2019-2020

Maternal Politics

African American Studies/Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

The project examines black motherhood in an age of Black Lives Matter. I am fundamentally interested in how black mothers have increasingly become the public face of Black Lives Matter, and in the spectacular cultural attention currently devoted to black maternal life (and death) such that black maternal health has been situated as a crisis that must be remedied. My project studies contemporary debates about black maternal and infant mortality, black breastfeeding, and black birthworkers, with an interest in how black mothers are both taking up the idea of “crisis” to advocate for their needs (and their lives) and disrupting the idea of their bodies as the site of crisis in visual and literary representation. I would be tremendously grateful to work with a student invested in Black Lives Matter politics and organizing, black feminist theory, black studies, and/or race and public health. The student would assist me in continuing to research a few topics: public health debates about black women and breastfeeding, debates about birth-work (especially birth doulas) in metro-Boston, 20th and 21st century black maternal memoirs. I have always worked with undergraduate research assistants, and I am eager to help undergraduates develop their research skills and agendas, and to discuss how my research questions might spark students’ own research projects.