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Ringing the alarm for a liveable future: Reproductive anxiety and the climate crisis

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  • UserHeather McMullen and Katharine Dow Queen Mary University of London, Institute of Population Health Sciences, Centre for Global Public Health Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc), University of Cambridge
  • ClockTuesday 15 February 2022, 13:00-14:00
  • HouseDelivered online via Zoom.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Fleur Nash.

This paper draws upon analysis of interviews and textual materials from organisations and forums in the Global North such as BirthStrike, Conceivable Future and No Future No Children which gather pledges, declarations and testimonials asserting people’s reproductive intentions as statements of concern about climate crisis. Out of this material, urgency, precarity and windows of time – from ‘biological clocks’ to the time left to save the planet – emerge to generate new reproductive imaginaries. What happens to reproduction when the horizon of a liveable future is seen to be so radically destabilised? How do people imagine family life and their children’s futures in relation to their expectations of what climate change will mean? How do these imaginings express concern about future life in the Anthropocene? Participants share a bedrock of common concerns – existential anxiety around an uninhabitable earth, species extinctions, water and food shortages, societal upheaval, conflict and forced migration. However, from these shared worries, a wide range of different responses and reconsiderations appear, from re-thinking the very local decision of whether to have children, through to organising politically and socially to enable more liveable futures. A shared concern for reproduction thus generates new and diverse visions: of the roots of the crisis, its solutions, and what agency and practise might mean in this imagined future. In this talk, we will relate these topical conversations to the kinds of broader questions that animate political ecology, considering whether and how this activism can be understood in relation to reproductive or climate justice, efforts to undo the political economic structures that have created the climate crisis or contest (hetero-)normative expectations of kinship and parenthood.

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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