Wayward Reproductions breaks apart and transfigures prevailing understandings of the interconnection among ideologies of racism, nationalism, and imperialism. Alys Eve Weinbaum demonstrates how these ideologies were founded in large part on what she calls “the race/reproduction bind”––the notion that race is something that is biologically reproduced. In revealing the centrality of ideas about women’s reproductive capacity to modernity’s intellectual foundations, Weinbaum highlights the role that these ideas have played in naturalizing oppression. She argues that attention to how the race/reproduction bind is perpetuated across national and disciplinary boundaries is a necessary part of efforts to combat racism. Gracefully traversing a wide range of discourses––including literature, evolutionary theory, early anthropology, Marxism, feminism, and psychoanalysis––Weinbaum traces a genealogy of the race/reproduction bind within key intellectual formations of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She examines two major theorists of genealogical thinking—Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault—and unearths the unacknowledged ways their formulations link race and reproduction. She explores notions of kinship and the replication of racial difference that run through Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s work; Marxist thinking based on Friedrich Engel’s The Origin of the Family; Charles Darwin’s theory of sexual selection; and Sigmund Freud’s early studies on hysteria. She also describes W. E. B. Du Bois’s efforts to transcend ideas about the reproduction of race that underwrite citizenship and belonging within the United States. In a coda, Weinbaum brings the foregoing analysis to bear on recent genomic and biotechnological innovations.
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This edition of Cultural Studies Review brings together a diverse set of essays and new writing that identify particular national tendencies, notions of family, epistemological worries about postmodernity's represented purpose and queries about cultural studies as it is taught and as it could be understood. There is also some careful exploring of where and why we might be at home in our differences and what a felt homelessness might be. To gather these varied strands beneath the heading 'Homefronts' acknowledges, as always, the plurality of the environments that we call home and the battles of representation, and being, that make up the experiences of nation, family, philosophy and academic discipline that render those sites particular and so personal to us.
J. Kameron Carter argues that black theology's intellectual impoverishment in the Church and the academy is the result of its theologically shaky presuppositions, which are based largely on liberal Protestant convictions, and he critiques the work of such noted scholars as Albert Raboteau, Charles Long and James Cone.
Zombies first shuffled across movie screens in 1932 in the low-budget Hollywood film White Zombie and were reimagined as undead flesh-eaters in George A. Romero’s The Night of the Living Dead almost four decades later. Today, zombies are omnipresent in global popular culture, from video games and top-rated cable shows in the United States to comic books and other visual art forms to low-budget films from Cuba and the Philippines. The zombie’s ability to embody a variety of cultural anxieties—ecological disaster, social and economic collapse, political extremism—has ensured its continued relevance and legibility, and has precipitated an unprecedented deluge of international scholarship. Zombie studies manifested across academic disciplines in the humanities but also beyond, spreading into sociology, economics, computer science, mathematics, and even epidemiology. Zombie Theory collects the best interdisciplinary zombie scholarship from around the world. Essays portray the zombie not as a singular cultural figure or myth but show how the undead represent larger issues: the belief in an afterlife, fears of contagion and technology, the effect of capitalism and commodification, racial exclusion and oppression, dehumanization. As presented here, zombies are not simple metaphors; rather, they emerge as a critical mode for theoretical work. With its diverse disciplinary and methodological approaches, Zombie Theory thinks through what the walking undead reveal about our relationships to the world and to each other. Contributors: Fred Botting, Kingston U; Samuel Byrnand, U of Canberra; Gerry Canavan, Marquette U; Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, George Washington U; Jean Comaroff, Harvard U; John Comaroff, Harvard U; Edward P. Comentale, Indiana U; Anna Mae Duane, U of Connecticut; Karen Embry, Portland Community College; Barry Keith Grant, Brock U; Edward Green, Roosevelt U; Lars Bang Larsen; Travis Linnemann, Eastern Kentucky U; Elizabeth McAlister, Wesleyan U; Shaka McGlotten, Purchase College-SUNY; David McNally, York U; Tayla Nyong’o, Yale U; Simon Orpana, U of Alberta; Steven Shaviro, Wayne State U; Ola Sigurdson, U of Gothenburg; Jon Stratton, U of South Australia; Eugene Thacker, The New School; Sherryl Vint, U of California Riverside; Priscilla Wald, Duke U; Tyler Wall, Eastern Kentucky U; Jen Webb, U of Canberra; Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Central Michigan U.
From the clamshell razors and homemade lye depilatories used in colonial America to the diode lasers and prescription pharmaceuticals available today, Americans have used a staggering array of tools to remove hair deemed unsightly, unnatural, or excessive. This is true especially for women and girls; conservative estimates indicate that 99% of American women have tried hair removal, and at least 85% regularly remove hair from their faces, armpits, legs, and bikini lines. How and when does hair become a problem—what makes some growth “excessive”? Who or what separates the necessary from the superfluous? In Plucked, historian Rebecca Herzig addresses these questions about hair removal. She shows how, over time, dominant American beliefs about visible hair changed: where once elective hair removal was considered a “mutilation” practiced primarily by “savage” men, by the turn of the twentieth century, hair-free faces and limbs were expected for women. Visible hair growth—particularly on young, white women—came to be perceived as a sign of political extremism, sexual deviance, or mental illness. By the turn of the twenty-first century, more and more Americans were waxing, threading, shaving, or lasering themselves smooth. Herzig’s extraordinary account also reveals some of the collateral damages of the intensifying pursuit of hair-free skin. Moving beyond the experiences of particular patients or clients, Herzig describes the surprising histories of race, science, industry, and medicine behind today's hair-removing tools. Plucked is an unsettling, gripping, and original tale of the lengths to which Americans will go to remove hair.
