Mobilizing Motherhood: The Use of Maternal Myths in Popular Development Discourse

  • Jacqueline Marie Potvin Department of Women's Studies and Feminist Research University of Western Ontario
Keywords: Development Discourse, Gender and Development, Motherhood, Altruism, Empowerment


In this paper, I examine how maternal myths are deployed in popular development literature. Using critical discourse analysis and working within a feminist postcolonial framework I analyse five texts produced by development organizations for popular consumption. I identify how maternal myths are constructed in each text and conduct a contextual analysis of four myths to identify their ideological significance within the development sector. I conclude that that in their construction of maternal myths, these texts, while intended to elicit support for gender and development interventions, reinforce exploitative gender roles and relations and limit women’s experiences of development.