Performing Matrescence: Becoming and Unbecoming

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Matrescence – a term coined by the anthropologist Dana Raphael (1975) – is defined as the process of becoming a mother and describes the physical, psychological, and emotional changes that occur. [Note 1] Lucy Jones’s recent book Matrescence: On the metamorphosis of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood (2023) situates becoming mother in the wider context of the natural world and argues that many of the rituals and support systems that are important during this time are missing from Western cultures. In this becoming, there is also a sense of unbecoming, of the “irreplaceable clarity of the borders of the self” (Baraitser, 2009: 49) being blurred or eroded. [Note 2]

This article explores matrescence as simultaneously becoming and unbecoming through analysis of two case studies of performance works made by mother/artists based in Scotland in response to their experiences of matrescence during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Note 3] Laura Bradshaw’s Matrescence (2022) (fig. 1) and Stephanie Black-Daniels’ Position & Attachment (2022) (fig. 2) explore becoming a mother in relation to particular outdoor sites through the lens of maternal performance-making (Šimić & Underwood-Lee, 2021, 2023) via diptych film works.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Mother Studies
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 17 Oct 2023

Author keywords

  • maternal performance; matrescence; digital performance; site-specific; COVID19