Reproductive labour is sometimes waged, sometimes not. What and how it is valued and waged (which are not the same thing) is a fundamental political question. We can understand it to involve the work of caring and nursing the elderly, the sick and disabled; the birth of, raising and education of children and young people, household cleaning and maintenance, paying of bills; shopping for and preparing of food; sex; and providing emotional support. But reproduction is more than just a list of things we do and don’t do – it is a political perspective that makes visible that which has been hidden. This making visible refers to the struggles that make reproduction and reproductive labour what it is. By finding these struggles we are able to unravel ‘individual’ stories and start to see the connections and strategies that produce the family and the home.
In times of crisis and austerity we can sometimes forget to demand the mode of life we actually desire. In shining a spotlight on reproduction: what it is, how it’s faring (and being reconfigured) in the present, whether it can even be distinguished from production, what it means for us, and the ways it can be weaponized. Groups like FloJo, Race Revolt, and Feminist Fightback have recently pointed out how, with assaults on care infrastructure on the up, we find that reproductive workers are as ever at the fore-front of class struggle—from homes to hospitals and mental health. Despite all our efforts, we find our organising efforts and organisations difficult to sustain, raising the central question again and again: how do we reproduce ourselves outside of the wage? What constitutes our reproductive power? How, for example, do we make our movements more amenable to parents?
This inquiry we will attempt to use our diverse collective knowledge, experiences, stories and ideas to construct a genealogy to map our a history. Each inquiry is orientated around a “lens”. A lens, like what we would imagine a lens to be, is a perspective we can look through that enables us to see the world with a particular emphasis, from a different angle so to expose the parts of the world we may miss and passby.
We want to better understand the present, why are things the way they are, what events and moments have occurred that have had significant effects on the course of struggle – an intersectional class struggle – that illustrate deeper understandings of the shifts and needs of a capital accumulation, how these events relate or not to each other, if they define a break with the past, suggesting that what is now is different to what was before – how does this then effect what we do?
We envisage this to be autodidactic, self-educational sessions to produce collaborative and collective narratives and understandings of the political terrain we are operating upon.
Some things that might be touched upon: What can we see happening now that is an image of the future? Ours and “theirs”? What are the limits exist to forming a movement that attempts to face the totality of capitalism? What does it mean for the way we have currently struggled, to struggle more effectively? What demands can be raised to articulate these new struggles?
Each inquiry will have a facilitator and invited contributors to help lead off the discussions. We want your ideas and participation to do the rest.
Some suggested reading:
Attacks on Reproduction (USA/beyond) – Flo Jo collective
Reproduction – Plan C glossary
Loretta Ross: Understanding Reproductive Justice
Counter-Planning from the Kitchen (Nicole Cox and Silvia Federici)
Women, Race and Class The Approaching Obsolescence of Housework: A Working-Class Perspective (Angela Davis)