Mothering a Book: Recollections of a WSU Author

WSU author Melanie-Angela Neuilly with 4-month-old daughter Grace in Nice, France, in summer 2014.

In her 2019 edited book “Mothering From the Field: The Impact of Motherhood on Site-Based Research,” WSU criminal justice associate professor Melanie-Angela Neuilly collected the experiences of academic researchers and mothers conducting their fieldwork while raising children. Neuilly’s own experience of juggling site work and motherhood in Nice, France, in 2014 is also chronicled.

Neuilly said she came to the book somewhat circuitously: In 2013, she obtained a WSU Seed Grant to conduct ethnographic field observations at a medico-legal institute in Nice. However, Neuilly was obtaining her green card then, and in the midst of a somewhat risky pregnancy. She got a no-cost extension on the grant and conducted her research in the summer of 2014, with her 3-month-old daughter and husband.

“It was a terribly difficult endeavor, probably the hardest professional experience I ever went through,” Neuilly said. “It was so hard, I felt compelled to document it in various ways. Upon my return, I wrote an essay about the experience in our professional newsletter. It caught the attention of one of my graduate school friends, who was living through similar experiences, and we got to chatting during our annual meeting. This is when we decided to write a book about it. We placed a call for contributors, and the rest is history, so to speak.”

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