Contextual Mothering

18th May 2022, 4 – 7pm

Cardiff Campus, University of South Wales, Adam St, Cardiff, CF24 2FN
Attendance is free but booking is essential.  Please visit Eventbrite to book your place.

Watch on Facebook Live.

The Contextual Mothering symposium brings together practitioners and researchers from across the fields of health, social care, arts, performance studies, and maternal studies and includes a performance by acclaimed Welsh poet Rufus Mufasa and a keynote presentation by Dr Rachael Owens. 

This symposium takes as its starting point, the proposition that mothering never exists in isolation and that it must be examined in relation to the contexts in which it takes place.  Further, we can learn much about the conditions in which we mother by listening to stories crafted by artists in relation to their maternal experiences. The social, financial, political, and material surroundings in which we find ourselves will always enable or prevent us mothering to the best of our ability, and yet a deficit model has placed care solely as the responsibility of the mother – we offer Contextual Mothering as an alternative approach for looking at care as a social and relational responsibility and for enabling us to hear the voices of those who mother through the performances, stories, and artworks that they share.

Contextual Mothering takes place as part of the Performance and the Maternal project and is made possible by the generous funding of the AHRC. It is convened by Dr Lena Šimić (Edge Hill University), Dr Leah Salter (Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board), and Prof Emily Underwood-Lee (University of South Wales).  It forms part of the Storytelling for Health series of events and conferences, and George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling research events programme.

4:00Welcome Prof Martin Stegall, Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Student Experience 
4.10Welcome, Sally Lewis, Arts and Health lead and Arts Council Portfolio Manager
4:20Launch of the Performance and the Maternal findings, Dr Lena Šimić and Prof Emily Underwood-Lee, Performance and the Maternal
4:35Performance, Rufus Mufasa
5:05‘Shifting the ‘blame’ – the context of discrimination in the lives of young mothers’, Dr Rachael Owens, Durham University
5:45Discussion chaired by Dr Leah Salter, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, and Rebecca Haycock, University of South Wales.

Rufus Mufasa

Literary activist Rufus Mufasa is Pioneering Participatory Practitioner, Lyricist-Poet-Rapper-Mother, International Literary Activist, Community Intergenerational Specialist, Hip Hop Educator, specialising in alternative education. Rufus is a Hay Writer at Work, supports several intergenerational projects, mentors men at Parc Prison and is planning her fourth visit to Finland, where she recently headlined the Helsinki Literature Festival. As well as being the first Welsh artist to perform at Ruisrock festival, she mentors Finnish beat poets, and now writes trilingually as a result. Among her many engagements she has been poet in residence at BASW (2020), People Speak Up Poet on Prescription (2021), Literature Wales & Royal College of Psychiatry Recipient (2021). Her poetry collection Flashbacks and Flowers (2021) has received wide critical acclaim.

“Sound the trumpets loud & proud. These laceratingly true poems have arrived, and with it a fine poet for these testing times, who’s penmanship sings & “bends space & time”.” Jon Gower

Rachael Owens

Dr Rachael Owens has worked in social care for over twenty years, being particularly drawn to creative, voluntary and participatory approaches.  She has worked in mental health, disability and family support and, since qualifying as a social worker, has specialised in working with adolescents. She has established and delivered a service for young people who go ‘missing’; and is currently the Social Work Practice Advisor for the Contextual Safeguarding Programme at Durham University, where she is involved in applied research with social workers committed to improving responses to young people affected by extra-familial harm.

Rachael’s work contributes to a large body of work which critiques a simple correlation between youth parenting and poor outcomes and turning the focus on the need for structural and systemic change (Duncan, 2007; Arai, 2009).  Her interest in altering the hostile environment experienced by young parents has led her to reflect on inter-disciplinary methods of communication and dissemination of research findings. Her analytical methods draw on the Listening Guide (Gilligan, 2015) to create ‘poems’ or abstractions from interview and focus group data.  She is interested in the potential of these poems and their power to communicate in a way that is challenged by traditional academic routes. Rachael has set some of these poems to music and is interested in exploring their potential for diversifying and critiquing dominant narratives about young parenting.