Mothers Under Fire: Examining Criminalized Mothering and Criminal Mothers

Member Name | RCSIA at Ryerson University

Funder: SSHRC Standard Institutional Grant (SIG)
Principal Investigators: May Friedman & Emily van der Meulen


While there has been a recent growth in research on criminality and gender as well as in the field of motherhood studies, few research projects have looked at the specific implications for mothers who engage in criminalized activities or are criminalized through their social locations. For example, mothers experiencing incarceration, including those jailed with/as a result of significant mental health diagnoses, mothers who consume and/or traffic narcotics, mothers with precarious immigration status at risk of deportation, and mothers who work in the sex industry have thus far been largely neglected from research studies. This understudied area is especially pertinent in light of significant increases in the number of women being admitted to Canadian federal prisons, 70% of whom are mothers and nearly two thirds are single mothers, suggesting an analysis of criminality and maternity is extremely timely.

Our collaborative undertaking has three key aims:

  1.  To identify a gendered gap in the literature and research on criminalization and mothering studies;
  2. To enhance interdisciplinary collaborations and develop the research capacity of members of the Ryerson community; and
  3. To advance new questions and directions for future research on criminalized and marginalized mothering.