrearing Practices
- Elizabeth M. Urbanowski

Breastfeeding and the “good mother” ideal in São Paulo, Brazil
- Alanna Rudzik

Breastfeeding, Subjugation, and Empowerment in Rural Guatemala
– Anita Chary, Shom Dasgupta, Sarah Messmer, & Peter Rohloff


An Andean Paradigm or Mothering
- Mary Louise Stone

Cape Verdean Student Migrant Mothering and the Pendulum of Power
– Elizabeth Challinor

“The Ascetics of the Home”: Women and the Spiritual (Re)production of Maronite Lebanese Identity in Australia
– Nelia Hyndman-Rizk

Mothering as Ideology and Practice: The Experiences of Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Shubhangi Vaidya

Becoming a ‘Single-Mom’: Featuring Motherhood Over Marital Status Among Malays in Muslim Malaysia
– Audrey Mouser Elegbede


Navigating the Tricky Waters of Maternal Militarization: Experiences of Being a Soldier’s Mother in Turkey
- Senem Kaptan

Mothering Woes: ‘Mothering’ and the Mother-Au Pair Relationship
-Anna Kuroczycka Schultes

Mothers in the borderland: child adoption in Misiones province, Argentina
- Moníca Tarducci (translated by: Sabrina Yañez)

Mothering in the Shadow of the United States Correctional System
- Susan Sered & Maureen Norton-Hawk

-Naomi McPherson

Author & Editor Bios


Michelle Walks, a PhD student at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, is passionate about queer issues, reproductive health, mothering, and feminist anthropology. Her work has been published in the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering (now the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative), and Canadian Woman Studies.

Naomi McPherson is an Associate Professor of Anthropol- ogy at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, in Kelow- na., BC. Naomi is an established scholar, with extensive field- work experience in New Britain (Papua New Guinea), the author of In Colonial New Guinea: Anthropological Perspec- tives, and is also the new Editor-in-Chief of Anthropologica