Welcome to my personal website. My name is Inge van Nistelrooij. I am a care ethicist, mother, scholar, and book fan. This site offers information about the concept of liminality that is central to my work, my publications and presentations, me and my fields of interest, and about how to get in touch. Below you find posts on the books, research and news reports that I find interesting.
Over the past few years, many have asked me to clarify what I mean with self-sacrifice, as I have published about this, drawing upon my PhD study. Sometimes I feel that it is more urgent to explain what it is not and why I think it is a meaningful and relevant concept. I am afraid that those who ask a brief, clear cut answer, are let down. For my entire view everybody will need to read my book. But for those who want a first entry, I have created this page.
Unsheltered: about mothers and daughters (and mothers who are daughters) and a mother-daughter-conversation every mother and daughter dreams about, about independent, pioneering researchers and class and/or gender inequality, about neoliberalism and capitalism and destruction of the world, about human effort and failure, about finding out how ‘doing the best one can’ is always permeated by social standards which time or the next generation may reveal as false, and about feeling and being socially and materially unsheltered. I love this book.
After my previous enthusiastic thoughts on Rachel Cusk’s classic ‘A life’s work’ (2001) I was alarmed when I heard that she had received many negative responses to her book. I had considered it This is what I found: her own reaction to the responses to her honesty. I was both thrilled to read more about the book’s and the writer’s context and amazed (how naive!) at the mother-bashing. Cusk’s liberating honesty clearly does not have a place in the frameworks that dominate our culture. What a shame. And what a pressure on mothers.
My paper ‘Liberating the Pregnant Body: disempowerment and disembodiment in maternity care’ on my new research project on a care ethical view of maternity was enthusiastically responded to by the audience of the Global Carework Summit in Toronto last week. One response came from a mother present together with her baby. She responded as a carework researcher and a mother. She had never realized, and was now stunned at, how little she had thought about the pregnant body with regard to carework, even during her own recent pregnancy. Like myself she was amazed at how it is largely lacking in philosophy, sociology, and political (care) ethics.
Symbolically, for 9 months a group of committed researchers cooperated closely to write a grant proposal for a research project into ethical controversies in the mother-midwife relation during childbirth. This CARE-study (Controversies surrounding Autonomy and Responsibility: a care-Ethical study into the mother-midwife relation) is now granted, which means that a young and gifted researcher, philosopher and midwife Rodante van der Waal, is funded to perform her four year PhD study. Next to an empirical research into the advancements of respectful maternity care, the project involves a philosophical study into the ontology and history of pregnancy, childbirth and midwifery care. The project will be performed at the University of Humanistic Studies (Utrecht, The Netherlands) under the supervision of prof dr Carlo Leget. I am proud to be involved in this as co-supervisor.
So many influential traditional birth stories and myths are told depicting the mother as a container, a vessel, from which a special person was born. The emphasis in these stories lies on the latter person, and his importance can often be considered as the reason for the myth. Yet these same stories can be turned around, allowing them to become powerful stories in which women’s experiences through the ages can be expressed. Here is a link to a wonderful reversed story of the birth of the child Siddharta, who would grow up to become the Buddha, retold, this time including, not excluding, what makes up the experience of a birth-giving mother.