Lynne Segal in conversation with Lisa Baraitser

Lynne Segal, Lisa Baraitser
2009 Studies in the Maternal  
This conversation, between Lynne Segal and Lisa Baraitser, is the first in a number of planned intergenerational conversations between what are usually termed second-wave feminists and what could be referred to as the 'daughters' of this generation. 1 Conversations of this kind seem important for a number of reasons. Since MaMSIE was established, it has become clear that different generations tend to speak differently about the maternal, and sometimes there is quite a serious tension between
more » ... tension between generational positions. It could be argued that tensions between various positions are not necessarily linked to generational shifts or breaks but rather are rooted in theoretical disputes, say between those who approach maternal related issues primarily from psychoanalytic perspectives as opposed to those who approach it sociologically. It seems, however, that discussions about motherhood are characterised by tensions that are more than mere manifestation of disciplinary differences. Tension, that is, seems to be a constitutive part of any discussion whose subject matter is the maternal. We believe that by paying attention to the intergenerational aspects of discussions concerning motherhood and the maternal, we might avoid overlooking its multidimensional characteristics. To be sure, we are not interested in labelling positions according to the generations to which they allegedly belong. Rather, we suggest thinking about the intergenerational dynamic in a dialogical setting. We might then also gain better understanding of the ways in which temporality manifests itself in the construction of different positions regarding the maternal. Conversations constitute the possibility to go beyond formal exchanges of ideas. They enable a dynamics where acts of voicing and listening are bound together dialectically. A process of such kind enables us to witness the fact that different approaches are never simply representations of disciplinary interests, but rather are expressions of practical, ideological and political concerns. More concretely, the act of conversing may give us the opportunity to avoid treating the maternal in an overly  1 Whether articulated as 'third' or 'fourth wave' feminists, or simply those who inherited and have chosen to engage with the legacies of the second wave.    Lynne Segal in conversation with Lisa Baraitser Introduction by Sigal Spigel Studies in the Maternal, 1 (1) 2009 abstract manner and consider its inherently situated character. Reaching consensus is not the purpose of these conversations. The context of intergenerational conversation compels the participants to reconsider and re-negotiate their respective positions, their understanding of the past, the present and the future of the maternal. In other words, it offers an opportunity to engage with a genealogy: an active consideration of cultural psychosocial constructions of the maternal as they become apparent within historical/generational and biographical contexts. Arguably, one of the main objectives of feminist thought throughout the generations has been to highlight the significance of generating a genealogy of the maternal. As Irigaray noted, a genealogy of that kind is necessary so that the 'daughter could situate herself in her identity with respect to her mother' (Whitford 1992, p.159). We hope that this series will contribute to such a genealogical enterprise, enabling the emergence of a variety of maternal subjectivities that can coexist alongside one another. This series of proposed conversations will hopefully also help to establish the possibility of negotiating diversities as well as the exploration of continuities and discontinuities amongst those who have been engaged with the feminist project. A longstanding fascination with mother-daughter relations among feminists is related to the desire for such explorations to lead to a better understanding of female psychological development. The need to constantly re-think mother-daughter relations has been expressed by feminists such as Irigaray
doi:10.16995/sim.113 fatcat:3ltgu6xarnhsrekdoaigporyli