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PRE-ORDER Mother State: A Political History of Motherhood - Helen Charman

PRE-ORDER Mother State: A Political History of Motherhood - Helen Charman

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PUBLISHED 29 AUGUST 2024; get your tickets for our event with Helen, discussing Mother State, here


“The care of children is a social responsibility that rightly should be shared by all of us. Still, though, this isn’t the case: in the UK today, mothering is frequently politicised, but rarely acknowledged in all its fullness to be political.”

Charman has written an impassioned and highly researched first political history of motherhood in the UK and Ireland in the last fifty years, in order both to recapture and propose the idea of motherhood as a collective, political act – to consider the bearing and/or raising of children to be the responsibility of society as a whole. We are all the children of mothers whose social circumstances and political experiences have moulded us as much as her care. In this sense, mothering has always been collective and political. But it is seldom seen that way.

Arguing that we need to understand motherhood itself as an inherently political state, one that poses a serious challenge to the status quo, here are stories from the front lines of mothers’ fights for alternative futures. From Women's Liberation to austerity, Margaret Thatcher to Kat Slater, we meet communities of lesbian squatters and anti-nuclear campaigners, the wives of striking miners and teenage mothers protesting housing cuts: groups who believed that if you want to nourish your children, you have to nourish the world around them too.

Growing up the daughter of a ‘single mum’ in the 1990s, Helen Charman believed in the notion of a ‘maternal’ state. Was that notion of the state or of motherhood ever a reality? Could we imagine, today, a world where mothering ceases to be a solely individual responsibility and becomes one of shared possibility – a term to organize under, for people of any gender, with or without children of their own? If so, it begins with an understanding: that to mother is a political act.

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