"Surviving Hurricane Maria: Mothers on the March"; Prof. Sara Potter
As their routines disappeared and their domestic responsibilities doubled, Puerto Rican mothers Noelia and Mariel, found themselves absorbing the impact of the disaster for their families. While Puerto Rican mothers have historically carried the burden of decades of structural and economic decline, overnight the stakes had changed, and their mothering practices needed to yet again, adjust "on the march." When taken together, the paradigm of intensive mothering and the gendered stratification of disaster relief and recovery efforts produced conditions that not only push them back into the private but also double their mothering obligations, and endowed them with guilt and burdens of the selfless. At the same time, mothers must creatively approach mothering in these conditions, building new neighborhood relationships and rethinking the old familiar routines. Put differently, these mothers were not immune to cultural and societal norms that are not only engendered by care work but place the responsibility and expectation for resilience on women. As I will show in this presentation through two different mothering narratives, mothers reconciled the material, psychological, and discursive tensions by shifting not just the way they mothered, finding empowering moments in the disempowering conditions, but also how they came to feel about mothering and themselves in light of the narratives around them.