Lecture

Mothering Against Motherhood

Sophie Lewis on Louise Bourgeois

What if the visceral intimacy of human pregnancy is no reason to confine the labour of care (for the resultant baby) to a private nuclear household for the best part of twenty years? Sophie Lewis will showcase how critical utopians, radical artists and transfeminists have imagined the future of maternal care.

Sophie Lewis rests hear head upon her hand and looks straigt into the camera

Sophie Lewis

© Christopher Leaman

  • English

According to the poet Adrienne Rich in the 1970s, the word “motherhood” referred to a patriarchal institution, while “mothering” denoted a potentially liberatory, collaborative social force. In the US, this dialectic – of mothering against motherhood – has recently been taken up by queer Black feminists such as Alexis Pauline Gumbs (co-editor of Revolutionary Motherhood) as well as by Sophie Lewis in her book Full Surrogacy Now, an argument for “gestational communism”.

Sophie Lewis is a writer, critical utopianist and independent scholar living in Philadelphia. 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). Lewis’s essays and articles have appeared in journals like Feminist Theory as well as n+1, Harper’s and the London Review of Books. Lewis teaches short courses on social and critical theory at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, open to all and online. She also has a visiting affiliation with the Center for Research on Feminist, Queer and Transgender Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.