Crises of Social Reproduction in the US South: Gender, Race, and the Precarities of Daily Life
Organizers: Jennifer Bickham Mendez, The College of William & Mary
Carrie Freshour, Cornell University
The relationship between paid and unpaid work has long been a site of critical inquiry for feminist theorists as a point of departure for analyzing the oppression of women within patriarchal, racist, capitalist systems. A generation of feminist theorists has also called into question a Western, bourgeois ideological construct of fixed, bounded domains of “home” and “work.” A legacy of such feminist theoretical projects, the concept of social reproduction continues to represent a useful analytical tool for capturing and rendering visible the undervalued, gendered and racialized labor, material social practices and forces that “sustai[n] production and social life in all its variations” (Katz 2008). Scholars have called for expanded, theoretically nuanced conceptualizations of social reproduction to capture more effectively the economic and social realities that have unfolded under neoliberal imperatives, including pronounced social disinvestment and restructuring of care alongside the dramatic intensification of state surveillance, policing, and militarization (Weeks 2015; Fraser 2016). As a contemporary locus for neoliberal restructuring, the US South presents a highly useful site for the critical examination of current crises of social reproduction. At the same time, the legacies of both the brutally oppressive, racialized and gendered labor regimes developed through the enslavement of Black Americans and a racialized system of mass incarceration (Winders and Smith 2015) along with the sustainment of what Clyde Woods (1998) theorizes as “plantation ideology” call for scholarly attention to the shifting dynamics of social reproduction in the region.
How have “crises of social reproduction” unfolded differently across various sites and historical time periods in the South? What do such contemporary and historical variations reveal about the dialectical relationship between production and the work of household and community maintenance? How are intersecting dynamics of race, gender, immigration status, and sexuality implicated in the precarious ways in which daily life has been engineered in the South?
The organizers seek papers that explore the intricacies of social reproduction in the context of the US South by addressing these and other questions. Of particular interest are papers that push the boundaries of theoretical conceptualizations of social reproduction. We welcome papers that examine diverse themes and draw on varied disciplinary and theoretical perspectives.
Scholars interested in participating should please send a 250-word abstract and 100-word biographical statement to the organizers at: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Deadline for submission: July 15, 2017