Working and Mothering in Asia: Images, Ideologies and Identities

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Edited by Brenda S.A. Yeoh and Theresa W. Devasahayam

Many women in Asia engage in full-time work and continue to shoulder home and familial responsibilities in accordance to social and cultural norms. As larger structural, economic, historical and social/cultural forces impinge upon the way women negotiate roles as mother and worker in everyday life, the definition of "motherhood" in Asia, as in other parts of the world, is highly nuanced and variegated. The model of the male as breadwinner, a feature of middle and upper class households, has undergone tremendous change in recent time. Increasingly, women (particularly those who are better-educated) have entered the job market owing to rising costs of living and a desire to work.

This book examines how Asian women negotiate, contest and reconfigure motherhood in a region characterized by different cultures, societies, ethnic, religious and class groupings. Although the essays in this book are written on the basis of a variety of academic disciplines - anthropology, sociology, gender studies, demography and law - the essays reveal recurrent themes on patriarchy, labor and relationship, strategies of accommodation, conflict and emotion management, the role of fathers, socio-cultural definitions of "good mothering", and the political meanings of "maternity" and "family".

The book also provides an important counterpoint to studies based on the experience of white middle-class North Americans, the focus of much of the previous research relating to this subject.

Brenda S.A. Yeoh is Professor at the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore. She is also a Research Leader of the Asian Migration Research Cluster and Principal Investigator of the Asian MetaCentre at the University's Asia Research Institute. Her other publications include Contesting Space in Colonial Singapore.

Theresa W. Devasahayam is an Independent Scholar who works as a consultant with international development agencies. She has held research positions in the Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies at the University of Wollongong in Australia and the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore.

Publication Year: 2007
260 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-348-0, Paperback

NUS Press and NIAS Press