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An Edited Collection

by Demeter Press

The Palin Factor: Political Mothers and Public Motherhood in the 21st Century

Editors: Andrea O’Reilly and Deirdre M. Condit

The nomination of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican party Vice Presidential nominee in the 2008 U.S. president election has initiated a public conversation about the meaning and depiction of Sarah Palin and her role as a publicly elected, working “hockey mom.” Despite Palin’s active embrace of her “hockey mom” image, her public motherhood remains enigmatic. The election of women to public office has been a central goal of the women’s movement precisely because the voices and experiences of women and mothers have been, from the outset of our democracies, simply absent. Whether or not Sarah Palin continues in national public life following the 2008 election, she is a breakthrough figure for public women who mother small children. Moreover, Palin’s national candidacy offers an opportunity for public and academic discourse about what it means to be an elected, and thus public, representative of other women and wage earning mothers. This edited collection seeks to inaugurate a timely, interdisciplinary, theoretical and critical discussion of the Palin phenomenon as an iconic representation of public motherhood.

Topics include but are not limited to:

Media representations, interpretations or responses to Palin’s motherhood; Public discourse on Palin balancing her work as Governor or Vice Presidential candidate and being a mother; Her role as a public mother of a child with disabilities; The impact of her as a wage working mother on voters; Her status as a policy making mother on disability policy; Palin as an icon for conservative, Christian-identified non-wage working mothers; The evident conflict between Palin’s self-identification as a Christian Conservative, whose values include “traditional gender roles,” and the juxtaposition of her evident work and family life style; The sexualization of Palin among white, conservative, working men and its impact on their discourses about mothers and motherhood; Her transformational role as the “head of the family,” and her husband’s public transformation as the “little man” at home; Discussions of public or party rhetoric about “working mothers”; The conflicting responses among liberal women’s groups concerning Palin’s status as a working-mother feminist; The commodification of the “hockey” mom identity in politics; Palin’s public/private mothering conflicts; Public displays and deployment of the motherhood trope; Racialized responses to Palin’s mothering style and messages; Public life and the possibilities of “intensive mothering”; Palin and political motherhood and the politics of Motherhood; The transparency of public mothering; in the Palin case; Feminist discourse on Palin; Sexism, Mother Blame in Politics; Mothers in Politics/Mothers as Politicians; Public representation of and responses to Palin as the mother of a teen mom; Political tokenism and mothers; Sexuality, motherhood and politics; Gendered responses to Palin as mother and as politician; Progressive versus conservative positioning of mother politicians; The Republican deployment, use and misuses of Palin (Palin as a sacrificial lamb); Palin and Mothers’ Rights; (Mis) readings of Palin as Pro-Mother; Palin and the (new?) conservative/religious right feminism; Hillary Clinton and Sara Palin.

Please submit a 250 word abstract and 50 word bio February 1, 2009 to (Accepted chapters (of 15-18 pages in length) due July 1 2009)

Association for Research on Mothering (ARM)
Demeter Press
726 Atkinson, York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON,
Canada, M3J 1P3
416-736-2100 x60366 (fax) 416-736-5766

Amy Stockwell Mercer is a freelance writer living in Charleston, SC with her husband and three sons. An MFA graduate in Creative Writing from Queens University, she writes about art and artist profiles for Charleston Magazine, The City Paper, Charleston Art Mag, and Art Papers. Amy also writes about living with chronic illness, and is finishing a book about women with diabetes for Demos Health. When she needs to get out of her own head, she teaches college students how to write the 5 paragraph essay. You can read more of her writing at her website.

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