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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.

“Priya Lalvani has curated a gift—a critical carnival of stories. In Constructing the (M)other we meet women weaving lives that blend joy and imagination, battling the ideological syrup of pity/grief/loss, seeking spaces for full recognition of complex, gorgeous, and sometimes struggling children, in a society drunk on fantasies of normal. Lalvani is a brilliant writer who holds together this book where soul-ful and truths-ful women across race/ethnicity/class/language/education/nations, and children with a sparkling range of abilities and needs, animate the pages. This volume is a mirror, a speak back, truth in a post-truth society, a protest, and a celebration. Grab a glass of wine and climb in. I promise you won't want to leave until you get to the most delicious epilogue, that lingers in every cell of my body.”—Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Critical Psychology, Gender/Women's Studies and Urban Education, The Graduate Center, CUNY

“This stunning collection of mother narratives illuminates the intimate space where motherhood, disability, and society intersect. Lalvani has drawn together oft-untold stories from culturally diverse mothers of children with disabilities who share what it means to negotiate shifting and complex cultural constructions of motherhood outside the socially-defined ideal. Constructing the (M)other is a fresh and significant contribution to a disability studies perspective on mothers and children with disabilities and a must-read for all educators committed to meaningful parent-professional partnerships.”—Jan Valle, Professor of Inclusive Education and Disability Studies, City College of New York