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Source: York University

Motherhood issues the focus of major York U conference

October 23, 2006

The largest conference ever organized on the subject of motherhood will begin on Thursday in Toronto, with a name that reflects the size and scope of the project: "The Motherlode: A Complete Celebration of Motherhood."

It is the 10th anniversary of the first international conference on motherhood organized in 1997 by professors Andrea O’Reilly and Nancy Mandell of York University’s Centre for Feminist Research. The response to that first conference led to the establishment of the Association for Research on Mothering (ARM), which now has more than 600 members in two dozen countries.

While previous ARM conferences focused on a particular motherhood theme or issue, the Motherlode conference will consider every imaginable motherhood issue, says O’Reilly, director of the association.

"This conference is very much interdisciplinary, with scholars from fields as varied as women’s

studies, business and the visual arts. "We will have academics and activists discussing how best to meet the needs of mothers – particularly those who are disadvantaged. We will also be addressing topics that have not been researched enough – for example, mothers and HIV, mothering children with disabilities, reproductive health, teen mothers, and raising bi-racial children."

ARM, which was founded in 1998, has since established both a journal and, more recently, the first feminist scholarly press on motherhood, and it has hosted annual conferences focused on topics such as mothering and work, and motherhood and sexuality.

This year’s conference will not only consolidate motherhood studies as a vibrant academic discipline, but will take it up a notch, says O’Reilly. There are 200 academics and activists from more than 10 countries scheduled to speak at the conference, on topics ranging from concepts of motherhood in rural Brazil to blogs about motherhood. More than 20 visual and performance artists, poets, writers and storytellers will present their work during a gala literary night, and there are a number of interesting plenary sessions planned, including "Motherhood, Representation and Public Policy" for example, and "Motherwork: Challenging the Status Quo."

Some of the leading presenters at the conference include:

· Andrea Doucet (Carleton University, author of Do Men Mother?)

· Ann Douglas (author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books)

· Andrea O’Reilly (York University, author of Rocking the Cradle: Thoughts on Feminism, Motherhood and the Possibility of Empowered Mothering)

· Ann Crittenden (author of The Price of Motherhood)

Academics, social workers, activists, midwives, policymakers and others will take part in the conference, discussing experiences of motherhood in countries as varied as China, Uganda, India, France and Australia. A few of the many topics at the conference are: post-partum depression, new reproductive technologies, raising transgendered children, fetal alcohol disorder, sex trade workers, mothering and globalization, and adoption.

WHAT: The Motherlode, 10th anniversary conference on mothering

WHEN: Oct. 26 to 29, 2006

WHERE: The Courtyard Marriott Hotel, Downtown Toronto (Yonge and Carlton)

WEBSITE: for the conference program, see

York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 190,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 11 faculties and 23 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.


For more information contact:

Janice Walls, York Media Relations, 416 736 2100 x22101/



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