Breastfeeding: power, ethics, poetics
"In this dissertation I aim to put women back into breastfeeding through the development of an ethics and poetics drawn from Levinas, Irigaray and the later work of Foucault. In contrast with currently dominant discourses, I explore breastfeeding not from the infant's perspective but rather as an ongoing activity of self-creation for breastfeeding women. I argue that properly understanding and supporting breastfeeding means taking the perspective of the breastfeeding mother seriously, recognizing that she is not merely a means for the development of the infant's subjectivity but is in fact an ethical subject in her own right. This, however, does not mean disregarding the wellbeing of the infant, as the experience of the breastfeeding mother is fundamentally relational and it involves tremendous responsibility for the care of a vulnerable other. An ethics of breastfeeding needs to be developed that does not dictate women's breastfeeding practices under the guise of following what is ""natural"", but instead recognizes that these practices constitute an ethical project requiring intelligence, creativity, and a relationship of care and responsiveness to the other. Doing so means understanding ethics as a form of poiesis: living life as an artistic creation. An ethico-poetics of breastfeeding challenges prescriptive morality, public health guidelines, and clinical advice. Understanding breastfeeding as an ethico-poetic project involves recognizing that the self is never fixed or complete but is instead an ongoing creative project continually changing in response to alterity."