On Stilts or Off: Motherhood as a Model and Motivation for Activism

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Peace and Conflict Studies | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Kelly Kraemer, Peace Studies


Motherhood is often viewed as one of the most traditional institutions in our society, so how can it serve as a model for social change? In this thesis, I hope to begin answering this question by examining philosophical and theoretical frameworks of mothering activities and how they can extend beyond the home into the community and political arena, focusing in large part on Sara Ruddick’s Maternal Thinking: toward a politics of peace. I also examine the revival of peace organizing around the themes of motherhood and nurturing through such groups as Mothers Acting Up, Code Pink, and Another Mother for Peace, analyze the responses of Minnesota women peace activists to a survey I conducted to see if they are similar to the responses of a nationwide survey conducted in the 1980’s, and respond to critiques of using motherhood as a model and organizing theme for activism.