Constructing Solidarities for a Humane Urbanism

Erotic Cities

From the colonial era to the present transnational era, care work is central to urbanism. In the talk below, Faranak Miraftab points to how the labor of care work, which is usually the labor of women, has been systematically made invisible. Capitalism, sexism, and racism are structurally sustained through the erasure of social reproduction from our collective consciousness. The gendered care work around the globe is critical for globalization. At the same time, contemporary capitalist states deploy humanitarian notions of care to control and manage the political, social, and ecological crises generated through its daily processes. Humanitarian care is temporary, moves from crisis to crisis, creates a hierarchy of innocence, and ignores historical factors.  
To challenge contemporary inhumane urbanism, Miraftab argues, we need to make care visible as well as rethink the notion of care. Building on Audre Lorde’s work on eroticism and erotic society, Miraftab calls us to construct societies that allow deep sharing, feeling, and collective empowerment across scales. Radical care pays attention to history and does not create vertical hierarchy. How do we make care work visible and acknowledge the dignity of care work? In the readings, we will delve into the limitations of humanitarian care as well as reflect on how care work has been restructured across disparate geographies. We will also look at cases of transnational feminist organizing around care work.

Reading Suggestions

Lourdes, B. and Feldman, S. (Eds.) (1992). Unequal Burden: Economic Crises, Persistent Poverty, and Women's Work . Boulder: Westview Press.

Barnes, T. (1993). "We Women Worked So Hard": Gender, Labour and Social Reproduction in Colonial Harare, Zimbabwe, 1930-1956 (Doctoral dissertation, University of Zimbabwe).

Miraftab, F. (2004). Neoliberalism and casualization of public sector services: the case of waste collection services in Cape Town, South Africa. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research28(4), 874-892.

Miraftab, F. (2004). Making neo-liberal governance: The disempowering work of empowerment. International planning studies9(4), 239-259.

Miraftab, F. (2011). Faraway intimate development: Global restructuring of social reproduction. Journal of Planning Education and Research31(4), 392-405.

Huang, S. M. (2015). Urbanizing Carescapes of Hong Kong: Two Systems, One City. Lexington Books.

Miraftab, F. (2016). Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives, and Local Placemaking. Indiana University Press.

Ticktin, M. (2016). Thinking beyond humanitarian borders. Social Research: An International Quarterly83(2), 255-271.

Ticktin, M. I. (2011). Casualties of care: Immigration and the politics of humanitarianism in France. University of California Press.

Lorde, A. (1984). The uses of the erotic: The erotic as power. The lesbian and gay studies reader, 339-343.

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