AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2019... 2019 Abject Relations : Postmaternal Australia in The Babadook
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This article contextualises Jennifer Kent's 2014 film The Babadook (2014) within postmaternal Australia. Theorised by Julie Stephens, the postmaternal refers to a paradigm characterised by the disqualification of maternal forms of care as indices of citizenship. Stephens argues that the postmaternal has underpinned significant personal suffering in the lives of women in the thirty years since its ascendancy to ideological predominance. Kent represents the distress of her maternal protagonist, Amelia, according to the conventions of horror and the Gothic, as she mothers in a situation of extraordinary personal trauma. This paper focuses, however, upon the political dimension of Kent's representation of the maternal, and applies D. W. Winnicott's object relations theory to Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection to articulate the interplay of psychic and structural factors underpinning Kent's representation of the mother. A central contention is, accordingly, that Kent depicts a maternality subject not solely to personal trauma, but also to a societal abjection of the maternal and related forms of care upholding postmaternal capitalism. This is an abjection that Amelia depressively internalises, turning from mother to monster. Also considered is the signifying potential of haunting and monstrosity, where maternal concerns are repressed and abjected from the public sphere. Demonstrated are the political underpinnings of the maternal Gothic, and the possibility of redemption through the embrace of human interdependence.'  (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Hecate vol. 45 no. 1/2 Carole Ferrier (editor), Jena Woodhouse (editor), 2019 21220789 2019 periodical issue

    'The house husbands or SNAGS, a new phenomenon, did not see this as a permanent role and most, sooner or later, tired of a lack of life in the public sphere; despite a brief fashion for the male population's public job being private Home Duties, many men longed to re-enter the usual world; one in which important or sometimes stimulating things went on. The Australian Institute of Family Studies (in the government Department of Social Services) has regularly researched attitudes to gender roles within households in relation to things such as divided domestic work and has found, in its surveys, considerable support for shared housework. Other factors are in play in many countries, especially the incidence of child marriage (650 million girls) and of Female Genital Mutilation (imposed upon 200 million girls), the latter increasingly administered by actual health services rather than the stereotypical old, female relative with a razor blade and a sewing basket. The witches and midwives of centuries ago were one thing (documented, for example, in Barbara Ehrenreich's 1973 Witches, Midwives and Nurses) but more recently, in COVID-19 times, women are much in demand in their jobs/professions as health workers, and have been given enthusiastic encouragement to lead their working life in close contact with often viralent infections, as "essential workers"-a category that seems to have benefits for the bourgeoisie who belong to it, but not many for nurses working long and demanding shifts, wearing often-uncomfortable Personal Protective Equipment, in hospitals and infection-testing clinics.' (Carole Ferrier, Editorial introduction) 

    pg. 23-42, 311.
Last amended 4 Mar 2021 14:51:17
23-42, 311. Abject Relations : Postmaternal Australia in The Babadooksmall AustLit logo Hecate
Informit * Subscription service. Check your library.
    Powered by Trove