Voir le jour: Breastfeeding and the commons

  • Natalie Doonan McGill University
Keywords: performance and mothering, breastfeeding and public space, intimate citizenship, new maternalisms, mothering and public space, affective labour, common good


Watch Voir le jour from Natalie Doonan on Vimeo


This research-creation project focuses on breastfeeding in public as an act of claiming space for the common good. Its audio-visual component, “Voir le jour,” is part of a larger work that includes community screenings and locative storytelling. “Voir le jour” consists of recordings of nursing mothers, breastfeeding experts, and activists sharing their stories about the joys and challenges of breastfeeding outside the home. These stories are accompanied by a slideshow of photographs depicting moms nursing in public spaces. “Voir le jour” renders the labour of mothering audible and visible in public spaces, including online. It was created in part for use by the breastfeeding support organization Nourri-Source Montréal. “Voir le jour” contests the notion that “public” and “private” are distinct spatial categories. The fact that breastfeeding is commonly relegated to the sphere of domestic activity is a testament to the tenacious grip of patriarchy in everyday life, and leads to isolation for many new mothers. The discomfort that may be felt in response to seeing intimate experiences between mothers and babies is part of transforming the myth that private and public activities and spaces are discrete and separate spheres.

How to Cite
Doonan, N. (2018). Voir le jour: Breastfeeding and the commons. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur L’alimentation, 5(1), 156-162. https://doi.org/10.15353/cfs-rcea.v5i1.227