Activities and Interests
My current project, The Afterlife of Slavery: Human Reproduction in Biocapitalism, explores contemporary cultures and politics of human reproduction in the context of late capitalism and neoliberalism. It treats texts produced in the last four decades that reflect and refract the social and economic conflicts and contradictions that have been stirred up by the proliferation of new biotechnologies, the mapping of the human genome, and the creation of global markets in human body parts, genetic materials, biological information, and, most importantly, human reproductive labor power. My focus is on how such texts might be mined to constitute a philosophy of history--a narrative that connects the long history of reproductive exploitation in the context of chattel slavery in the Americas to the forms of exploitation that characterize human reproduction in the contemporary moment. Individual chapters of the project examine the history of surrogacy and its relationship to that of slave breeding; black feminist contributions to a long black radical tradition focused on the relationship of slavery and capitalism; neo-slave narratives that imagine the experience of motherhood in bondage from the perspective of slave women; and contemporary SF that enables critical apprehension of alternatives to current configurations of biocapitalism and racial capitalism that are together rooted in chattel slavery.
The Afterlife of Slavery contributes to feminist and Marxist theory, critical race studies, and black studies. It also engages science and technology studies, SF studies, and debates about imperialism, globalization, transnational cultural studies. It is a companion to my first book, Wayward Reproductions: Genealogies of Race and Nation in Transatlantic Modern Thought (Duke, 2004), a study of the intersection of ideas about human reproduction, race, and racial nationalism as they were 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. My other books are Next to the Color Line: Gender, Sexuality and W. E. B. Du Bois (Minnesota, 2007), a collection of essays on the intersection of Du Bois studies, critical race studies, feminist and queer studies co-edited with Susan Gillman, and The Modern Girl Around the World: Consumption, Modernity and Globalization (Duke, 2008), a transnational feminist research collaboration co-authored and co-edited with Tani Barlow, Madeleine Yue Dong, Uta Poiger, Priti Ramamurthy, and Lynn Thomas. Here our focus is on unprecedented forms of racialized femininity that appeared around the globe in the early part of the twentieth century––flappers, garconnes, moga, modeng xiaojie, and neue Frauen among many others.