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Understanding Racial and Colonial Violence

Fri, October 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Sheraton Centre, Chestnut West


Few people link reproductive politics to violence. Yet across my two monographs—Reproducing Empire and Somebody’s Children—I have argued that if we want to understand racial and colonial violence, we need to think through the specifically gendered—and reproductive—ways that violence is visited on communities. In this category, I would include the elaboration of a development discourse of “overpopulation” in relationship to Puerto Rico and industrialization; the large-scale removal of Native kids from the moment of reservation policy through the fights over tribal sovereignty in the 70s through the recent Baby Veronica case. I would also look to the taking of African-American children into foster care, which began in the context of the Civil Rights movement and expanded again during the period of “War on Drugs” mass incarceration (which I argue actually affected mothers first—“crack babies” were the opening salvo). Further, I have done research establishing that the kidnapping of Guatemalan and Salvadoran children of purported Leftists during the Cold War (and with the financial support of the US) was actually much broader in scale than what happened in the better-known case of Argentina. Finally, in this neoliberal NGO-era, we should look to the large-scale transnational adoption movements of both fundamentalist religious groups and liberal humanitarianism.
This paper will follow the track of racialized, colonial reproductive violence across these multiple periods. It will theorize violence in intersectional ways, showing how gender, sexual, and reproductive violence emerge in relationship to issues of settler colonialism, slavery, military conquest, racial rebellion, mass incarceration, neoliberalization, NGO-ification, U.S. empire, and US poverty policy.


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