The Contradictions of Scientific Motherhood

8 June 2009, 17:00 - 18:30

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane

Prof. Rima Apple (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Part of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Reproduction Forum (CIRF)  Seminar Series. 

Alternate Mondays in term


Scientific motherhood has refined and redefined what it means to be a good mother, a proper mother. Throughout our history, motherhood has been considered a primary, if not the primary role of women, and most women did become mothers. But the foundation of appropriate mothering has shifted over the decades from a natural, inborn ability to care for children akin to maternal love into a skill that requires extensive training. Women increasingly allowed and even encouraged scientific and medical experts to intervene in their daily lives, to such an extent that even everyday childrearing tasks such as bathing and dressing became medicalized. The analysis of scientific motherhood reveals women coping with the trials and tribulations of the daily grind of childrearing, as well as the trauma of illness. Women are often depicted as passive victims of medicalization. This paper documents women's active participation; they accepted, rejected, and reshaped medical and scientif ic pronouncements in order to ensure the health and well-being of their children.


All welcome. No registration required.

Part of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Reproduction Forum