Speakers: Dr Pragya Agarwal (Loughborough) and Dr Maud Perrier (Bristol)
Respondent: Professor Lynne Segal (Birkbeck/City)
Chair: Jo Littler, City, University of London
In this session Pragya Agarwal and Maud Perrier introduce their respective new books, (M)otherhood: On the choices of being a woman and Childcare Struggles, Maternal Workers and Social Reproduction, both of which are concerned with the complex lived realities, challenges and political climate of motherhood today.
(M)otherhood: On the choices of being a woman (Canongate) considers how, in a world where women have more choices than ever, society nevertheless continues to define women by whether they embrace or reject motherhood; whether they can give birth or not.
Pragya Agarwal uses her own varied experiences and choices as a woman of South Asian heritage to examine the broader societal, historical and scientific factors that drive how we think and talk about motherhood.
She looks at how women's bodies have been monitored and controlled through history, and how this shapes the political constructs of motherhood and womanhood now.
(M)otherhood probes themes of infertility, childbirth and reproductive justice, making a powerful and urgent argument for the need to tackle society's obsession with women's bodies and fertility.
Maud Perrier’s book Childcare Struggles, Maternal Workers and Social Reproduction (Bristol UP) is a comparative study (spanning the UK, US and Australia) which brings maternal workers’ politicized voices to the centre of contemporary debates on childcare, work and gender.
Childcare Struggles, illustrates how maternal workers continue to organize against low pay, exploitative working conditions and state retrenchment and provides a unique theorization of feminist divisions and solidarities.
Bringing together social reproduction with maternal studies, this is a resonating call to build a cross-sectoral, intersectional movement around childcare.
Maud Perrier shows why social reproduction needs to be at the centre of a critical theory of work, care and mothering for post-pandemic times.
These talks will be followed by a response from Lynne Segal and a Q&A with the audience.
About the speakers
Dr Pragya Agarwal
Dr Pragya Agarwal is a behavioural and data scientist, Visiting Professor of Inequities and Social Justice at Loughborough University, and the founder of research think-tank The 50 Percent Project. She is the author of Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias (which was a Guardian Book of the Week) and Wish We Knew What To Say: Talking with children about race, both published in 2020. Her most recent book (M)otherhood: On the choices of being a woman was published in June 2021, and the paperback published in January 2022. @drpragyaagarwal
Dr Maud Perrier
Dr Maud Perrier is Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at the University of Bristol. Her research focuses on care work and social reproduction, class, feminism and pedagogy. She was the co-Principal Investigator of the project 'Experiments in Collective Care’ with Junko Yamashita, the co author with Maria Fannin of 'Refiguring the postmaternal: Feminist Responses to the Forgetting of Motherhood', and her new book Childcare Struggles, Maternal Workers and Social Reproduction is being published by Bristol University Press in February 2022.
Lynne Segal is Emerita Professor of Psychology & Gender Studies at Birkbeck and Visiting Professor at the GSRC at City, University of London. Her many books include Beyond the Fragments (1980) Is the Future Female? (1987) Straight Sex (1994) Why Feminism? Gender, Psychology, Politics (1999) Slow Motion: Changing Masculinities, Changing Men (2007) Making Trouble (2007) Out of Time (2013) Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy (2017) and The Care Manifesto (2021) @lynne_segal