Enira Arvanda

Breastfeeding mothers in public space: Interiority and spatial tactics

PhD candidate

  • Enira Arvanda

Public space is a gendered space. It is socially and culturally constructed and has a certain set of rules to define how it is used (Rendell et al., 2000). The social and cultural barrier of performing certain activities in public is apparent for nursing bodies. Since the act of public breastfeeding is perceived as queer, hence, the activity tends to be marginalized and there are attempts to ‘remove’ it from the public gaze. To cope with the condition, breastfeeding mothers have to find tactics to perform the activity comfortably and safely.

When nursing has to be done in public space, it is preceded by detailed readings of space to determine possibilities for the activity. Afterward, mothers are intentionally creating boundaries, using their body potentials or supporting gears. They also look for objects or spatial elements around them that can afford their requirements for privacy and intimacy. Thus, we might say that nursing in public is spatially calculated. Since interiority is very much affected by psychological aspects, hence mothers might respond differently to their surroundings, and perform breastfeeding according to how they perceived the situation.