Emory Report
February 23, 2009
Volume 61, Number 21

Remaining events

FEB. 25
“Yo’ Mama’s Dysfunktional: The Impact of Single Motherhood on Black Manhood, Futures and Families in the Age of Obama.” 7 p.m. Morehouse College.

FEB. 27-28
“Incarceration and Human Rights.” 575 Gambrell Hall.


“A Celebration of Motherhood: The Arts As Activism.” 7 p.m. Tull Auditorium.

Angela Davis, Women’s History Month Keynote. 7 p.m. Ebenezer Baptist Church.

All events are free and open to the public. For details, visit http://rdi.emory.edu.



Emory Report homepage  

February 23
, 2009
Exploring race, class and motherhood


Two linked art exhibitions at Emory are stimulating awareness, action and discussion about the challenges faced by less-privileged mothers and incarcerated women. They also generated a unique collaboration between Atlanta-area universities.

Curated by historian Rickie Solinger, the traveling exhibitions are on display through March 12 at the Woodruff Library’s Schatten Gallery. “Beggars and Choosers: Motherhood is Not a Class Privilege in America,” features 60 photographic images challenging the idea that motherhood should be a right only for the privileged, and “Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States,” features eight linked installation pieces documenting the experiences of women in prison, many created by inmates.

The two-month exploration of motherhood at the intersection of race and class includes film screenings, arts performances, university courses, lectures, and an academic conference hosted by Emory Law’s Feminism and Legal Theory Project that examines incarceration and human rights from a legal framework. A keynote speech by civil rights and women’s rights activist Angela Davis, in honor of Women’s History Month, will conclude the events – most free and open to the public, and hosted on the campuses of the participating schools.

“These exhibits and series of events provide an opportunity for the Atlanta community to come together to discuss these and related issues,” says Esther Jones, a race and difference postdoctoral fellow at Emory. Jones worked with Emory’s Race and Difference Initiative, the Vulnerability Studies Project, and The Feminism and Legal Theory Project to bring together multiple disciplinary units across Emory, as well as to collaborate with the Atlanta Consortium of Colleges and Universities (ACCU) to develop the programming.

The scheduled display of the Solinger exhibits at Emory provided the impetus for this unique ACCU partnership. “It was opportunity to actualize the kind of collaboration we are seeking to develop across campuses,” says Jones, “and to generate discussions across campuses of the themes that the exhibits engage regarding race and class.”

Jones is teaching one of two university courses designed to “directly interface” with the exhibitions. “Bad Black Mothers: Representations of Motherhood in Black Literature, History, and Cultures,” an undergraduate course at Emory cross-listed in English, Women’s Studies, and African American Studies, “takes a decidedly humanistic approach” to the topic, says Jones. A complementary course at Georgia Tech, “Social Issues and Public Policy,” takes the social science perspective. The two classes share some of the same reading material and the Emory and Georgia Tech students will collaborate on projects on the same topics.

“This has never been done before, so we’re very excited to see how the students will engage with each other with varying perspectives on the topics,” says Jones.

“What I hope students will get out of this course, as contributors to the world, is that they will question the status quo and interrogate the current systems, and advocate on behalf of incarcerated and less-privileged women.”

Jones hopes that the collaborative program with the ACCU will create “an impetus for further collaborations and conversations between and amongst the universities and the communities at large. This is an opportunity to support each other, particularly during these times when the economic crisis has everyone reeling.”