The Role of Care in Contemporary Capital.
The production of values and knowledge would be unimaginable without the reproduction of life as such. Obviously, a mother’s role goes far beyond basic biological reproduction; in fact, mothers define the production of subjectivity itself. Yet although their labor of love is so central, mothers have constantly been excluded from older conceptions of production, stigmatized as the performers of unpaid dirty work, incapable of sparking any social change whatsoever.
The recent emergence of movements like Global Women’s Strike, the Committee of Soldier’s Mothers in Russia, the Mothers of the Plaza De Mayo, and a number of other organizations show that mothers are consciously taking on their role as an important collective force, further adding to a fundamental reconsideration of the role of motherhood in society, production, and politics.
What does it mean to be a mother and to be an artist, poet or curator, a producer in an economy chiefly based on the circulation and exploitation of knowledge? Children generally keep their mothers from working; they even interfere with traditional jobs. How are mothers supposed to realize themselves socially and politically, if today’s economy demands that its participants be more and more efficient and flexible in terms of workplace, place of residence, profession, lifestyle and scheduling?
The everyday practice of a mother’s routines brings experiences that are fundamentally new: it entails new knowledge and new abilities that you would not have otherwise. Whenever these gains are applied to a mother’s social and professional activities, they decisively alter this activity’s meaning. Yet unfortunately, motherhood also demands stability. How can a mother overcome the resulting inertia? Which conditions must we all create to make it possible for a mother to act not only within the family but also beyond its bounds, in the broader nexus of social and political relationships?
Today, the goal is not simply to find a compromise between motherhood and job life, but to search for other possibilities of their creative interrelation. By imagining the solution of this conflict, we can find new paths for changing society at large.
In today’s post-Fordist world, traditional conceptions of family and work are falling apart; as the social net unravels, people progressively lose comfort and security, at least in their customary forms. The rate of this process may vary from place, but it is happening all over the world. Is it possible to take up of the challenge of these new conditions, in which the production of life itself is instituted through new forms of biopower? Can mothers revolutionize the labor and lifestyle of motherhood, if motherhood itself is conservative sui generis? Can motherhood become the counter-power capable of breaking the existing, “male” order of things?