M(o)ther Trouble (30-31 May 2009)

full name / name of organization: 
Birkbeck School of Psychosocial Studies, MaMSIE, and CentreCath (University of Leeds)
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KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Bracha Ettinger (EGS, Saas Fee) and Adriana Cavarero (Verona)

M(o)ther Trouble is a two-day international conference on the maternal, psychoanalysis and feminism. It brings into dialogue major thinkers who have called for the acknowledgement of the significance of the maternal (metaphor and psychic structure) and motherhood (social and subjective process and experience) for culture and society. The maternal is understood broadly as lived affective and embodied experience, social location and social relation, political and scientific practice, economic and ethical challenge, and as a theoretical question and structural dimension in human relations, politics and ethics. The conference is linked to an exhibition of artworks by Bracha Ettinger at the Freud Museum, and the conference fee includes free entry to the exhibition.

Over the last three decades two key spaces have attempted continuously to instigate discussions about the maternal: psychoanalysis and feminism, the latter functioning as an internal critique of the former when the two terms became historically engaged post 1968. Since then, both feminism and psychoanalysis have shifted and changed, as have the conditions under which women mother in our current technologically driven era of advanced capitalism. Consequently, debates on the maternal have been reworked, moving from an examination of the effects of mothering under patriarchy on women's lives, to its valorization, to current analyses that chart the impact of globalization and its technologies on maternal subjectivities, identities and ethics. The maternal itself has emerged from these debates as a way of thinking 'beyond' or 'outside' inherited and prescribed modes of thought due to its capacity to unsettle philosophical models of subjectivity that are grounded in indivisible individualism.

This varied re-engagement with the maternal in its contemporary configurations now raises new questions about the powerful contributions of psychoanalysis and feminism to our current understandings of the maternal. It is timely to ask how psychoanalysis and feminism have themselves shifted and changed and what contributions are they now making to our understandings of contemporary maternal experience.

The conference includes:
• keynote talks by Bracha Ettinger and Adriana Cavarero
• parallel panels with invited discussants on Psychoanalysis, Reproduction and the Genetic Imaginary; Hate, Ambivalence, Matricide; and Maternal/Matrixial Ethics
• representations of the maternal in film: Laura Mulvey and Alison Rowley in the evening.

In addition, there are three workshop sessions on Saturday afternoon. These are designed to provide further space for discussion and will not include formal papers. Instead, in each of the three workshops participants are asked to present relevant work for 10 minutes each, to serve as a departing point for conversations with the workshop attendees. You can attend the workshops as either audience or participant. If you would like to be a participant, please send a proposal for a 10-minute presentation. Proposals can either address the broad conference themes or may introduce other relevant interventions. We are particularly interested in points of intersection between feminism, psychoanalysis and the following issues:

• maternal experience, identities and subjectivities;
• maternal and pregnant embodiment and affectivity;
• racial, ethnic, national and transnational genealogies of maternity;
• the cultural politics of reproduction, natality and birth, including the impact, meanings, histories and possibilities that arise from new reproductive technologies;
• maternal desires, sexualities and genders, queer maternal bodies, and trans-familial practices;
• maternal aesthetics and representations of the maternal in literature, performance, digital and visual culture;
• 'good' and 'bad' mothering;
• maternal ethics and the ethics of care.

All the papers that are accepted (regardless of whether they are presented on Saturday afternoon) will be circulated on the conference electronic site and will be part of the conference proceedings.

If you would like to present your work, please send a short description of your proposal (maximum 250 words) to mamsie@bbk.ac.uk (deadline 24 April 2009).

To register to attend the conference, please e-mail mamsie@bbk.ac.uk or visit www.mamsie.bbk.ac.uk.

NB. The conference fee of £100 (£45 students) includes free entry to:
BRACHA ETTINGER: Resonance/Overlay/Interweave:
Paintings, Drawings and Notebooks of Bracha Ettinger in the Freudian Spaces of Memory and Migration
The Freud Museum, 3 June 2009 - 25 July 2009