Maternal Gift Economy: Breaking Through -
Ongoing Salons

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Maternal Gift Economy Movement - Salon #31 - Birthing the gift economy from womb through early childhood and beyond!

April 23, 2022

Featuring Nané Jordan and Darcia Narvaez

Moderated by Letecia Layson

Nané Jordan

Presenation topic: Placental roots for nourishing a maternal gift economy of birth

“Placental roots” draws from my birth-work and birth-thinking, as nourished in practices of mother-centred birth alongside the gifting wisdom of placentas. In this, I offer birth-giving or birth-gifting through placental roots as an originary understanding of the gift economy. Through life-giving roots of the placenta, which resembles a sacred tree of life, mothers gift life from their wombs to the babies they gestate, birth, and care for from infancy onwards. From this primal gifting paradigm, I propose that we re-centre and liberate the gifting powers of mother-centred birth for more cooperative, harmonious, joyful and gift-based lives on Mother Earth. A maternal gift economy of birth reclaims the powerful, experiential, maternal wisdom tradition of birth towards new philosophies of birth and life for human thriving.

Mother-centred birth contrasts with, and offers healing from, the paternalistic medicalization of birth that continues to disempower and traumatize so many mothers and those being born. Medicalization is a hidden tentacle of the patriarchal market economy that acts to subjugate and appropriate the primacy of mothers’ life-giving powers. A maternal gift economy of birth holds mothers and babies as sacred, and liberates the fierce, overwhelming, ecstatic yet tender sensual qualities (as in of the senses) of birth-gifting. Mothers recuperate positive embodied experiences of self-empowerment, relief, joy, and even pleasure in giving birth by accessing the physiologic, love-centred, love-promoting resources of their own bodies, while babies then receive their mothers’ embodied love and bonding. The birth process is restored to mothers and babies themselves within protective, attuned, and caring communities of others.

Nané Jordan, PhD, is a birthkeeper, mother, scholar, artist, and community worker, with a working background in pre-regulation Canadian midwifery. She was a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Paris 8 and completed her doctorate in Education and an MA in Women’s Spirituality. Nané cultivates matrifeminist (mother-centred) scholarship and art-making within gift-centred communities of Mother Earth-connecting consciousness. Her work explores mothering, midwifery, birth-giving, placentas and the gift economy, women’s spirituality, feminist arts, and Goddess studies, and includes editing the anthologies, “Placenta Wit: Mother Stories, Rituals, and Research,” and, “Pagan, Goddess, Mother” (both Demeter Press). Nané lives in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and young adult daughters.

Darcia Narvaez

Presentation topic: Companionship Care through the Evolved Nest Shape Children’s Humanity

Our very first relationship is with mother. Mother offers the physiological and communicative nurturing that initiates a child’s entry into the community (Vaughan 2015). Mother’s steadiness and tenderness build the necessary psychosocial neurobiological features that will allow the child to thrive within the community as a growing member. But mother’s devotion to her child depends on felt community support and, traditionally, the community participates in the raising of the child. The good enough community sets up the practices and policies that make good enough caregiving possible. They provide the evolved nest and grow a cooperative, prosocial, healthy member of the community.

Darcia Narvaez is Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, Fellow of the American Psychological Association and American Educational Research Association. She employs a lifespan, interdisciplinary approach to studying evolved morality, child development and flourishing. She blogs for Psychology Today (“Moral Landscapes”) and hosts the webpage

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