Project Description

From the politics of reproductive justice, to care labor, to nonnormative family constellations, contemporary artists have dramatically reshaped representations of motherhood. Such interventions move beyond the maternal as a matter of biography and iconography, historically tied to the reproductive female body. Encompassing instead a multiplicity of views, from queer and Black motherhood to cis-men claiming this lived terrain, the maternal would now seem to operate as a site of critical agency, with the potential to render strange our first and foundational encounter with otherness.

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The M/Other Project: Leuphana Prof. Jordan Troeller is a Freigeist-Fellow of the VolkswagenStiftung

Research Program

A multi-year research initiative based at Leuphana University, The M/Other Project seeks to describe and assess this transformation:

  • Does the so-called maternal turn in contemporary art equate to a transversal of values, supplanting patriarchal and Eurocentric concepts of art?
  • Or is artistic maternalism simply feminism for hard times, a retreat during a backlash of neo-conservativism and neo-nationalism?
  • What can such artworks, moreover, tell us about the analytical uses of the maternal, particularly art history’s opposition between biological reproduction and artistic creativity?
  • In moving from a paradigm of creation against procreation to creation as procreation, might those moments of sustaining life also be our most creative?

Multi-Year Funding Initiative at Leuphana University

Generously funded by the VolkswagenStiftung’s Freigeist initiative, The M/Other Project is a multi-year research project based at Leuphana University. It is docked at the Institute of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, in collaboration with the Institute of Art, Music, and Education.

The M/Other Project investigates maternal aesthetic practice across a range of disciplines, including education, literature, critical theory, and feminist philosophy. In addition to close-readings of artworks and archival research, the project also employs a comparative analysis, examining artworks produced in Europe, the U.S. and Latin America—cultural contexts in which the contradictions of the maternal have been especially acute.

Call for Applications

Three Positions for Researchers

Calls for applications for three PhDs (prae-doc wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter*innen) will be released in Spring 2024 on Leuphana’s website as well as posted on Prospective applicants will be asked to submit a well-developed dissertation proposal, including a research plan (travel stipends are available) and bibliography.

For questions, please contact Prof. Dr. Jordan Troeller.

Head of Project and Contact

  • Prof. Dr. Jordan Troeller

Freigeist Fellowship of the VolkswagenStiftung

With the Freigeist Fellowships, the VolkswagenStiftung supports exceptional research personalities, who move between disciplinary fields and pursue risk-taking scholarship.