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Mothering research centre to close

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Gordon, Andrea
Publication Date: 
5 Mar 2010

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Mothers in academia, running businesses or at home with children are
joining forces to try and save a Toronto research organization that has
been a voice for motherhood over the past decade.

The Association for Research on Mothering, launched 12 years ago
by York University professor Andrea O'Reilly, announced Tuesday it will
close its doors on May 1 due to lack of funding.

The news means regular conferences planned for New York and
Toronto are cancelled, its renowned academic journal exploring
motherhood has been suspended and the future of Demeter Press, which
has published 10 books on maternal issues, is in jeopardy.

"I am devastated," said Fiona Green, a mother and chair of women
and gender studies at the University of Winnipeg. She said her school
is among many across Canada and abroad that use ARM journals as
critical teaching tools across many disciplines.

"Motherhood is such invisible work and ARM made it visible."

Mothers and fellow researchers in 15 countries including Nepal,
Australia and Brazil, have also expressed anger, tears and shock.

"With York's refusal to provide some funding or to cover some of
ARM's operational costs and its recent decision to freeze our accounts
and suspend its research activities, I see no other choice but to
close," O'Reilly said in a letter sent to members earlier this week.


O'Reilly, who also teaches women's studies at York, has been
flooded with hundreds of emails, offers of help and proposals for how
to keep her organization going from across Canada.

The organization, which is not one of York's designated research
units, has been given office space by the university, but no operating
funding. ARM relies on grants from Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council along with fees from its nearly 550 members and sales
of its publications.

Over 12 years, its debt has grown to about $200,000, but
O'Reilly said that has turned around in the past five years, with ARM
has making a small profit or breaking even.

She said she has been requesting annual funding of $20,000 from
York -- the equivalent of what it would cost to hire one graduate
assistant -- with no success.

York has no plans to provide funding, spokesperson Keith Marnoch said yesterday.

He acknowledged the groundbreaking work achieved by the
association but said it is an "arms-length relationship" and there have
been "concerns related to financial management and accountability."

"We have not been able to come to an agreement that is acceptable to both parties."

- reprinted from the Toronto Star

Entered Date: 
10 Mar 2010
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