Article at The New Socialist

“Labour does you”: Might thinking through pregnancy as work help us radicalise the politics of care?

I’ve never known anyone to disagree with the old saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Yet this general approval of the distributed, collaborative character of the work of parenting does not frequently carry over—for some reason—to the question of making a baby. In my forthcoming book Full Surrogacy Now, I look at the gestational surrogacy industry politically and think speculatively about how to abolish actually-existing pregnancy (both waged and unwaged) as a form of capitalist work. I defend the utopian position that infants don’t belong to anybody but, rather, belong to everybody: they will belong only to themselves, in the phrase of the Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers. Nothing new, then: feminists and queers have mounted uncompromising assaults on the institution of the family for well over a century. However, wherever I’ve presented it, I’ve noticed that this call for family abolition, which I root in the Black-lesbian Marxist-feminist critique of kinship and the gender binary, appears rather contentious. It seems my proposition that the complicatedness of pregnancy itself might be a useful heuristic for complicating the politics of ‘care’ (and replacing kinship with comradeliness is, for some, a tough one to swallow. Why is this? Why, in other words, is a blog-post entitled ‘Gestators of all Genders, Unite!’ or the statement ‘The gender of gestating is ambiguous’ still guaranteed to scandalise not only Angela Nagle, but most cisgender feminists? These are some of the questions I want to persuade you it is important for anti-capitalists to pose.

Read the rest of this piece at The New Socialist, where it was commissioned by the most excellent Josie Moore (@ofthesparrows), who happens to be the author of this piece I found very rewarding, on journalist Andrew O’Hagan’s appalling book-length coverage for the LRB of the mass murder that was Grenfell Tower.

The editors at The New Socialist even generously included me in the Editors’ Selection for 2018. I’m in illustrious and radical company there, so check it out.

Footprinting the Tentacular Womb

Here is the recording of my presentation at the AAG Annual Meeting in New Orleans (April 11th, 2018): Footprinting the Tentacular Womb. This talk was part of the excellent full-day stream “From the Anthropocene to Postgenomics: New Configurations of Body-World“. I’m hoping I manage to make it more or less comprehensible (at least, for people who have some familiarity with the scholarship of Michelle Murphy and Donna Haraway) – although, I now realise, listening back, it ended up very dense. I’m still learning how to give presentations effectively and not cram too much in, but I’m happy that I got so many laughs.

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How Will Surrogates Struggle? (at The Occupied Times)

How Will Surrogates Struggle? (at The Occupied Times)

Earlier this year The Occupied Times (which is consistently excellent) published a second – different – piece I wrote on gestational workplaces. Flagging this here so you can check it out. It’s called: How Will Surrogates Struggle?

Excerpt:

Surrogate struggle by no means demands a technophobic attitude against assisted reproductive technologies, which should surely rather be reimagined – made to realise collective needs and desires. Because, actually, those who work as surrogates are the technology profitably controlled by others. They embody not only the form-giving fire but the partially conscious primary components. And the woman who stood up to her boss, with whom this article began, points the way to a revolution that begins simply with naming the labour of surrogacy as labour; naming the not-fully-conscious, not-fully-human, body, in which the commissioned baby resides, as synonymous with the labourer herself. We might imagine this struggle as one aiming to overthrow all conditions of life that stratify and impede the flourishing and re-growing of already-existing humans. Starting, certainly, with global markets in reproductive tourism as they currently exist, intensifying patterns of neocolonial inequality. But doubtless also including the nuclear family, based, as it is, on genetic heredity, inheritance, and oppressive divisions of work that prop up the tangled relations of nation, gender and race. Surrogacy, in short, has the potential to make palpable to us how co-produced, worldly and interdependent our bodies are. In the years to come, a form of radical cyborg militancy is to be expected in the gestational workplaces of the world.