Breastfeeding as headwork: Corporeal feminism and meanings for breastfeeding

Article


Bartlett, Alison. 2002. "Breastfeeding as headwork: Corporeal feminism and meanings for breastfeeding." Women's Studies International Forum. 25 (3), pp. 373-382. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-5395(02)00260-1
Article Title

Breastfeeding as headwork: Corporeal feminism and meanings for breastfeeding

ERA Journal ID35240
Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorBartlett, Alison
Journal TitleWomen's Studies International Forum
Journal Citation25 (3), pp. 373-382
Number of Pages10
Year2002
Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
ISSN0277-5395
1879-243X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-5395(02)00260-1
Web Address (URL)http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277539502002601
Abstract

Recognizing that there is now a corpus of feminist work that theorizes the body, sometimes termed corporeal feminism (Volatile bodies: toward a corporeal feminism, 1994), this paper seeks to apply some of those theories in their transformative potential to the practices, policies and experiences of breastfeeding of the late twentieth century in the west. As an example of material sexual difference, the physiology of breastfeeding is examined in comparison with other cultural and institutional discourses. On the narrative level, all are found to varying degrees to characterize breastfeeding as a matter of headwork, as an activity to be learned and managed rather than embodied. Duplicating the preoccupation with and privileging of mind over matter common in western epistemology has entailed a shift in knowledge/power from mothers to professionals at a time when women’s corporeality is most active and symbolically significant. New narratives are therefore sought and tentatively applied, which involve reconceptualizing what we understand the brain to be, and ways in which we might strategically read the body (and breasts) as literate and thoughtful.

ANZSRC Field of Research 2020440599. Gender studies not elsewhere classified
441004. Social change
440503. Feminist theory
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Humanities and Communication
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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