Iman Mersal is an Egyptian poet. Since the 1990s, she has authored five books of poetry in Arabic: Characterizations (1990), A Dark Alley Suitable for Dance Lessons (1995), Walking As Long As Possible (1997), Alternative Geography (2006), and Until I Give Up the Idea of Home (2013). She was an editor for the cultural and literary reviews Bint al-Ard and Adab wa Naqd in Egypt for several years, and an EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin, Germany (2012-13). Selected poems from Mersal’s oeuvre have been translated into numerous languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, and Hindi. Mersal is currently an associate professor of Arabic literature at the University of Alberta.

What is selected, documented, and exhibited when motherhood becomes the subject of photography? Is there a preconceived set of ideal images that manufacture “the mother”? What must be cropped out of the frame in order for this perfect snapshot to conform to our image of ideal motherhood? Do we omit photographs from the family album that might taint the idyllic notion of motherhood? To what extent can a moment, fixed in the image, homogenize our understanding of maternity? Can other images make us doubt this understanding?

This talk is based on a book in progress about motherhood, a chapter of which was published as “On Motherhood and Violence” in the journal Makhzin (Issue 2, 2015)