The Ethics and Politics of Breastfeeding: Power, Pleasure, Poetics
Responding to the most widely read breastfeeding manual, the La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, this project understands breastfeeding as an art, a practice that must be developed through skillful application of effort as distinguished from a natural or merely physiological process, while critiquing the manual’s understanding of breastfeeding as “womanly”. Drawing on Michel Foucault, Emmanuel Levinas and Luce Irigaray, this work develops a poststructuralist ethics and politics of breastfeeding in which breastfeeding is understood as an “art of living”, involving creative practices of self- transformation.
Buying, Selling, and Sharing Human Milk
The growing popularity of breast pumps to express milk has made it possible to store, freeze, and transport breast milk. Milk banks in Canada and the U.S. are undersupplied and unable to meet demand. As a consequence, many parents are exchanging milk online, sometimes altruistically and sometimes for payment. American biotech firms are relying on donated milk to produce processed human milk products that are sold to hospitals. These emerging practices are transforming how we think about care work and families.
Environments and Reproductive Health
Two classes of common household chemicals, Brominated Flame Retardants and Phthalates, are being recognized as posing potential risks to reproductive health. This project carries out a gender analysis of the labour involved in mediating chemical exposures, as well as exploring critical race, disability rights and feminist and queer perspectives on the potential reproductive harms caused by exposure to chemicals, and our responsibility to protect the health of future generations.
Consuming Intimacies: Bodies, Labour, Care, and Social Justice
Consuming Intimacies connects an international group of scholars and artists from a range of disciplines working in the areas of intimacies, care and social reproduction, and body studies. We explore how intimacies are “consuming” in that many people care deeply about connecting with and caring for others; yet increasingly, intimate labours and exchanges are commodified and treated as consumer products. There are wide inequalities depending on the geographical location, gender, race, and class of those who provide or receive intimate labours, as well as between those whose bodies are commodified and those who can afford to purchase organs, tissues, and fluids.
This project includes the art exhibit Spare Parts, which explores the illegal global organ trade. Spare Parts is a collaboration between curator Camille Turner, artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg and medical anthropologist Monir Moniruzzaman, with consultation and technical direction by Jim Ruxton.