My dissertation, “Fierce Mamas: New Maternalism, Social Surveillance, and the Politics of Solidarity,” explores how ‘fierce’ mothering — a gendered role that is elaborated by women through what I call ‘motherhood subjectivities’— reinforces discourses of exclusion by championing particular identities connected to larger socio-political and economic conditions. Through these subjectivities we can see how motherhood as an “established” role both enables women as actors and speakers but also constrains the limits of their action and speech. Focusing on a set of publicly articulated motherhood subjectivities, I attend to the ways that differences and identities are negotiated between women with material impacts on women’s living conditions. 


Fierce Mama’s turns to ‘infrastructure’ as a way to identify how different mothering frameworks conflate women’s empowerment with gendered ideas of care that divide women along the axes of race, religion, class, and nationality. By turning to infrastructure as a concept for rethinking the utility of the role of ‘mother’ in society and its role in establishing ‘motherhood subjectivities,’ I posit that ‘fierce mothering’ relies on maternalism which does not empower women but acts as a primary mechanism for reconstituting ‘traditional’ patriarchal values that negatively impact all women.


This project is organized around three main components:  the first component of the study is a theoretical intervention into the growing field of motherhood studies. Here I use feminist informatics, cultural, and black feminist / intersectional theory to develop a cultural-technological framework for grounding the analyses in the two subsequent components of my project. The second component of the study uses cultural and rhetorical criticism to perform a critical textual analysis of a set of blog texts and videos produced by women articulating motherhood subjectivities online. In the final component, I turn to the mediated representations of motherhood, to ask how popular culture reinforces the established norms of motherhood subjectivities. 



Motherhood Discourses

Right Wing Extremism

Social Media & Publics

2014 - Current

Department of Communication

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

MA-PhD Program (M.A. awarded 2015)

2010 - 2012

Department of Women's Studies

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

B.A. w/ Highest Honors & Highest Distinction

Gender & Intersectional Feminist Theory

2008 - 2010

Arts, Sciences, & University Transfer

Durham Technical Community College

Dr. Maria Molina Fraser Award 2010 (top honors)

The University of 

North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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