Feminist Review 100 (1):1-5 (2012)

In her 1999 article ‘The Scent of Memory’, Avtar Brah maps the ways in which gendered, classed and racialised identities and subjectivities are produced in the diaspora space of Britain. ‘The Scent of Memory’ begins, repeatedly returns to and ends with the figure of a mother — Jean, a white English woman in the Southall of the 1970s and 1980s. One way of reading this article is as a series of interruptions, each of which allows us to see Jean differently, to replace her in what Brah has memorably termed the entanglement of genealogies of dispersion with those of staying put. In this article, I stage my own set of speculative interruptions, through which recent feminist theorising of maternal subjectivities confronts the ways in which the maternal and the reproductive are conceptualised, metaphorised and mobilised in contemporary accounts of community cohesion, Britishness and belonging. At stake is our ability to challenge those still-dominant discourses that naturalise repetition and sameness as the necessary ground of belonging, obscuring and ignoring the gendered, racialised and other differences that mark Britishness, and which thereby reproduce the migrant and the minoritised as a problem for the stability of British identities. Following on from and extending Lisa Baraitser's claim that thinking about the relationship with the other ‘might just as well start with the mother’, I ask whether rethinking the reproductive can enable a more complex account of the ways in which ‘the native’ is transformed in diaspora spaces.
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DOI 10.1057/fr.2011.67
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Mothers Who Make Things Public.Lisa Baraitser - 2009 - Feminist Review 93 (1):8-26.

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