Deconstructing the discourse of motherhood based on the religious-magic practice

  • Lidija Radulović Department of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
motherhood, gender, discourse, taboo, magic


To deconstruct discourses on motherhood means to answer the questions, how certain gender relationships in the given society are constructed based on the dominant discourse, in which way do they become natural relationships and become binding for the members of the community creating the ideal type of woman-wife-mother. If we accept that the dominant motherhood discourse was conceived as the social relation of power, we can also inquire as to its problematizing and transformation. In this paper, on the one hand, religious-magical - practice are analyzed, supporting the discourse of ideal motherhood, and on the other, there is the analysis of the strategies of the magic rites, which form the alternative discourses of - control in the comprehension of woman’s reproductive role in the traditional Serbian culture of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. Cultural concepts of motherhood are directed at the fact that woman is not left with much choice, namely, the alternative discourses of motherhood tell us that women ruled over illegitimate knowledge and magic, performed abortions and in that way enabled women to strike a balance between childbearing and their own wishes and interests. However, this kind of discourse is in contrast with the interests of the church and society, that is, their tendency to use women’s reproductive potential accordi- ng to the needs of the society and not the needs of women themselves. By deconstructing taboos and magic rites which are involved in creating the discourse of the good and bad mother it is indirectly pointed at the gender construction and the power relations.


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How to Cite
Radulović, Lidija. 2008. “Deconstructing the Discourse of Motherhood Based on the Religious-Magic Practice”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 3 (1), 159-76.

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