“Abolish the family? You might as well abolish gravity,” begins Abolish the Family: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation (Verso, 2022), a new book from Sophie Lewis, a writer, teacher, and visiting scholar at Center for Research in Feminist, Queer and Transgender Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
In an upcoming talk for the Society for the Humanities co-sponsored by the departments of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Literatures in English, and Africana Studies, Sophie Lewis will offer a deep dive into the history of radical movements to imagine family abolition, or, a turning away from the privatization of care toward a future in which love, care, and belonging are a communal effort.
The lecture titled “Abolish Which Family? Black Familiality, Patriarchal Motherhood, and the Communization of Care” will take place in the Guerlac Room of the A.D. White House on Wednesday, March 1 at 5pm followed by a reception and will be free and open to the public.
As a self-proclaimed “utopian,” Lewis’s work asks us to imagine a future with something other than the traditional nuclear family as our default social reality. “Lewis helps us see family abolition as a world-making rather than as a subtraction of infrastructure,” writes Sianne Ngai, prominent cultural theorist and Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English at the University of Chicago, of Abolish the Family.
"Even in so-called happy families, the unpaid, unacknowledged work that it takes to raise children and care for each other is endless and exhausting. It could be otherwise,” summarizes Verso books on the inside cover of Abolish the Family. “This exhilarating manifesto looks at historic rightwing panic about Black families and the violent imposition of the family on indigenous communities, and insists that only by thinking beyond the family can we begin to imagine what might come after.”
Lewis’s first book Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family (Verso, 2019)—hailed by Donna Haraway as “the seriously radical cry for full gestational justice that I long for”—interrogates the surrogacy industry (its conditions and wages) in order to conclude “let pregnancy be for everyone.” Lewis’s essays and commentaries appear in venues such as n+1, Boston Review, The Nation, The Baffler, Mal, e-flux, the New York Times and London Review of Books, and she frequently teaches courses on feminist, trans and queer politics and philosophy for the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.
In addition to the lecture, Sophie Lewis will host a casual lunch discussion for humanities graduate and undergraduate students at the A.D. White House on Thursday, March 2nd from 12-1pm. To RSVP for the lunch, please contact Alex McNeil at email@example.com.
Kina Viola is Program Coordinator for the Society for the Humanities