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Feminism and Motherhood in Western Europe, 1890–1970

The Maternal Dilemma

Authors: Allen, A.

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About this book

According to Allen, motherhood and citizenship are terms that are closely linked and have been redefined over the past century due to changes in women's status, feminist movements, and political developments. Mother-child relationships were greatly affected by political decisions during the early 1900s, and the maternal role has been transformed over the years. To understand the dilemmas faced by women concerning motherhood and work, for example, Allen argues that the problem must be examined in terms of its demographic and political development through history. Allen highlights the feminist movements in Western Europe - primarily Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, and explores the implications of the maternal role for women's aspirations to the rights of citizenship. Among the topics Allen explores the history of the maternal role, psychoanalysis and theories on the mother-child relationship, changes in family law from 1890-1914, the economic status of mothers, and reproductive responsibility.

About the authors

ANN T. ALLEN is Professor of History at the University of Louisville. She has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the History of Sexuality, History of Education Quarterly and is the author of Feminism and Motherhood in Germany, 1800-1914. She also contributed to a piece on the international kindergarten movement in Kindergartens and Cultures.

Reviews

"How did maternal destiny morph into a "maternal dilemma"? To some 21st century readers, the pairing of feminism and motherhood may seem contradictory. Ann Allen's accomplishment is to dispell that seeming contradiction by unearthing a rich and important series of feminist debates about motherhood, which she then analyzes within a comparative, transnational framework. From the 1880s to 1970, progressive women and men throughout western Europe addressed the benefits and handicaps imposed on women as mothers in male-controlled economies and nation-states. They came up with very radical answers and creative, sometimes conflicting solutions that had the potential to empower mothers independently of husbands and fathers or to establish egalitarian male-female partnerships, in either case seriously threatening the prevailing male legal and economic hegemony. Can one then be surprised that their woman-centered proposals stirred up serious opposition? Can one wonder that, subsequently, their ideas about constructing woman-friendly welfare states became distorted in application, before being threatened (as is the case today) with dismemberment? Allen's book is exceedingly important for understanding the history of European nations precisely because it insists on the centrality of gender and the politics of reproduction to "mainstream" history. It illuminates today's ongoing debates, including those in the United States, about the "dilemma" women still face in trying to combine family and employment within the "clockwork of the male career," as Arlie Hochschild once put it. It likewise provides rich background for understanding the current controversies that swirl around popular novels that resuscitate the "female principle,"such as The Da Vinci Code. To read this book is truly to experience an "Ah Haa!"moment." - Karen Offen, Institute for Research on Women & Gender, Stanford University "In this outstanding addition to the burgeoning new history of motherhood, Ann Taylor Allen explores the "motherhood dilemmna" faced by modern women, families, and states. Grounded in thorough knowledge of multiple national histories, feminist movements, and intellectual trends, this book is filled with important information and interesting tales that show how women have faced and sought to resolve conflicts between their responsibilities as mothers and as rights-bearing individuals. The history of motherhood belongs as a topic on every syllabus in women's history and cultural studies, and this book shows why." - Marilyn J. Boxer, Professor of History Emerita, former Vice-President of Academic Affairs, San Francisco State University.


Table of contents (11 chapters)

Table of contents (11 chapters)
  • Introduction: From Destiny to Dilemma—Motherhood In the Twentieth Century

    Pages 1-18

    Allen, Ann Taylor

  • “Aeons of Wrong”: Mothers in Prehistory and History

    Pages 19-40

    Allen, Ann Taylor

  • From Patriarchy to Partnership: Feminism, Motherhood, and the Law in Western Europe, 1890–1914

    Pages 41-62

    Allen, Ann Taylor

  • Employment or Endowment? The Dilemma of Motherhood, 1890–1914

    Pages 63-86

    Allen, Ann Taylor

  • “The Right of the Child to Choose its Parents”: Motherhood and Reproductive Responsibility in the Prewar Era

    Pages 87-110

    Allen, Ann Taylor

Buy this book

eBook $64.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-1-4039-8143-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase Institutional customers should get in touch with their account manager
Hardcover $149.99
price for USA in USD
Softcover $84.99
price for USA in USD
Softcover $84.99
price for USA in USD
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Feminism and Motherhood in Western Europe, 1890–1970
Book Subtitle
The Maternal Dilemma
Authors
Copyright
2005
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan US
Copyright Holder
Ann Taylor Allen
eBook ISBN
978-1-4039-8143-1
DOI
10.1057/9781403981431
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-4039-6236-2
Softcover ISBN
978-0-230-60232-8
Softcover ISBN
978-1-349-52690-1
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XI, 354
Number of Illustrations
7 b/w illustrations
Topics