Cyber Labour: Birth Stories on Mommyblogs as Narrative Gateways into Maternal Thinking

Astrid Joutseno

Abstract


This article deals with birth stories on mommyblogs as a narrative genre through which writers become participators in maternal thinking and practices. Grounded in the feminist new materialism, feminist literary studies and social media studies, this article investigates the positions of writing and reading birth stories as well as their effects and connectedness to discourses on mothering, difference, agency and digital subjectivity. Through examples from birth-story posts this article shows how birth stories construct mothering both online and offline. As I sketch out birth stories as gateways into mommyblogging and reading, I weave in an autoethnographical narrative of encountering birth stories while I was pregnant. In my close reading of birth story examples from mommyblogs, I focus on the concepts of relationality, the cyborg, as well as maternal agency, thinking and practice. I analyze norms, narration of difference, and the reflexive relationality these maternal narratives create. What I discover is a digital (m)other: a shifting maternal subjectivity of a cyber mother, who appears liminally in both digital and material condensations.

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We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its ongoing support of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.