and lay observers alike have long recognized the relationship between
everyday life and performance. Some hold to a sharp split between that
which is authentic, true, or real, on one hand, and that which is
contrivance, façade, or "mere" performance on the other. Others indicate
that any lines separating "performance" from "life" are
indistinguishable or not useful, that all of life is performance, that
human interaction of any sort is a text to be read in a variety of ways,
that social meaning and identity are in fact performatively
Judith Butler and others
have directed attention to performativity and the way it can contest and
disrupt accepted meanings, truths, and values. In the performing arts,
artists have questioned, theorized, embodied, represented, and troubled
social meanings and subjectivities, and have deployed performance in the
service of resistance and change. Performance ethnographers and
biographical/autobiographical researcher-performers have explored
performance dimensions of identity, culture, ritual, and ceremony, as
well as the ways in which research findings can be represented through
performance, taking research beyond traditional scholarly venues to
reach lay audiences and shed prismatic light for academic audiences.
Performing Motherhood places these ideas center stage in maternal studies.
exploring the relationship between performance and the maternal,
contributions to this anthology will pay particular attention to how
mothers effectively exercise agency in personal and/or familial
identity, and/or to how particular performances can affirm or activate
maternal choices, grounded as they are in given social locations.
seek the following in particular: 1) essays that are empirically and
theoretically grounded that explore/complicate everyday life
performances of the maternal; 2) creative performance texts that explore
maternal agency; and 3) theoretical or research-based examinations of
broad scale maternal performance, from community or global activism to
the 'performing arts'.
Questions to consider include but are not limited to:
do women and families enact/perform mothering in ways inconsistent with
widely accepted norms (whether general social norms or assumed
"feminist" or "progressive" norms) and how do they make that work for
them, personally and socially?
- How is maternal identity performatively constituted for the multiplicity of ways that people mother beyond biological ties?
are some of the micropractices/performances that mothers engage in, or
orchestrate in their families, that allow them to live self-determined
lives? How does mundane practice/performance complicate and shape
individual, familial, and social meaning.
what ways do particular ritual or theatrical or activist performances
suggest or embody affirmations of motherwork, maternal agency, or
marginalized maternal voices, and what might these performances teach
- How do performing arts practitioners who are also mothers negotiate multiple identities?