Mobilizing around Motherhood: Successes and Challenges for Women Protesting against Toxic Waste in Campania, Italy

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Neoliberal management of waste in Campania has resulted in new spaces for women's participation in civil society as well as new instances of gendered oppression. Women have been making a substantive contribution to environmental justice movements in Campania. Women's groups are mobilizing through various means, discursive and material. These include not only silent protests and pickets but also public demonstrations and teaching protests by which communities demonstrate their ability to manage their waste production in an environmentally friendly fashion. At a discursive level, women's groups have challenged governing bodies for the damage that their waste politics have brought upon their families, particularly children, and communities at large by prioritizing the industrial interests over local development and health. Volcano Mothers and Postcard Mothers posit motherhood as their members' main social identifier and catalyst for mobilization. However, the way the two groups frame the traditional notion of motherhood is rather different and so is the way they perceive governing bodies. The Postcard Mothers' narratives of motherhood are ones of loss and grief, and their pain denounces the unaccountability of criminal organizations and failure of state power in their communities. Volcano Mothers define motherhood as a guarantee of their commitment to social justice and the interests of their communities, a commitment which only a woman, only a mother, can have.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-175
Number of pages18
JournalCapitalism, Nature, Socialism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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