Breastfeeding & Culture: Discourses and Representations
Page Count: 340
Publication Date: April 2018
For myriad reasons, breastfeeding is a fraught issue among mothers in the US and other industrialized nations, and breastfeeding advocacy in particular remains a source of contention for feminist scholars and activists. Breastfeeding raises many important concerns surrounding gendered embodiment, reproductive rights and autonomy, essentializing discourses and the struggle against biology as destiny, and public policies that have the potential to support or undermine women, and mothers in particular, in the workplace. The essays in this collection engage with the varied and complicated ways in which cultural attitudes about mothering and female sexuality inform the way people understand, embrace, reject, and talk about breastfeeding, as well as with the promises and limitations of feminist breastfeeding advocacy. They attend to diffuse discourses about and cultural representations of infant feeding, all the while utilizing feminist methodologies to interrogate essentializing ideologies that suggest that women’s bodies are the “natural” choice for infant feeding. These interdisciplinary analyses, which include history, law, art history, literary studies, sociology, critical race studies, media studies, communication studies, and history, are meant to represent a broader conversation about how society understands infant feeding and maternal autonomy.
Ann Marie A. Short teaches English, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Intercultural Studies at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN. Her previous publications have appeared in Literature Compass, MELUS: The Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States and Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal. In addition to motherhood studies, her scholarship focuses on Anglophone postcolonial and immigrant women writers.
Abigail L. Palko is the Director of the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at the University of Virginia. Her scholarship focuses on cultural and literary representations of mothering practices. Her book, Imagining Motherhood in Contemporary Irish and Caribbean Literature, is available from Palgrave Macmillan. She co-edited Mothers, Mothering and Globalization with Dorsía Silva Smith and Laila Malik for Demeter Press. Her work has appeared in a number of journals and Demeter Press publications.
Dionne Irving’s work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Boulevard Magazine, The Normal School, The Crab Orchard Review, and other places. She is a professor at Saint Mary's College, a women's college in South Bend, Indiana. Currently, Irving is working on a novel set in Jamaica.