Transformative Motherhood: On Giving and Getting in a Consumer Culture

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Overview

Our consumer culture sets exacting standards rand norms for what constitutes an ideal child. The tough realities of life often create children and child-bearing and rearing circumstances that are outside the ideal. How do women whose experiences don't match the norm cope and adapt? How do they make sense of it to themselves and to the world?

In a rich series of ethnographic case studies, Transformative Motherhood intimately conveys the experiences of women in the United States who, in each case, have reproductive encounters that do not match up to these cultural standards. From women who choose to become surrogate, foster, or adoptive mothers, to others who give birth to children with disabilities or who have had a pregnancy loss, all creatively meet the challenges posed by their particular mothering experiences. It is often the language of giving and getting, so prominent in a consumer culture, that these women use to make sense of their situation.

In the process, Transformative Motherhood redefines conventional understandings of motherhood, the mother/child relationship, and the role of biology and the law in determining what constitutes a family.

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Editorial Reviews

Resources for Feminist Research
This text opens up multiple possibilities for reading contemporary women as responsive speaking subjects involved in reconstructing and transferring meanings without consolidating or totalizing their outcomes.
Booknews
Using case studies of women who have had mothering experiences that do not necessarily match our cultural understanding of the term, such as women who have been surrogates, taken in foster children, or adopted children, and even those who have birthed children with disabilities, contributors explore our images and ideas about motherhood, the mother-child relationship, and the role that biology and the law play in determining what constitutes a family. The essays were first presented in 1997 at the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

"This text opens up multiple possibilities for reading contemporary women as responsive speaking subjects involved in reconstructing and transferring meanings without consolidating or totalizing their outcomes."

-Resources for Feminist Research,Winter/Spring 2001, Vol. 28, No. ¾

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814751558
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda L. Layne is Hale Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Foreword
Introduction: The Child as Gift: New Directions in the Study of Euro-American Gift Exchange 1
1 Freely Given: Open Adoption and the Rhetoric of the Gift 29
2 The Gift of Life: Surrogate Motherhood, Gamete Donation, and Constructions of Altruism 65
3 Gifts and Burdens: The Social and Familial Context of Foster Mothering 89
4 Does God Give Special Kids to Special Parents? Personhood and the Child with Disabilities as Gift and as Giver 133
5 "True Gifts from God": Motherhood, Sacrifice, and Enrichment in the Case of Pregnancy Loss 167
Contributors 215
Index 217
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