The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery – Biocapitalism and Black Feminism’s Philosophy of History

Alys Eve Weinbaum
Level: beginner
Publisher: Duke University Press
Perspective: Feminist Economics
Topic: Capitalism, Feminism, labour & care
page count: 296 pages

Blurb

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.

Book summary

This book investigates the continuing resonances of Atlantic slavery in the cultures and politics of human reproduction that characterize contemporary biocapitalism. Alys Eve Weinbaum outlines biocapitalism as a form of racial capitalism that relies on the commodification of the human reproductive body, which is dependent upon what Weinbaum calls the slave episteme. In addition to laying out how to conceptually think of this system, Weinbaum also demonstrates how slave epistemes shape the practice of reproduction today, for example through the use of biotechnology and surrogacy. Interestingly, Weinbaum also links her analysis to black feminist contributions from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, which she argues provide the means through which to understand how reproductive slavery haunts the present.

 

Recommended by Diversify and Decolonize Economics


Donate

This project is brought to you by the Network for Pluralist Economics (Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik e.V.).  It is committed to diversity and independence and is dependent on donations from people like you. Regular or one-off donations would be greatly appreciated.