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Sociology Departmental Seminar with: Lisa Baraister (Birkbeck College, London)

Date: 29 March 2011 Time: 16.15 - 18.00

Venue: FASS Meeting Room 2/3

"Maternal Publics: Time, Relationality and the Public Sphere"

This paper takes as its starting point an image of the word MOTHER carved into a derelict wall in the East end of London. I use this 'maternal monument' to think about questions of the public and the contradictory temporalities of global capitalism .This continues recent work on what mothers 'make public' and how we can think about contemporary forms of collectivity through the maternal, understood as a figuration of precarious and ambivalent dependency. In this paper, I take up the theme of the 'public time' - an articulation of the public sphere in its temporal dimensions as a site for the welling up and erasure of collective memory. I develop Stephen Wright's concept of 'time without qualities' (Wright, 2009) as a way to understand the disturbance that the maternal produces in the contradictory temporalities of an 'accelerated society', arguing that maternal time is neither cyclical nor monumental (as in Kristeva's early paper, Women's Time) but the 'wasteful' time of waiting for childhood to unfold, situating the maternal, paradoxically, along with queer, on the nether side of reproductive futurism (Edelman, 2004). This notion of the public time as a time of 'waiting' allows time without qualities to be re-inserted into what is otherwise totally qualified time, and simultaneously allows a different account of maternal temporality to emerge.

Lisa Baraister

Birkbeck College

School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy Department of Psychosocial Studies



Who can attend: Anyone


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Organising departments and research centres: Sociology


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
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