Reproduction and Resistance: Making Babies in the 21st Century
King’s College London Reading Group, November 2017 – June 2018
Women’s reproductive bodies have been at the frontline of various bio/necropolitical projects of liberal modernity, including capitalist industrialisation, colonial settlement, sustainable development and women’s emancipation. Silvia Federici (2012) reminded us, that reproduction- because of its ‘dual characteristic’ – is not only part of the problem, but it is also part of the solution. As much as it reproduces hegemonic madness and oppression (labour power, settlers, patriarchs, racism, etc.), it also produces autonomous human subjects, who are capable of creating change, resistance and struggle. In our interdisciplinary reading group, we focus on questions related to the political, ethical, social and economic dimensions of reproduction. We reflect on what it means to reproduce in the age of persistent racist and sexist attitudes, of climate change sceptics and of renewed tendency of controlling the population.
To trigger our intuitions and get the discussions started, we will collectively read and discuss works on the “multiple” role of biological and social reproduction and we will imagine and practice new, more emancipatory societal models for the 21st century.
This reading group is organised by Sigrid Vertommen and Giulia Cavaliere from the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine BIoS Research Group (Biotechnology and Society Research Group) and by Anneleen Kenis from the Geography Department. Sessions will take place once per month, from November 2017 until June 2018.
We kindly invite anthropologists, geographers, demographers, philosophers, bioethicists, midwives, doctors and sociologists to join us for the following sessions on:
1. Reproduction and Labour (Sigrid Vertommen)
November and December 2017
The Wages Against Housework Collective famously stated that it is only by framing housework as labour rather than simply an act of selfless love and care, that we can de-naturalise it and go on strike. This session takes all the physical, bodily, emotional and cognitive labour that lies behind processes of biological and social reproduction as a starting point to discuss instances, moments and strategies of resistance.
- Tuesday November 28, 2017. Room S3.41 (King’s College London, Strand Campus)
- Tuesday December 12, 2017. Room S3.41 (King’s College London, Strand Campus)
2. Reproduction, Population Control and Climate Change (Giulia Cavaliere)
January and February 2018
Are we too many people or too many of a kind of people? Some look at the decreasing fertility rates of developed countries and at the comparatively higher fertility rates of developing countries with suspicion. They fear increasing poverty, immigration, scarcity of resources, worsening of climate change, and that there will be too many of “them” and too few of “us”. Donna Haraway, in her latest book Staying with the Trouble, made the utopic proposal of ‘non-coercively’ reducing the population to 2-3 billion by “making kin and not babies”.
In these two sessions, we discuss the supposed tension between a growing population and the challenges of climate change, and the anti-natalist policies advocated as a solution.
- Date: TBC
3. Reproduction and Race
March and April 2018
Throughout history the right to reproduce and to come into existence has always been stratified by different imaginaries, geographies and technologies of race. Whether it concerned the plantation owner’s economic stake in enslaved women’s fertility, the fruitful reproduction of the settler population or Western couples’ usage of cheap brown surrogates in the Global South, the racialisation of fertility is rooted in ongoing histories of capitalism and empire. During these sessions, we discuss the reproductive utopias/dystopias that emerge at the intersection of reproduction and race.
- Date: TBC
4. Reproduction, Motherhood and Feminisms (Anneleen Kenis)
May and June 2018
This session examines the complex and ambivalent relations between feminism and motherhood as they play out in theories and practices of gender and societal emancipation. While some feminists have pinpointed motherhood and reproduction as the source of patriarchal and domestic oppression, other feminists have seen maternity as a site of existential and political empowerment.
In these two sessions, we discuss different approaches to motherhood and the broader relevance of these approaches on the community.
- Date: TBC
- Date: TBC