Introduction: Spaces of Motherhood

  • Sarah Hardy
  • Caroline Wiedmer


One of the West’s most enduring icons of motherhood, the Madonna with child, is represented on the cover of this book within a number of conceptual frames, each inflecting the image differently. Most immediately the figure of the Madonna belongs to a religious institution that has served for more than two millennia as a scaffolding for social relations across the Western world. The image proper, we are informed by the small print on the lower left-hand side, was painted by Lorenzo Costa and now belongs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, circulating thus as a commodity in the art world and public domain. The painting in turn was “acquired” by the government of the United States to serve as a postage stamp, to be sent out to millions of households across the nation, indeed across the world, at Christmas time. While the religious, economic, and artistic meaning of the painting changes as it passes from context to context, the cultural meaning of the painting s subject, the woman with child, appears to remain stable throughout: we do not question it. In fact, we seem intuitively to know what it signifies.


Child Care Child Care Provider Domestic Space Narrative Space Actual Mother 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    Compare Joan Williams, Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 145–177.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    bell hooks, Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (Boston: South End Press, 1990), 41–50.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (NewYork: Routledge, 1991), 54.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Compare Gillian Rose, Feminism and Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1993), 179–198.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sarah Hardy and Caroline Wiedmer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Hardy
  • Caroline Wiedmer

There are no affiliations available

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