Disobedient Daughters and Ungrievable Mothers: An Exploration of Child Neglect, Parentification, and the Death of an Estranged Parent

Pedersen, A. B. (Lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


In my paper, I drew on autophenomenography to explore my own, personal experiences with processing the death of my estranged mother, who died in April, 2019. As Kylie Agglias points out in "Missing Family: The Adult Child's Experience of Parental Neglect" (2017), there is a knowledge gap in research done on family estrangement, which tends to focus on the experiences of those who have been estranged and not on the estrangers. My paper built on the article I wrote for KKF on my experiences with having a terminally ill, estranged parent. Since my paper dealt with a somewhat unexplored topic, I felt free to challenge the genre of the conference paper (which this specific conference also encouraged). The main body of my paper consisted of fragments of writing, some in the form of poems, which varied greatly in length. The fragmentary writing was inspired by Kathleen Stewarts Ordinary Affects (2007) and Maggie Nelson's Bluets (2009), and I drew on Ann Cvetkovich's memoir Depression: A Public Feeling (2012), in which Cvetkovich explains that she was motivated by "the desire to tell a story that didn't seem to be represented" (78), and my co-supervisor Nina Lykke's 2018 article "When Death Cuts Apart: On Affective Difference, Compassionate Companionship and Lesbian Widowhood," which provided a model for autophenomenography. To accompany the individual vignettes, I had carefully chosen images – close-ups of textiles (scarves, blankets, etc.), photos of the ocean – for my PowerPoint presentation (which consisted purely of photos) that accentuated the theme of the specific piece of writing or was directly linked to the story recounted in that fragment.
20 minutes plus discussion afterwards.
Chairing of 2 panels plus a recital of my poem "Survivor of the Toxic Womb" at the reception For the publication of the special issue of KKF
on Queer Death Studies
Period5 Nov 2019
Event titleThe First International Queer Death Studies Nov 4-5, 2019<br/>Conference: "Death Matters, Queer(ing) Mourning, Attuning to Transitions"
Event typeConference
LocationKarlstad, Sweden
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Queer Death Studies
  • Queer Studies
  • Queer Theory
  • Gender Studies
  • Death Studies
  • Parental Neglect
  • Parentification
  • Motherhood
  • Toxic Relationships
  • Estrangement
  • Kylie Agglias
  • Autophenomenography
  • Writing
  • Poetry
  • Fragmentary Writing
  • Kathleen Stewart
  • Nina Lykke
  • Maggie Nelson
  • Ann Cvetkovich
  • Memoir
  • Textile
  • Mother and Daughter Relationships
  • Family Estrangement
  • Mourning
  • Grief
  • Death
  • Terminal Illness
  • Cancer
  • Grievability
  • Ungrievable Lives