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The Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies is excited to announce the 2023 Rainbow Lecture, which will be presented by Sophie Lewis. We will have an ASL interpreter present, and to make this talk accessible to those who could otherwise not attend we are glad to offer a webinar option. Please contact us at sbai@rochester.edu for webinar details, and let us know when you arrive at the event if you would like ASL interpretation.

About the talk:
What has it meant, historically, to want to "abolish the family"? For over two centuries, sex radicals, feminists, and queer utopianists have dreamed of post-capitalist horizons of collective childrearing, generational de-segregation, and de-privatized social reproduction. Although often disavowed (especially from the eighties onward), this history is in fact a rich and diverse one which includes, for example, designs for Fourierist phalansteries, sf literatures about post-gender utopias, experiments in unschooling, "youth liberation" conferences, communes, kibbutzim, "kitchenless" cities, and Black "third world" gay and lesbian organizing in the US around welfare, family policing, and the conceptualization of children as private property. While not always wedded to the language of "family abolitionism," prior to the eighties, diverse movements were overtly critical of familism, the "familialization" of politics, marriage, adult supremacy, and the private nuclear household. So, what happened to this "red love" imagination, and what, if anything might it offer us in the present?

Today, right-wing forces are driving a wave of renewed enthusiasm for the male-breadwinner model of hetero-domesticity typically associated with the fifties; from so-called "tradwives" to anti-trans "parental rights" activists. Unlike in the fifties, this #tradlife division of household labor is accessible only to very few people, but nevertheless appeals to increasingly many - as an image of sovereignty, unchallenged cissexuality, right reproduction, and patriarchal authority - at the level of cos-play, fantasy, and aesthetics. The outlook for trans youth, in particular, appears bleak. In this lecture, Sophie Lewis will ask: how might revisiting the post-fifties archive of radical anti-familial rebellion, especially the purposively forgotten and buried archives of youth liberation and family abolition, help "educate our desire" for reproductive justice and gender freedom in the twenty-first century? 

About Sophie Lewis:

Sophie Lewis (PhD) is a writer living in Philadelphia, teaching at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, and visiting as an independent scholar at the Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr Lewis is the author, most recently, of Abolish the Family: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation (Verso Books, 2022). She holds a BA in English Literature, as well as an MSc in Environmental Theory, from Oxford University. Her MA in Politics is from the New School for Social Research, and her PhD in geography was earned at the University of Manchester (in 2017). Lewis's essays appear in many non-academic as well as academic journals, including Feminist TheoryParagraph, SignsGender Place & Culture, and The New York Times, Harper'sBoston Review, and The London Review of Books. Her first book was Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family, which Donna Haraway hailed as "the seriously radical cry for full gestational justice that I have longed for." You can support her freelance existence at patreon.com/reproutopia.

Event Details

  • Rachel Grzejka
  • Sylvia Li
  • Claire Becker
  • Andrew Thomas

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