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Irreconcilability in the digital: gender, technological imaginings & maternal subjectivity

By HM Thornham


Drawing on empirical research from two focus groups, this article investigates the narratives and discourses that emerged around pregnancy, technology, birth and motherhood. In so doing, the article engages in some longstanding debates within feminism around embodied and maternal subjectivity, agency and identity (see for example Hirsch 1992, Irigaray 1985, Kristeva 1980, Lazarre 1976, Adams 1994). Seen here, the focus groups serve initially to remind us of the pervasiveness of gender inequality and the continual ambiguity of, and anxieties around, maternal subjectivity. Secondly, the focus groups reconfigure these issues through a technological lens, which in turn, seems to offer new spaces where agency can be (momentarily, problematically) claimed. This in turn, extends existing debates in new directions through the particular framework of technology that is variously figured here as an object, as information and as imaginary digital space. All of these constructions however, become problematic as they - despite their promises - nevertheless ultimately and profoundly return the women to an emplaced, embodied subjectivity that has been at the heart of feminist debate for so long

Publisher: 'Springer Science and Business Media LLC'
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.1057/fr.2015.14
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