York journal explores academic motherhood and COVID-19 in special double issue

Black single frustrated woman hold her head with hands sitting on chair in living room, playful kids jumping on couch on a background. Tiredness, depression difficult to educate children alone concept

Twenty-seven female scholars have contributed to a special double issue of York University’s Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (JMI) exploring the theme of ‘Academic Motherhood and COVID-19.’

Published as the double issue for fall 2020 and spring 2021, the journal features 18 articles that investigate different lines of inquiry as to how COVID-19 affects motherhood for those in an academic role.

Andrea O'Reilly
Andrea O’Reilly

Andrea O’Reilly, York University professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, is the journal’s founder and editor-in-chief.

There has been little research on the specific impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mothers and motherwork, says O’Reilly, adding that this special double issue is the first to explore the impact of the pandemic on academic mothers’ care and wage labour.

With a global perspective (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan and the United States) and from the standpoint of single, partnered, and racialized mothers in the academe as graduate students and faculty, the issue examines: the increasing complexity and demands of childcare, domestic labour, elder care and home schooling under the pandemic protocols; the intricacies and difficulties of performing wage labour at home; the impact of the pandemic on mothers’ academic employment and/or study; and the strategies academic mothers have used to manage the competing demands of care and wage labour under COVID-19.

Contributing to this issue is Tracey Norman, a contract faculty member in the Department of Dance, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design. Norman is a Toronto-based choreographer, educator, producer, performer, researcher and mother of two young children. Her choreography has been presented on stages across North America. She holds a MFA in choreography and dramaturgy, and is current president and resident artist of the Intergalactic Arts Collective (IGAC), an artist-run organization that focuses on research and creation.

Journal of the Motherhood Initiative cover

In her contribution, titled “Problematic Intersections: Dance, Motherhood, and the Pandemic,” she discusses her experience of mothering and working through the pandemic. Largely presented in the form of testimonials, the article shares insights from her interviews with 40 mothers who are scholars and artists working in either or both academic dance and professional artist work.

“This article examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on an already vulnerable group of Canadian artists and scholars in the field of dance,” the article’s introduction reads. “The aim of this article is to interrogate the systemic problems mothers have always faced in the dance field, which have now been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to highlight the positive contributions coming out of this time of crisis, including requesting reasonable and honest support as well as eliminating the social stigma around motherhood in dance.”

For a full outline of the special double issue and access to all of the articles, visit the issue link.

JMI is a product of The Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI), a peer-reviewed feminist scholarly and activist organization on mothering-motherhood developed from the former Association for Research on Mothering at York University (1998-2010). The initiative houses JMI (formerly the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering), Mother Outlaws, The International Mothers Network, The Young Mothers Empowerment Project, The Motherhood Studies Forum and is partnered with Demeter Press.

JMI was developed to be an integral part of community building for researchers, academics and grassroots, as well as mothers interested in the topic of motherhood. The mandate of the journal is to publish the most current, high-quality scholarship on mothering-motherhood and to ensure that this scholarship considers motherhood in an international context and from a multitude of perspectives including differences of class, race, sexuality, age, ethnicity, ability and nationality.