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Maternalism, Femonationalism, and the “Traditional Family Values”

Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Motherhood From the Eastern Europe and the Baltics

This two-day workshop focuses on the intersecting themes of motherhood in relation to conservative and anti-gender policies, as well as resistance in the context of Eastern European and the Baltic Sea region region. The workshop aims to bring together researchers from diverse academic backgrounds and different countries in Northern and Eastern Europe to delve into an examination of governmental strategies, the utilization of motherhood by political parties, organizations, and social movements, and their impact on women and queer individuals’ rights and material realities.

Feminist scholarship has recognized how diverse conservative ideologies in countries like France, Italy,
the Netherlands, Germany and the US frequently invoke the symbolic figure of “mother” as a central
marker of their policies (Farris 2017; Dietze 2020; Stoeckl 2020). Sara Farris (2017) has introduced the
notion of “femonationalism” to explain how nationalist or populist agendas advance their exclusionary
agendas by co-opting feminist ideals and the protection of women’s rights discourses, particularly in the
context of immigration policies. Others have documented how right-wing political agendas are now
manifesting the appearance of “new maternalism” rhetoric through political reconstructions of traditional
motherhood as a celebrated form of women’s empowerment in ethno-nationalist projects (Dietze 2020).
However, inquiries into contemporary forms of ideological engagement with maternal citizenship in
nationalist projects have so far been limited to the context of only several countries in Eastern Europe
(Graff & Korolczuk 2021).
In recent decades, ideas about the importance of preserving the “traditional family” have been utilized by
right-wing ideologists in several countries in several Eastern European countries, with Russia, Hungary,
and Poland standing out as prominent examples, to undermine the rights of LGBTQ+ people and women.
Notably, the authoritarian Russian government incorporated the ideology of “traditional values” into its
anti-Western rhetoric while launching the aggressive war against Ukraine. Therefore, we aim to explore
the deliberate employment of maternalism (and femonationalism, when applicable to questions of
maternal citizenship) as a strategic tool in conservative nationalist political discourses as well as its
utilization by various actors who resist these agendas within the context of Eastern Europe and the
We broadly understand maternalism as the complex interplay, whether discursive and/or institutional,
between maternal citizenship and the state that takes shape within multifaceted discourses concerned with
politics of care. By adopting a comparative perspective, our workshop seeks to illuminate the distinctions
and commonalities across countries, facilitating a nuanced understanding of these intricate dynamics.

Confirmed key-note speaker: Prof. Sara Farris, (Goldsmith, University of London)

Prof. Sara R. Farris is a sociologist specializing in migration, gender and the political economy of
care and social reproduction. Her research is particularly concerned to address: the role that
migrant and racialised workers play within economies of care and social reproduction; the
financialisation and corporatisation of care and the racialisation of sexism. She is well known
internationally for her research on “femonationalism”, or the mobilisation of feminist themes by
nationalist parties within anti-immigration campaigns. She is the author of “In the name of
women's rights. The rise of femonationalism” (Duke UP, 2017).

Time and place

17 October 2024, 09:00 - 18 October 2024, 13:30


Södertörn University, Department of Gender Studies, find us


Arranged by

Gender Studies



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