Laura Mulvey in conversation with Griselda Pollock
Studies in the Maternal
LM -Laura Mulvey GP: Hello Laura. Welcome to this virtual presence at the conference organised by MaMSIE, at Birkbeck and CentreCATH at Leeds where we are aiming to explore the status of the mother: real, social, economic motherhood, and the imaginary mother about which psychoanalysis makes us think. This leads to considering the role of the mother in feminine subjectivity and the role of the mother in culture. So we are going to be exploring a number of things during the course of this
... rse of this conference and we were very keen to invite you to participate because of Riddles of the Sphinx -as one of the most important events, not only in feminist cinema and avant-garde poetics in the 1970s, but one of a very profound series of reflections by feminists in the 1970s on motherhood and the meaning of the maternal in culture. So I'm going to ask you a number of questions to try and take us from the larger picture closer to the actual text. So the first question I'd like to put to you is to think a little bit about the 1970s, about feminism and why motherhood and the maternal seemed to be such an important part of feminism in the 1970s. Do you have any thoughts on why that was such a central question for us then? LM: The question of motherhood was of enormous importance in the early days of the growth of women's political consciousness in the Women's Movement before it engaged with the more abstract questions and principles of feminism. Motherhood was one of the first issues around which women organised themselves. Furthermore, the status of the mother in patriarchal society raised questions that ranged from those of immediate social, everyday experience to the more abstract issues of culture and ultimately led towards the psyche, towards the unconscious that structured patriarchy. In their early consciousness-raising discussions, women brought on to the agenda practical questions about how women's oppression was experienced in everyday life, articulating and beginning to analyse those common denominators of oppression from which they were particularly suffering.