Footprinting the Tentacular Womb

Authors: Sophie Lewis*,
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Ethnicity and Race, Social Geography
Keywords: kin, pregnancy, postgenomics, anthropocene, population
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Grand Chenier, Sheraton, 5th Floor


Is the foot that makes the 'footprint' so noxious to the earth's climate really a womb? How can we learn to talk about the productive dynamics of procreation qualitatively, while eschewing eugenics on the one hand and "voluntary human extinction" on the other? As Michelle Murphy has recently articulated, both in her recent book and in the form of dissent within conversations about "kinmaking" among multispecies feminists, we urgently need ways to understand the worldwide proliferation of human beings that are responsible to the current capitalist climatological juncture without having recourse to ‘populationism’. I hope to contribute alongside Murphy to this project of reframing the labor of anthrogenesis as collective and political, as opposed to a de-cluttering problem. My paper specifically seeks to combine two things: (a) postgenomic accounts of the manufacture of new biophysical human infants as a transcorporeal, "tentacular" matter (focusing on microchimerism and the epigenetics of pregnancy, especially in waged gestational surrogacy); and (b) an "Anthropocene-critical" engagement of the avowed desire for human depopulation currently regaining momentum not only on the right of the political spectrum but also the left.

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