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Since the early 1980s, neoliberalism—the political work of shrinking the state, shredding the social safety net, and increasing wealth disparities—has transformed our lives in the United States. By looking at families and households, the place where we live our economic situation, How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics argues that the politics of reproduction and reproductive labor (the work we do to keep ourselves and families alive) are the arena where we have fought over neoliberalism’s changes. Debates over the culture wars—welfare reform, immigration, IVF, gay marriage—have above all been a particularly racialized airing of our conflicts over these changes. Wall Street, Republicans, and neoliberal Democrats could not have effected the changes in government and the economy without the denigration of certain households—impoverished, African-American, immigrant—as unworthy of public benefits and social support. From long work hours to intensifying inequalities in infant mortality and housing, How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics measures what we have lost and asks how we can fight to get it back.
Laura Briggs is Professor and Chair of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of several books on gender and empire, including Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico and, most recently, Somebody’s Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption. She also serves as an editor for the University of California Press American Crossroads series.