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Tags: polymaternalism , feminist philosophy

This winter school explores the relation between feminism and motherhood through the topic of polymaternalism.


The winter school on Feminism and Motherhood will reflect on the complicated but philosophically rich relation between feminism and motherhood. While famous second-wave feminists like Simone de Beauvoir publicly opposed motherhood, and many contemporary feminists still find it difficult to reconcile motherhood with their feminist convictions, other strands of feminism like black feminism have always pointed out the feminist potential of the experience of mothering. Rather than spelling out the complicated relation between feminism and motherhood directly, we will explore it through the topic of polymaternalism.

The winter school is organised by Joke Struyf and Katrien Schaubroeck (Philosophy Department, University of Antwerp).


Through guest lectures and discussions we will explore experiences and theories which challenge monomaternalism, i.e., the idea (or belief) that a child can have only one 'real' mother. We will discuss how (public) discourse on mothering and motherhood shapes the idea of who is a mother and who is not. Possible topics for discussion are stepmothers, foster and adoptive mothers; gendered dimensions of mothering; othermothering; how to mother ourselves; milk kinship; multiple parenthood; (transnational) surrogacy…

Through lectures, workshops and bookclubs we will address questions such as:

  • Is a stepmother a mother, and who gets to decide that?
  • If a child has been carried by a surrogate mother of colour, should this child be considered to be of colour?
  • What is the difference between genetic, biological and intended mother, and is it relevant to try to find out who is the ‘real’ mother?
  • Can fathers mother, or should they?
  • Is it legally possible for a child to have more than two parents?
  • Can epigenetics help to argue for polymaternalism?

Maternal studies are an interdisciplinary field which is reflected in the theories guiding our exploration: feminist philosophy, maternal theory, black feminism, crip theory and queer theory, amongst others.


6 ECTS credits are awarded upon successful completion of the programme.

Course number:
Short- en long-term programmes, Micro-credentials
Area of interest:
Medicine, Social Sciences, Nursing, Philosophy and Ethics
Academic year:
2023 - 2024
Starting date:
Confirmed speakers are: Sophie Lewis, Shelley M. Park, Frederik Swennen, Rodante van der Waal, Siggie Vertommen, Noëmi Willemen and Alisa Zhabenko.
Contact person:

Stadscampus, University of Antwerp, Belgium

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