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Constructing the (M)other

Narratives of Disability, Motherhood, and the Politics of «Normal»


Edited By Priya Lalvani

Constructing the (M)other is a collection of personal narratives about motherhood in the context of a society in which disability holds a stigmatized position. From multiple vantage points, these autoethnographies reveal how ableist beliefs about disability are institutionally upheld and reified. Collectively they seek to call attention to a patriarchal surveillance of mothering, challenge the trope of the good mother, and dismantle the constructed hierarchy of acceptable children. The stories contained in this volume are counter-narratives of resistance—they are the devices through which mothers push back. Rejecting notions of the otherness of their children, in these essays, mothers negotiate their identities and claim access to the category of normative motherhood. Readers are likely to experience dissonance, have their assumptions about disability challenged, and find their parameters of normalcy transformed.

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Writing, whether for a book or otherwise, might appear to be a solitary activity. However, an author never writes alone; like all human endeavors, writing is an act of collaboration with one’s environment. Even when we write in (physical) isolation, we feel the presence of those whose ideas influenced our work, the socio-political climate in which the work is undertaken, the audiences (real or imagined) for whom the work is intended, and all those individuals who support us along the way.

While it is impossible to enumerate every contributing factor or list each person who made this book possible, I would like to express my gratitude to those individuals who directly shaped or supported this project, as well as those who provided me with sustenance while I gestated this book from its conception to its birth.

My deepest gratitude is owed to the authors who contributed to this book—the remarkable group of scholars, teachers, teacher-educators, activists, and mothers whose paths intersected with mine as we journeyed to claim or reclaim our motherhood from the tyranny of normal. I am grateful for their willingness to share their complex, poignant, powerful, and, at times, ironic stories, even though doing so meant laying bare their most private experiences and revealing their most vulnerable selves. This book is a result of their deep commitment to expanding an understanding of the constructed nature of both disability and motherhood. It is my privilege that they joined me in this...

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