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What goes around comes around? Colonial violence and transnational repro-assistance

Online talk by Sophie Lewis, moderated by Hana Janečková

February 28, 2024 at 6 p.m.
Youtube livestream
Moderated by Hana Janečková

The event will be held in English.


Living human fetuses, conceptualized as genetically “authored” private property, are among the many commodities whose manufacture can now be outsourced to the Global South under capitalism. One of the locations where commercial gestational surrogacy “production” has occurred in the 21st century is, as it happens, Bhopal, India, an area synonymous with a giant gas leak. As environmentalists have long attempted to make known, the disaster was inflicted on the Bhopali population by the Union Carbide corporation (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical) in 1984. Even forty years later, the poisonous methyl isocyanate from the gas leak continues to exert its effects on the reproductive biology of women, men, and children in Bhopal. In fact, as feminist neuroscientist Deboleena Roy has shown, the MIC compound has made its way back to the Global North via the bodies of “surro-babies” commissioned by, for example, European and American parents. So, what can this circuit of historic molecular violence, whereby toxicity is returned to its place of origin through the labors of gestating Indians, tell us about the task of decolonization? When that which goes around ends up coming around, how do we respond to the accidental kinship forged?


The event is part of the accompanying programme for the Nature Red in Tooth and Claw exhibition, curated by Hana Janečková.

Sophie Lewis is a writer and independent scholar living in Philadelphia. She is currently at work on a third book manuscript entitled Enemy Feminisms, forthcoming with Haymarket. Her first two books, both published by Verso Books, are Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family (2019) and Abolish the Family: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation (2022). Sophie’s essays and articles appear in academic journals like Feminist Theory as well as literary ones like n+1. Sophie has a PhD in Geography at Manchester University, as well as an MA Politics from the New School, and a BA in English literature from Oxford University, which was followed by an MSc in Environmental Policy (also at Oxford). Dr. Lewis teaches short courses at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, open to all and online. She also has an unpaid visiting affiliation with the Center for Research on Feminist, Queer and Transgender Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. You can find her lectures and writings at lasophielle.org, and become a subscriber at patreon.com/reproutopia.


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ERSTE Foundation is main partner of tranzit.

Supported using public funding by the Slovak Arts Council.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Media partners:
Artalk.info, Flash Art CZ & SK, Kapitál, GoOut.net

Natalie Wiswell, Blossoming Womb, 2018, 30" x 40", acrylic, paper, courtesy of the artist



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