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Reconstructing Motherhood and Disability in the Age of Perfect Babies by [Landsman, Gail]
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Reconstructing Motherhood and Disability in the Age of Perfect Babies 1st , Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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About the Author

Gail Heidi Landsman (Ph.D., Catholic University) is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Albany, SUNY, where she teaches courses in gender, reproduction, and disability.  She is the author of numerous book chapters, articles in peer-reviewed journals, and a previous book Sovereignty and Symbol.  She is also the mother of three children, one of whom has cerebral palsy.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1025 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (18 Aug. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001OMWIKI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,644,071 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't complement this work enough! This was my first introduction to Gail Landsman's work, and I was not disappointed! I can across this book through Amazon's recommendations, and it really was instrumental in how I decided to approach my sociology dissertation. The critical engagement, the personal experience Landsman's offers, all ties in together and her work is extraordinary. I now use this book for most of my degree work and will continue to refer to her work throughout my Masters.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars bok reviw 8 Dec. 2010
By phil - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reconstructing Motherhood and Disability in the Age of "Perfect" Babies was the most interesting and captive book we have read throughout the course. Its main idea was for us to understand how society blames mothers for disabled babies, how mothers also carry the bulk of the weight when they have a disabled baby and finally for us to understand disability rights given to parents of disabled children. Chapter one had a detail explanation of these facts and facts that help us realize how we demoralize mothers with disabled children and make us realize our fault in looking at them through our peripherals and judging them.
Chapter two spoke of the pregnancy process and the discovery of expectancy of a disabled child. It focused on how the blame always goes to the mother because when you have a disabled child, it is assumed that you did something wrong either in your life or during the pregnancy. It also introduced to us the idea that this view isn't only within the family circle that finds this information of a disabled baby but society as a whole blames mothers for disabled babies. The worst part about this is that sometimes mothers do everything right but still have disabled children and at this point people say that they were "chosen" to take care of this baby. A lot of mothers claim that this is an insult because they do not feel like they deserved this burden, regardless of the fact that they still loved their child no matter the situation, they still thought of it unfair they got the child that they did.
Chapter three focuses on the diminishing motherhood that society has thrown upon mothers especially single mothers. It shows of how we look down upon women with disabled babies and how we pretty much blame them for everything that went wrong. Chapter four was the most extensive chapter in the book. It spoke of mothers who cannot take the news of a disabled child coming their way and the tough decision to keep or terminate the baby. It is hard enough to think of what you would do but to come face to face with this reality is heart breaking. It also spoke of the emplotment of children's lives which is the planning of what is going to happen to the child when it comes out. It its quality of life going to be worth it or is he or she going to suffer. The chapter was just about the choices that mothers have to make that are extremely hard for anyone to personally make.
Chapter five was about the commoditization of the child so what that means is the arranging of how the child is going to live like. I did not get much from this chapter but I understood that the comoddification of children is becoming quite popular and unhealthy among us.
Chapter six discusses the mother model and the disability rights given to these families with disable children. In a movie little man, a mother commented that the disability rights given to families are good but not enough. The book states the same by saying that the government needs to step in and help these families extensively. What is done now is throw options to these families which, without help, do not know how to deal with it and what is the best available option.
This book helps the readers better realize both the internal and external conflicts that mothers with disabled children have to go through. The best part of it was having Mrs. Gail landsman come in to speak to us on the topic. As a mother of a disabled child, I found her input very helpful and I thought that this book was very helpful in the discovery of the struggles that disabled children and their parents go through.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly changed my understanding of disability. 12 Sept. 2010
By D. Munroe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My fellow academic had this book, and I was interested in reading it due to another friend's struggle with her son's disabilities. Written by an anthropologist, the book draws from social theory, but one need not be an academic to understand the points the author makes. After the introductory chapter, which does a nice job summarizing the book's main themes, the first several chapters are accessible to anyone. I am a geographer, and noticed some disciplinary differences here and there: she refers to childhood/motherhood in different cultures in many places as a juxtaposition to make us think critically about American culture - a classic anthropological tool, which stood out a bit.

The author reflects critically and honestly on her own experiences throughout the book, and I loved her tone: here is a talented academic and a loving mother, who does not simply intellectualize her own experiences, but obviously gains mutual insight and appreciation in how her personal life pushes back against her intellectual life, and vice versa. I appreciated and admired her candor, even with herself.

She grapples with a variety of social-theoretical understandings of the production/construction of disability. I think for some it may well not be deep enough (sacrificing the broader accessibility), but for me, a novice, it was perfect. I agreed with her philosophically: disability is neither purely biological nor purely social, and indeed, the biological and the social themselves cannot be understood independently.

This book is valuable to anyone who wishes to know more about disability, coping as the parent of a disabled child, health as a nature-society interaction, and just generally about disability as a form of social alterity. All in all, just a great read. Highly recommend.
4.0 out of 5 stars Chapter Summaries 8 Dec. 2010
By ja16troo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Gail Heidi Landsman

Reconstructing Motherhood and Disability in the Age of "Perfect" Babies

Published 2009 Routledge

Chapter 1: Doing Everything Right: Choice, Control, and Mother Blame.

