Motherhood Hall of Fame, York prof one of first inductees

Museum of Motherhood image

York women’s studies Professor Andrea O’Reilly will be one of the first three Women of Excellence, motherhood activists and scholars, to be inducted into the Motherhood Hall of Fame Thursday in New York City.

The induction ceremony will take place March 6 during the Museum of Motherhood conference, Making Motherhood Visible, which will run from March 6 to 8. Psychotherapist, best-selling author, and psychology and women’s studies Professor Emerita Phyllis Chesler of the City University of New York (CUNY) and Professor Barbara Katz Rothman of CUNY will be inducted along with O’Reilly.

Andrea O'Reilly
Andrea O’Reilly

“It recognizes and validates the work I have sought to do as over the past two decades, namely establish motherhood studies as a legitimate and autonomous feminist scholarly discipline,” says O’Reilly.

“It also shows that my work as both a scholar of motherhood, and more specifically as founder-director of a research centre (Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, formerly the Association for Research on Mothering) and press (Demeter Press) on motherhood, being so honourably recognized has proven the naysayers wrong – that motherhood does matter and that motherhood studies has indeed arrived, now with a museum of its own.”

In addition, O’Reilly will deliver the keynote address at the conference, “Ain’t I a Feminist?: Matricentric Feminism, Feminist Mamas and Why Mothers Need a Feminist Movement/Theory of Their Own”. The paper will examine how feminist theory and women’s studies have incorporated various and diverse theoretical models to represent the specific perspectives and concerns of particular groups of women – global feminism, queer feminism, third-wave feminism and womanism.

In contrast, O’Reilly argues that women’s studies has not likewise recognized or embraced a feminism developed from the specific needs or concerns of mothers, what she terms “matricentric feminism”. The paper will consider possible reasons for the exclusion of matricentric feminism in feminist theory and why this school of feminism must be accorded the same legitimacy and autonomy as other feminist theoretical models in the discipline of women’s studies.

O’Reilly is also the editor and author of several books, including Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart (SUNY Press, 2004) and Rocking the Cradle: Thoughts on Motherhood, Feminism and the Possibility of Empowered Mothering (Demeter Press, 2006).

Her other honours include 1998 and 2009 York Teacher of the Year awards and a 2007 Atkinson Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research.