Aliens, Vampires, Surrogates: Revolutionising the Gestational Workplace
28 April 2021, 6-7.30pm BST online (booking required)
We’re delighted to welcome Dr Sophie Lewis (Brooklyn Institute for Social Research) and Katie Stone (Birkbeck) who will join Dr Caroline Edwards for a live roundtable discussion of gestational labour. The commodified, often outlawed and invisibilised labour of commercial surrogacy highlights the way in which capitalist biotech moves vulnerable surrogate mothers across borders in a transnational network of business partnership. This gestational workplace – the precarious “pregnancy gig economy” – demands that we reimagine pregnancy, social reproduction, binary gender and the family. We will consider how various monstrous subjects found in utopian and science fiction, from vampires, aliens and parasites to bioengineered Frankensteinian creatures, might offer suggestive glimpses of the kind of gestational communism we all deserve.
Dr Sophie Lewis is a visiting scholar at The Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women at the University of Pennsylvania, and a member of the teaching faculty of the Philadelphia branch of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. She is the author of Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family (Verso Books, 2019), which Donna Haraway hailed as “the seriously radical cry for full gestational justice that I long for.” Sophie’s scholarship operates in the spheres of trans feminist cultural criticism and queer social reproduction theory, notably around utopian critiques of the family, Marxism, and Black and abolitionist feminisms. Her research currently focuses on the etiologies of eugenic, bioconservative and imperial feminisms, including narratives of so-called white slavery past and present, femonationalism, and trans-exclusionary femocratism.
Katie Stone is a PhD student at Birkbeck, University of London. Her thesis explores childhood and utopianism as imagined in science fiction. It seeks to put mainstream science fiction into conversation with feminist, queer and decolonial critical and creative work in order to interrogate the genre’s complicity with various structures of oppression. Katie is co-founder of the research network ‘Utopian Acts’ whose work has been featured in a special issue of Studies in Arts and Humanities Journal which she and Raphael Kabo have edited. Katie has written for Foundation, Fantastika and SFRA Review and she is one of the founding members of the research collective ‘Beyond Gender’. She is on Twitter as @cyborg_feminist and @UtopianActs.
Dr Caroline Edwards is Senior Lecturer in Modern & Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London where she is Director of the Centre for Contemporary Literature. She has published widely on science fiction and utopian literature, contemporary literary form, the philosophy of time, and radical subjectivities. Caroline is author of Utopia and the Contemporary British Novel (Cambridge University Press, 2019), co-editor of China Miéville: Critical Essays (Gylphi, 2015) and Maggie Gee: Critical Essays (Gylphi, 2015), and is editing The Cambridge Companion to British Utopian Literature and Culture, 1945-2020 (forthcoming in 2022). Her research has featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 3, BBC One television, in the Guardian, the New Statesman, SFX Magazine and in a dedicated exhibition at the Museum of London. Caroline is currently writing a book about science fiction and ecocatastrophe.
You can watch a recording of the live event below or on our CCL YouTube channel.