Narratives of Mothers Who Mother in a Foreign Environment


In the last three decades there has been a growing number of mothers' own narratives of mothering in contemporary women's writing throughout Europe and North America. Narratives of mothers who mother in a culturally and linguistically foreign environment are part of this trend, they are also relatively recent and can be seen as both a result of and a reflection on the reality of growing global mobility in the last two decades, especially in Europe. The powerful emotional link between the language and the self puts motherhood and the language of mothering in a special relationship that is essential to mother's subjectivity. Most fictional narratives of mothering in a foreign environment engage with this phenomenon to a greater or lesser degree and allow for some classification of mothers according to their linguistic preferences in relation to their children. They fall into the following types: silent mother, multilingual mother and trans-lingual mother. In this paper I will be drawing on several texts in different European languages mostly British, possibly American English and French, but also Lithuanian in order to try and understand how and why mothers fall into one category or another, how that affects their maternal subjectivities, their bond with their offspring, how it impacts their intimate experience of mothering, and how much mothering experiences and maternal subjectivities are influenced by culturally determined roles assigned to mothers in their country of origin and their host country.

Author Information
Eglė Kačkutė, Vilnius University Gender Studies Centre, Lithuania

Paper Information
Conference: ECCS2014
Stream: Trans-cultural displacement/belonging

This paper is part of the ECCS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon