Rowman and Littlefield International

The Phenomenology of Gravidity

Reframing Pregnancy and the Maternal through Merleau-Ponty, Levinas and Derrida

By Jane Lymer

4 Reviews

This book introduces the experience and process of gestation into the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Levinas and Derrida as a feminist project of maternal emancipation.

Hardback ISBN: 9781783486878 Release date: Oct 2016
£85.00 €119.00 $133.00
Paperback ISBN: 9781783486885 Release date: Apr 2018
£24.95 €34.95 $39.95
Ebook ISBN: 9781783486892 Release date: Oct 2016
£24.95 €34.95 $37.95

Series: Continental Philosophy in Austral-Asia

Pages: 232


The Phenomenology of Gravidity explores the particularity of women's engagements with gestation, linking the denial of certain embodied experiences of pregnancy to gender oppression. Employing the term 'gravidity' to name the metaphysical condition of having conceived, Lymer develops a theory of maternity that emphasises the interactive nature of gestation, highlighting the necessity for women to choose to become maternal as an important factor in optimal foetal development. Critically drawing on bonding and attachment theory, Lymer rethinks debates around abortion, adoption and surrogacy which ignore the ethical and practical implications of an understanding of gestation that is necessarily interactive and embodied, challenging the view of the pregnant woman as a passive container. Through an engagement with the work of Merleau-Ponty, Levinas and Derrida, The Phenomenology of Gravidityoffers an ethical feminist framework for a hospitality of gravidity which welcomes the place of the pregnant mother in all her guises, while highlighting the medical, legal and ethical consequences of failing in this welcome.

Part One: Feminism and the Maternal/ 1. Representing Gravidity/ 2. Maternal Hospitality, Ethics and Ontology/ Part Two: The Ontology of Gravidity/ 3. Gestational Accouplement/ 4. Alterity and Maternal Flesh / Part Three: Gestational Hospitality/ 5. Medical Hospitality/ 6. Gestational Identity and a Feminist Manifesto/ Part Four: The Phenomenology of Gravidity/ 7. The Politics of Gravidity- Bonding and Attachment/ 8. Rethinking the Gestational Relation / References / Notes / Index

Jane Lymer is a research fellow in Philosophy at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

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4 Reviews

'a clear, well-written, comprehensible account of the phenomenology of pregnancy, breaking new ground and leading into innovative practical directions especially regarding adoption and surrogacy'

Dr. Denise Russell, Honorary Research Fellow in Philosophy, University of Wollongong

'Lymer’s strikingly perceptive book dismantles images of the pregnant mother as a passive container providing hospitality to a foetus, and reveals gravidity—the actual experience of bearing a child—as a complex, bodily, affective, interactive becoming of mother and child together. An highly original contribution to feminist, phenomenological discussions of pregnancy (Diprose, Guenther, LaChance Adams), with important implications for medicine, law and policy'.

David Morris, Chair & Professor of Philosophy, Concordia University

After conception, a woman is in the state of gravidity; this exciting and significant book explores that embodied and affective experience. Lymer theorises a multiplicity of gestational experiences, and explains how their denial is critical in women’s oppression. It challenges tropes of hospitality and maternity, develops the woman-foetal relation as a prototype of being, and investigates the ethics of gravidity.

Marguerite La Caze, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Queensland.

"Lymer brings the work of Derrida, Merleau-Ponty and Levinas to bear on the question of the relationship between the gestational human body and the foetus. In doing so, she provides novel insights into the ethics of gestation and pregnancy, and throws significant light on the position of the maternal body in law, philosophy and medicine."

Catherine Mills, Associate Professor, School of Philosophical, Historical & International Studies, Monash University

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