Symbolising the maternal : a genealogical study of Maltese women educators
This thesis aims to symbolise the maternal through an exploration of the associations
of women teachers with mothering practices, focusing in particular on how these
develop within a Maltese context. The main argument of the thesis is that as women's
and especially Maltese women's subjectivities are identified through their various
associations with the maternal, it is difficult, as it is ineffective to completely
disregard such discourses in attempting to symbolise women. The research explores
the ways women use their maternal positionings as women, and especially those as
teachers to go beyond limited associations of the maternal.
The theoretical framework for this study is made up of some of the most important
ideas of Luce Irigaray and Michel Foucault. Foucault's work on power and selfcreation
inspires the research but especially his method of genealogy that informs the
analysis of the associations between teaching and mothering, as we know them in the
present. The study also draws on Irigaray's critique of phallocentric social systems;
her notion of establishing relations between women and maternal genealogies and
above all her arguments for women's own symbolisation of themselves as subjects.
The thesis, however, is not entirely framed by what these theorists say. It is directed
by the conversations with eleven women teachers about mothering and teaching.
This is an original attempt to intertwine the theories of two well established authors
with the ideas and philosophies of these women teachers aiming at symbolising these
women as creators of their own know ledges as well as creators of their own selves.