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 cultural production of the last four decades that reflects and refracts 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. It’s focus is on how such cultural productions might be mined to constitute a philosophy of history capable of connecting the long history of reproductive exploitation in the context of chattel slavery in the Americas to the forms of contemporary exploitation that characterize human reproduction in biocapitalism. Individual chapters of the project examine black feminist contributions to a longer black radical tradition focused on gendered enslavement, so-called neo-slave narratives that have sought to imagine the experience of motherhood in bondage, and contemporary SF fiction and film that enable readers to critically apprehend alternatives to current configurations of biocapitalism and racial capitalism that are together rooted in chattel slavery.
The Afterlife of Slavery contributes to African American studies, feminist and Marxist theory, and Critical Race Theory; it also engages science studies, SF studies, and current debates about imperialism and globalization. I regard it as a companion to my first book, Wayward Reproductions: Genealogies of Race and Nation in Transatlantic Modern Thought (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. Other recent books include, Next to the Color Line: Gender, Sexuality and W. E. B. Du Bois (2007), a collection of essays on the intersection of Du Bois studies, critical race studies, feminist and queer studies that I co-edited with Susan Gillman, and The Modern Girl Around the World: Consumption, Modernity and Globalization (2008), a transnational feminist research collaboration (co-authored with Tani Barlow, Madeleine Yue Dong, Uta Poiger, Priti Ramamurthy, and Lynn Thomas). This volume of original essays treats the construction of the unprecedented forms of racialized femininity that appeared around the globe in the early part of the twentieth century. Here, focus is on flappers, garçonnes, moga, modeng xiaojie, and neue Frauen among others.