This chapter discusses the initial reaction of parents; more specifically mothers finding out their children will be born disabled. These disabilities can range from physical to mental or a combination of the two, and can be anything from being born prematurely to being born with a life threatening disease. It was interesting to see that all of the women blamed themselves and their past actions for the baby's disability, even though only one baby's disabilities could be connected exactly to his mother's destructive behavior. The mothers would recall back to before they even knew they were pregnant and they had gone out drinking or had a cigarette; little moments that they somehow blame for their child's disability. There were many instances in the chapter which discuss other types of mother blame such as blaming an establishment like a hospital or in one case an ambulance that took to long to pick up a mother who was having complications that lead to her child being disabled. Other times the blame was on the mom for lack of prenatal care; in any case, the blame should not have been on the mother because the majority of the disabled children became disabled without any contribution or control of the parent.

Chapter 2: Diminished Motherhood

This chapter discusses the differences in preganancy, birth, and early life of the disabled children and how that affects mothers. The term "diminished motherhood" is coined in this chapter because many mothers of disabled children live completely different lives than mothers of healthy babies. Some examples include not announcing the pregnancy of the child to extended family and friends. Another example told about a mother who felt like less of a mother because disabled children are treated as less than a human. It brings up societal and personal issues and views of disabled children and mothers of disabled children.

Chapter 3: Mothers, Doctors, and Developmental Delays: On Denial, Personhood, and the Emplotment of Children's lives.

This chapter goes into detail the diminished and changed motherhood and personhood of people born with disabilities in the US as well as other nations. Often times the personhood of a person who grew up with disabilities is diminished because they are treated different socially than other people. In the islands of Panama for example, many native Americans have inherited a dominant gene for albinism , which has forced many people to become night fisherman because they are so sensitive to light. This example shows that disabilities do not always diminish personhood, because these people's albinism is only one of their many other characteristics that makes them a unique art of society and not an outcast. This contrasts heavily with the same situations in Israel, where a study conducted showed that around of half of children born with disabilities are abandoned at the hospital, reflecting the societies differing views of disabilities. America seems to be in the middle of the spectrum leaning toward the more adaptive side; although many disabled people are viewed differently than other people they are still very well taken care of by most parents and have opportunities for society. American history has shown as well that disabled individuals can do great things and may break past the barriers that hold them back. One great example of this lies in the chapter when the author discusses how many times Doctors were wrong about the child's future, making it out to be a lot worse than what actually occurred. These stories serve as lessons of hope for other individuals raising children with disabilities.

Chapter 4: The Child as Giver: Mothers' Critique of the Commodification of Babies

The Chapter opens up with an excerpt written in the view of a disabled child, citing all of things that the child will not be able to give to the mother, such as huge strides in development or accomplishments such as first words or first steps. This can be a huge problem for mothers who expect to raise a normal baby and have misconceived notions about how the child will grow up. What the excerpt does show is that the child will give a different gift. Instead of having these huge developments that the baby will be able to give to the parents whom they will credit as their own success, the child will give a gift of teaching the parents true values such as patience, unconditional love, and appreciation for dependency and finding individuality in places where it is difficult to. This is a focus of many support groups of parents with disabled children and is subject to many examples in the chapter; stories of parents who learned the true meaning of love and life because of their disabled child. Other times, the child will be described as the parents "biggest joy and biggest sorrow". Because of the things the parents see the child go through, the parents can be extremely sorrowful and pitiful of the child. At the same time, seeing the child smile or happy during these times of extreme unhappiness shows the parent that the child can still be happy and teach the true definition of unconditional love.

Chapter 5: On Mothering, Models, and Disability Rights

This chapter discusses the personal, ethical, and controversial decisions and thoughts that mothers of disables children and the societal issues influencing their decisions. This goes into what the author defines as "model" disabled children and their parents. This brings up many ethical issues. Firstly, the author talks about how her daughters own disabilities have shaped who she is. If some outside force could help her daughter, the author doesn't know if she would change her daughter's disabilities. Similarly, there are many other issues that come up when caring for a person with disabilities. Some examples include a child who grows up to be an adult with disabilities and how that leads to diminished dignity. A model child with disabilities is pre-pubescent and far from becoming an adult, because once they do they lose innocence and look like a burden on society. The "cure debate" is also a big issue, once again addressing whether mothers would fix their children if they had the option. The author speculates herself that she believes her daughter would be a completely different person had she not been born with disabilities. The chapter also addresses the oppression and social barriers children with disabilities will experience. Many mothers openly express their concern with how their child will be treated. All of these topics address the issue of what it is to be normal and what it means to live a normal life. Although these children are not developmentally on the same level as other children their age, they live with a family that experiences the same issues as other families, they love their child just like any other family, and they live with many of the same problems that other children deal with. Just because they are different may not mean that they lose their normalcy.
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