Program: Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 7pm - e-flux lectures: Sophie Lewis, “Wages for Womb-Work, Polymaternalism, Critical Firestonianism”
Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 7pm          e-flux, 311 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002, USA

e-flux lectures: Sophie Lewis, “Wages for Womb-Work, Polymaternalism, Critical Firestonianism”

An artificial womb that can grow baby sheep.

Join us for a lecture by Sophie Lewis, author of the essay “Full Surrogacy Now” (e-flux journal #99) and the book Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family (Verso, 2019).

Full Surrogacy Now is both a description of the dystopian structure of planetary reality in the present (reproductive stratification) and a cry for family abolition. Over the course of her theorization, which seeks to synthesize black-feminist polymaternalisms and the Wages for Housework (“wages against womb-work”) sensibility, author Sophie Lewis also critically echoes Shulamith Firestone's Dialectic of Sex (1970). Not unlike contemporary xenofeminisms, Full Surrogacy Now returns to the utopianism of Firestone in that it is centred on the problem of pregnancy qua work and the relationship between this problem and the private nuclear household under capitalism. 

But in this lecture, Lewis will expand on her “critical Firestonianism,” clarifying—with reference to the history of family-abolitionism in queer and women's liberation struggles—what abolishing the family means and doesn't mean; and what is at stake in de-romanticizing the labor of care. Ultimately, Lewis argues, with reference to investigations she conducted this year in Philadelphia into the “bio-bag” (real life ectogenetic technology for gestating sheep fetuses, and, next year, human ones), our conjuncture compels us to re-prioritize the question: What role might automation, another key theme of Firestone’s race-blind utopia, play in a gestator-led struggle in and against the whiteness-reproducing work of capitalist babymaking?

Sophie Lewis is a writer and part-time faculty member at the Philadelphia branch of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. Sophie's interdisciplinary work tends to blend feminist theory and cultural criticism, interrogating work, nature, and reproduction in a queer utopian mode. Her essays have appeared in many journals (both academic and non-academic) including SignsFeminist ReviewGender Place and Culture, ViewpointBoston ReviewThe London Review of BooksThe New York TimesMuteSalvage Quarterly, LogicThe New Inquiry, and Commune. She is also a member of the ecological writing collective Out of the Woods, and an editor at the journal Blind Field. As an occasional translator (to make ends meet), she has translated books from German including the popular Communism for Kids by Bini Adamczak, A Brief History of Feminism by Antje Schrupp, and Other and Rule by Paula Villa and Sabine Hark (forthcoming with Verso). Her PhD from the University of Manchester was in Geography, and she also holds two degrees from Oxford University—in English Literature and Nature, Society and Environmental Policy respectively—as well as a Master's in Politics from the New School for Social Research. Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family is her first book.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

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