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Maternal heritage: remembering mothering and motherhood through material culture

Pascoe Leahy, C ORCID: 0000-0002-6517-5034 2021 , 'Maternal heritage: remembering mothering and motherhood through material culture' , International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 27, no. 10 , pp. 991-1010 , doi:

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New motherhood is mediated through the material world. In this liminal, vulnerable period of matrescence, consumption of and interaction with objects co- constitutes the mother and her child. Material culture is central to motherhood, as mothers negotiate preparation, mastery and memorialisation of their maternal role through objects. While some objects are used once then discarded, other objects are saved for longer periods, either by individuals within private collections or by curators in cultural institutions. In preserving certain aspects of the material culture with which mothers interact, a form of maternal heritage is created which is inescapably partial. This article examines the ways in which mothers, mothering and motherhood are preserved and memorialised in public and private collections. It analyses maternal material culture in cultural institutions alongside personal archives, drawing out the synchronies and divergences between them as well as the ways in which material culture has changed since the mid-twentieth century. It concludes by discussing the ways in which the maternal heritage constituted through institutional and private archiving makes possible certain aspects of the history of mothers while obscuring others.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Pascoe Leahy, C
Keywords: history, heritage, mother, maternal, museum, material culture, mothering, motherhood, matrescence
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Heritage Studies
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1352-7258
DOI / ID Number:
Copyright Information:

© Carla Pascoe Leahy

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