Advancing excellence through faculty diversity

Austin Colby Guy Lee


B.A., Black Studies, Amherst College; M.A., Sociology, University of Pennsylvania; Ph.D., Sociology, University of Pennsylvania


Feeling Communal Motherhood: Black Women's Navigations of Class, Gender, and Parental Status

Thesis Advisor:

Camille Charles, Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania

Research Topic:

This research uncovers dynamics often underrepresented in existing scholarship by examining the complex relationship between Black womanhood and communal mothering practices. Although current research about Black motherhood often attends to the severing of Black children from their mothers through slavery and its afterlives, as well as the mothering that transcends biological boundaries, which is commonplace in Black communities, little scholarship empirically considers these factors alongside Black women's experiences of gender inequality in the family. This study draws on semi-structured interviews with 80 Black mothers and childless women to ask how parental status and social class shape their experiences with communal motherhood. I employ affect theory to reveal the complex emotions and pressures accompanying communal mothering practices. By analyzing themes related to motherhood, caretaking, and class, the research contributes to a broader understanding of race, gender, emotion, and family.


Richard Pitt, Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego

Current Position:

Postdoctoral Fellow, Society of Fellows, Department of Sociology, Boston University