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The Politics of Reproduction

CAPPE (Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics)

16th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference

University of Brighton, UK 

‘The Politics of Reproduction’

 Dates: 15-17 September 2021

 Keynote speakers: Dr Sophie Lewis; Professor Lynne Segal

 Recent years have witnessed renewed interest in the politics of reproduction and care in a wide range of fields, in response to conflicts over reproductive rights around the world and an ever-deepening ‘crisis of care’ driven by neoliberal capitalism. 

 Globally, reproductive rights are increasingly under threat. Abortion bans have been sought and actually achieved in several countries, while reproductive healthcare is rendered increasingly difficult for many people to access. At the same time, reproductive technologies in the form of IVF, egg-freezing and surrogacy continue to develop and are marketed to consumers within multimillion-dollar industries. 

 Concurrently, in some parts of the world the dismantling and underfunding of welfare states has produced a crisis in the provision of care. The work of care increasingly rests on the shoulders of always low paid, often migrant, workers, exacerbating inequalities within global care chains. The retraction of welfare provision also intensifies demands to take on unpaid social reproductive and caring labour, a burden that disproportionately affects women. 

 This conference invites reflection on reproductive politics in the 21st century. In what ways has biological reproduction – procreation – become marshalled, restricted, enabled, or exploited under conditions of global capitalism? How should critical thought and politics respond? And in what ways has the labour of caring for people – social reproduction – been commodified and/or exploited in contemporary societies? What might be alternative ways of organising caring work? How might one theorise, furthermore, the relations between biological and social reproduction?

 These questions have become particularly urgent in the light of Covid 19, which has reignited debate about the valuation/devaluation of social reproduction and caring work; and in response to the Black Lives Matter movement’s demands for racial justice, voiced in the context of maternal healthcare provision pervaded by racial inequalities, in which disproportionate numbers of African American women die in childbirth each year.

 We welcome papers that draw on a range of critical approaches, including feminism, queer theory, critical race studies, philosophy, politics and disability studies among others. We invite proposals for 20 minute papers on topics including, but not limited to: 

·      Reproductive technologies: IVF and egg-freezing

·      Social Reproduction Theory

·      The Reproductive Justice Framework

·      Caring relationships and relational autonomy

·      Caring labour

·      Gestation as labour

·      The political economy of care

·      Family abolitionism / queering the family / kinship beyond genetics

·      Medicalisation/demedicalisation of biological reproduction

·      Reproductive control and the history of eugenics

·      The pre-pregnancy movement

·      Surrogacy (commercial or non-commercial)

·      Abortion rights, abortion provision

·      Coerced sterilisation

·      ‘Feticide’ laws

·      Reproduction/care and neoliberalism

·      Reproduction and the far right

 We currently plan to host the conference in person. Please note, however, that this might have to change. Conference fees will be £200 (Full); and £100 (Reduced/Unwaged). A limited number of bursaries are available for those without institutional support, especially those who might be joining us from ‘the Global South’.

 For any enquiries relating to the conference, please contact CAPPE Administrator, Ian Sinclair, <i.a.sinclair@brighton.ac.uk>

Please send proposals of approx. 300 words to <i.a.sinclair@brighton.ac.uk> by 9th April 2021