In 1932, Aldous Huxley published Brave New World, his famous novel about a future in which humans are produced to spec in laboratories. Around the same time, Australian legislators announced an ambitious experiment to “breed the colour” out of Australia by procuring white husbands for women of white and indigenous descent. In this study, Nadine Attewell reflects on an assumption central to these and other policy initiatives and cultural texts from twentieth-century Britain, Australia, and New Zealand: that the fortunes of the nation depend on controlling the reproductive choices of citizen-subjects. Better Britons charts an innovative approach to the politics of reproduction by reading an array of works and discourses – from canonical modernist novels and speculative fictions to government memoranda and public debates – that reflect on the significance of reproductive behaviours for civic, national, and racial identities. Bringing insights from feminist and queer theory into dialogue with work in indigenous studies, Attewell sheds new light on changing conceptions of British and settler identity during the era of decolonization.
Genealogy has long been one of humanity's greatest obsessions. But with the rise of genetics, and increasing media attention to it through programs like Who Do You Think You Are? and Faces of America, we are now told that genetic markers can definitively tell us who we are and where we came from. The problem, writes Eviatar Zerubavel, is that biology does not provide us with the full picture. After all, he asks, why do we consider Barack Obama black even though his mother was white? Why did the Nazis believe that unions of Germans and Jews would produce Jews rather than Germans? In this provocative book, he offers a fresh understanding of relatedness, showing that its social logic sometimes overrides the biological reality it supposedly reflects. In fact, rather than just biological facts, social traditions of remembering and classifying shape the way we trace our ancestors, identify our relatives, and delineate families, ethnic groups, nations, and species. Furthermore, genealogies are more than mere records of history. Drawing on a wide range of evidence, Zerubavel introduces such concepts as braiding, clipping, pasting, lumping, splitting, stretching, and pruning to shed light on how we manipulate genealogies to accommodate personal and collective agendas of inclusion and exclusion. Rather than simply find out who our ancestors were and identify our relatives, we actually construct the genealogical narratives that make them our ancestors and relatives. An eye-opening re-examination of our very notion of relatedness, Ancestors and Relatives offers a new way of understanding family, ethnicity, nationhood, race, and humanity.
The conventional view of the family in the nineteenth-century novel holds that it venerated the traditional domestic unit as a model of national belonging. Contesting this interpretation, American Blood argues that many authors of the period challenged preconceptions of the family and portrayed it as a detriment to true democracy and, by extension, the political enterprise of the United States. Relying on works by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Wells Brown, Pauline Hopkins, and others, Holly Jackson reveals family portraits that are claustrophobic, antidemocratic, and even unnatural. The novels examined here welcome, in Jackson's reading, the decline of the family and the exclusionary white-privileging American social order that it supported. Embracing and imagining this decline, the novels examined here incorporate and celebrate the very practices that mainstream Americans felt were the most dangerous to the family as an institution-interracial sex, doomed marriages, homosexuality, and the willful rejection of reproduction. In addition to historicized readings, the monograph also highlights how formal narrative characteristics served to heighten their anti-familial message: according to Jackson, the false starts, interpolated plots, and narrative dead-ends prominent in novels like The House of the Seven Gables and Dred are formal iterations of the books' interest in disrupting the family as a privileged ideological site. In sum, American Blood offers a much-needed corrective that will generate fresh insights into nineteenth-century literature and culture.
Blood, according to Gil Anidjar, maps the singular history of Christianity. As a category for historical analysis, blood can be seen through its literal and metaphorical uses as determining, sometimes even defining Western culture, politics, and social practices and their wide-ranging incarnations in nationalism, capitalism, and law. Engaging with a variety of sources, Anidjar explores the presence and the absence, the making and unmaking of blood in philosophy and medicine, law and literature, and economic and political thought from ancient Greece to medieval Spain, from the Bible to Shakespeare and Melville. The prevalence of blood in the social, juridical, and political organization of the modern West signals that we do not live in a secular age into which religion could return. Flowing across multiple boundaries, infusing them with violent precepts that we must address, blood undoes the presumed oppositions between religion and politics, economy and theology, and kinship and race. It demonstrates that what we think of as modern is in fact imbued with Christianity. Christianity, Blood fiercely argues, must be reconsidered beyond the boundaries of religion alone.
In The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery Alys Eve Weinbaum investigates the continuing resonances of Atlantic slavery in the cultures and politics of human reproduction that characterize contemporary biocapitalism. As a form of racial capitalism that relies on the commodification of the human reproductive body, biocapitalism is dependent upon what Weinbaum calls the slave episteme—the racial logic that drove four centuries of slave breeding in the Americas and Caribbean. Weinbaum outlines how the slave episteme shapes the practice of reproduction today, especially through use of biotechnology and surrogacy. Engaging with a broad set of texts, from Toni Morrison's Beloved and Octavia Butler's dystopian speculative fiction to black Marxism, histories of slavery, and legal cases involving surrogacy, Weinbaum shows how black feminist contributions from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s constitute a powerful philosophy of history—one that provides the means through which to understand how reproductive slavery haunts the present.