Motherhood and the Family in Global Health, Development, and Humanitarianism

The image of women and children as a coherent, recognized unit - has formed one of the most dominant, long-lasting motifs in humanitarian, global health, and development work. There may be no more prescient signifier of conflict, hunger, and poverty than the tired, worried mother clutching her emaciated child to her breast. But women and children have also been presented as critical sites of intervention, as the foundation of national strength, and as promising agents of change. This course examines how a variety of actors, eugenicists, colonial officials, feminists, child rights activists, public health professionals, states, and global institutions; have centered motherhood and the family within a diverse set of political and social projects. How did the fate of women and children become so closely tied to one another in discourse and practice? How has this history been shaped by imperialism and race, class, and national inequality? What are the underlying structures that lead us to task families with building nations, solving conflicts, and/or preventing poverty? What happens to non-procreative women, wayward girls and boys, fathers, and queer families when we see women and children as the core of kinship and reproduction? Is this an inherently conservative tradition, reinforcing traditional gender relations, or can motherhood be a progressive, even radical vision? Can we decolonize or revolutionize our understanding of and engagement with parenthood, reproduction, and the family? In asking these questions, we will interrogate how our most basic assumptions about reproduction and the family may either create space or set limits to different projects, policies, and forms of social activism, while also exploring a variety of alternative frameworks.







Gender Studies, Geschichte


Universitäre Hochschulen (UH)