Mothering And The Environment: The Natural, The Social, The Built

October 23, 2009

A (M)other world is possible. By, Joy Rose

The Association For Research On Mothering Conference in Toronto, hosted by York University and organized by Dr. Andrea O’Reilly, Heidi Hutner, Genevieve Vaughan and Heide Goettner-Abendroth convened yesterday for three days of Feminist, Activist Maternal discourse on a broad range of subjects that all fall loosely under the heading ‘Mothering and The Environment.

This year’s conference includes keynotes from professors, authors and Phd students from Japan, Germany, Holland, USA, Austria, Canada and England to name a few.

Woman Carving in Tree

Topics which focus primarily on Mothering and The Environment include examining the interface between the environment and mothers-motherood-mothering by considering issues like ethics, citizenship, home/homelessness, food security, migration, family, nature, built environments and more.

Ecofeminism emerged in the 1970’s heightening an awareness between women and nature and examining power structures, including the domination of humans over nature.

Displays, power-point presentations and conversations at the conference focus on the relationship between us and all that is around us. To this end, mother earth is being deeply examined and ultimately honored.

An embedded conference on Matriarchal Studies and The Gift Economy include heady subjects that explore new social and cultural models as ways to solve many of the contemporary and economic problems of patriarchal capitalism. With today’s global recession there is a suggestion that exchange versus greed and domination will ultimately lead to new ways of doing business.

Inter-related themes of economic (reciprocity), social (marilinearity), political (egalitarian societies of consensus) and cultural (sacral societies as cultures of the Goddess) connect at this intersection of academic discourse and lively interactions that go well into the night.

As a moon-lighting popular culture rock star, my place here could be questioned. But, really the passion and earnestness of the conference attendees is compelling beyond anything else I could imagine. The attendees are diverse in age, geography, attitude and opinion. They are feminists, and they are mothers.

Conversations blend between home-life, work-life and world-life, and like the Tibetan monks spinning their prayer wheels for peace, the women here are invested in something rich and wonderful that goes beyond today’s economics. There is an energy about it – almost like a prayer. They work for a better, kinder, nobler world.

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