Motherhood & Words

goodbye ARM, hello motherhood institute

I’m sure some of you have heard that the Association for Research on Mothering (ARM) has been forced to close its doors. ARM was established in 1998 and was the first international feminist organization devoted specifically to the topic of mothering and motherhood. With members from over 20 countries around the world, ARM reached across borders and scholarly disciplines, connecting women, mothers, and scholars from across the globe. ARM hosted three conferences each year, published the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, and also published books through Demeter Press.

But York University, where ARM was housed, was not willing to support the research center. You can read more about that here.

I was actually slated to present a paper at the joint ARM/Mamapalooza conference in New York this spring, and I was thrilled that I would finally meet ARM’s founder, Andrea O’Reilly, and its wonderful coordinator, Renée Knapp. I won’t meet Andrea this year, but I am hoping to meet her someday soon at a conference, a Motherhood Institute for Research and Community Involvement conference.

In the wake of the announcement of ARM’s closing, there was an outpouring of support. Letters were written to York University officials, and there was a flurry of commiserating and outraged e-mails being sent back and forth between ARM members.

It was clear to O’Reilly that the work ARM was doing needed to continue. So a few weeks ago, O’Reilly announced that a new organization on motherhood would be formed and would begin operations on May 1, 2010. The Motherhood Institute for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI) is the newly launched feminist scholarly and activist organization on mothering-motherhood. It will continue the work of ARM, move in new directions and take on new projects.

The institute will house the Journal of the Motherhood Institute (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 it will be partnered with Demeter Press. Memberships to MIRCI and subscriptions to the Journal of the Motherhood Institute will commence May 1, 2010.

In an age where writing and research about motherhood is often ignored or discarded (I know you’ve heard me say this before), it’s vital to have organizations like MIRCI working to bring motherhood research out of the limelight. So, join MIRCI if you haven’t already. Or make a donation so their motherhood research, activism, and community work can continue without interruption.

Thank you, Andrea and Renée, for continuing with this important work!

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Melissa on April 14, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I'm so glad they worked out a solution for continuing the work of motherhood research. It's just not a priority in most research programs, and shedding light on the actual lived conditions of motherhood–and the wide variety of conditions therein? This stuff matters. It matters for imagining and effecting policy change, it matters to women who need validation of their own experience, it matters in the pursuit of equity. Hello MIRCI, indeed!

  2. Alex on April 14, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    I'm gong to check this out. I think that motherhood (well, women in general) are often ignored in academia and we are RAISING THE NEXT GENERATION OF EVERYONES!! Thanks for the post!

  3. The Blue Suitcase on April 15, 2010 at 4:39 am

    This is a little off the subject, but I wish I could hear your presentation at the conference! You're such an incredible presenter.

  4. kate hopper on April 16, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Exactly, Melissa and Alex! So well said.

    Thanks, Bonnie. I wish I was still going to be able to do it!