Margrit Shildrick is Reader in Gender Studies at Queen’s University Belfast, and Adjunct Professor of Critical Disability Studies at York University, Toronto. Her publications include Leaky Bodies and Boundaries: Feminism, (Bio)ethics and Postmodernism (1997), Embodying the Monster: Encounters with the Vulnerable Self (2002) and Dangerous Discourses of Disability, Sexuality and Subjectivity (2009), as well as several edited collections. Her current research is on transplantation and prostheses.
Given that psychoanalysis is so often the privileged discourse in the relation to the maternal feminine, it makes good sense to ask whether a Deleuzian alternative should be heard. The difficulty is that the whole discourse of the maternal and motherhood is represented only by silence in Deleuze’s own work, and feminist scholarship has largely failed to remark that absence. Nonetheless I look to Deleuze for an approach that decisively contests any psychoanalytic model that bases itself around the concept of lack – however that might be twisted and transformed in relation to the maternal – and that incorporates a positivity that might critically revalue the feminine. Starting with a brief excursus through phenomenology, I consider two pertinent issues: first that the ‘event’ of giving life might be rethought in the mode of the impersonal; and second that the slide from encounter to connection, and from maternal-foetal embodiment to the notion of assemblage, might open up at very least a quasi-Deleuzian notion of positive flows, desire and energies. Could becoming-maternal figure more productive pathways that transform our understanding of the materiality of motherhood?