Dr. Pedrucci received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology of the Ancient World (2010) and holds Masters degrees in Classics and in Fine Arts. Her most recent international and national postdoctoral experiences include: the Raffaele Pettazzoni postdoctoral fellowship, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome and the Swiss postdoctoral fellowship, Université de Fribourg, Institut des Sciences de l’Antiquité. Her main research interests are: Greek and Roman Mythology and Archaeology, Rituals, Cultural Anthropology, Gender Studies.
Mothering and (Wet)Nursing: A Metadisciplinary Study on Parenting Strategies in the Greek and Roman Worlds
The main goal of Dr. Pedrucci's project at the Max-Weber-Kolleg is to analyse the role and the social figure of the nurse and wet-nurse in the Greek and Roman worlds (from the eighth century BCE to the fifth century CE) in order to outline parenting care strategies in a context in which the mother was not the only – or not the main – caregiver of the child. I will also take into account other mother-like figures, that is, persons who engaged in maternal practice, who played a mothering role in the raising of children without technically being their mothers (e.g., aunts, elder sisters, grandmothers, as well as other relatives and people close to the household).
Generally speaking, ancient sources suggest, at least in wealthy families, an alloparental care strategy: mothers fostered the mental capacities of their children, their growth, and shaped their social acceptability (distal strategy. She also puts under this category grandmothers and aunts, and even the majority of goddesses); while female attendants (nurses and other female servants) were responsible for the physical care of the infants (proximal strategy). Both were engaged in preserving the life of the infants.
In this way, the work of the mother was made lighter, but, as the same time, a complex and ambivalent network of familial or quasi-familial relationships and of emotions was built around her.
By placing a particular emphasis on the religious aspects of such mothering practices, the project at the Max-Weber-Kolleg aims at reconstructing the embodied ritual experiences of women in their children care-taking functions, the emotional involvement in performing them and between the people involved, by considering both archaeological and literary sources.
Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien Universität Erfurt Postfach 90 02 21 99105 Erfurt