Activities and Interests
My most recent book, The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery: Human Reproduction in Biocapitalism (Duke University Press, 2019) investigates Atlantic slavery’s reflection in and refraction through the cultures and politics of human reproduction that characterize late 21st century capitalism. Through analysis of fiction, film, history, and theory it demonstrates that slave breeding, as practiced for nearly four hundred years, has an epistemic afterlife that is visible in contemporary biocapitalism--a form of capitalism that relies on the racialization and commodification of the human reproductive body, its processes and products. The book argues that slavery lives on through a racial and economic calculus, or slave episteme, and that black feminism produced in the 1970s, 80s and 90s constitutes a specifically black feminist philosophy of history that reveals reproductive slavery's afterlife.
The Afterlife of Reproductive Slaveryis a companion to Wayward Reproductions: Genealogies of Race and Nation in Transatlantic Modern Thought (Duke UP, 2004), which treats intersecting ideas about human reproduction, race, and racial nationalism expressed in major nineteenth and early twentieth century thought-systems such as first wave feminism, classical Marxism, Freudian psychoanalysis, Darwinian evolutionary theory, and various forms of anti-racism and anti-imperialism. Currently I am working to complete the trilogy with a book on dystopic representations of reproductive power (and mayhem!) in contemporary literature and film. Here I am concerned with the forms of historical consciousness of extractive violence that dystopic representations afford.
Other projects include Next to the Color Line: Gender, Sexuality and W. E. B. Du Bois (Minnesota, 2007) an edited collection of feminist and queer studies contributions to scholarship on Du Bois, and The Modern Girl Around the World: Consumption, Modernity and Globalization (Duke UP, 2008) a co-authored study of the forms of modern femininity that emerged around the globe in the first half of the twentieth century.
I teach feminist theory, Black studies, Marxist theory, modern and contemporary transatlantic literature and culture, and various courses on reproductive cultures and politics--past and present. My courses combine literary and cultural studies approaches with deep philosophical and theoretical engagement, and emphasize close reading and attention to relationships among historical context, aesthetic production, and politics.