In the lead article of the October 2021 issue of Race & Class, Deputy Editor Sophia Siddiqui charts new ground showing how reproduction is now a key dividing line in European racism, with global implications.
The publication of ‘Racing the nation: towards a theory of reproductive racism’, which documents how the maintenance of the heteronormative native family has become the cornerstone of far-right campaigning, whilst migrant women uphold a breaking care system, could not be more timely. Only last month, right-wing leaders from around the world met in Budapest for a demography summit in defence of the nuclear family. ‘Increasingly the number of European children is essential to preserving Europe’s Christian culture’, states a joint declaration signed following the event, ‘immigration is not the solution to a falling birth rate in the EU’.
Women are placed at the centre of this new racism and feminists are now charged with facing up to new challenges. For this is just one example of how anti-migration agendas merge with the misogynistic notion of women as the ‘womb of the nation’– who must reproduce in a demographic race against ‘others’. This amounts to a nativist demographics that Siddiqui names ‘reproductive racism’ – a new dividing line in European racism, with global implications.
Based on the monitoring of events in Poland, Hungary, Spain, Germany, Italy, France and the UK over the past two years, the article examines the exclusions that are inherent to family policies of the Right and shows how mobilisations against ‘gender ideology’ and far-right conspiracies like the Great Replacement Theory play out in different contexts. As elements of the far Right gain political ground on issues concerning the family, sexual rights and reproduction, this article could not be more urgent for scholars, activists and researchers looking to understand what is going on in Europe and beyond.
‘This is a racism that is central to the extreme Right, which uses certain women’s bodies as conduits for the production of national identity whilst propelling conspiracy theories of a demographic takeover by migrants, Muslims and increasingly LGBTQ people’, Siddiqui believes.
But reproductive racism is simultaneously embedded in society another way, too. Whilst migrant women are essential to the reproduction of the nation – as carers, domestic workers and cleaners in the midst of a care crisis – nativist policies banish them from the social arena and immigration laws ensure their work is hyper-exploitable and precarious. Often separated from their own families, a predominantly feminised workforce is employed to look after the more affluent native class.
This article incorporates scholarship by Black feminists, social reproduction theorists and anti-fascist feminists, as it also tracks the resistances that are emerging in opposition to anti-equality politics, which have implications for women, migrants, Muslims and anyone who does not fit the mould of the heteronormative nuclear family.
‘Understanding the overall system that entangles us all in the context of globalised capitalism offers the possibilities of coalitional practices of anti-racist feminisms that centre on broad visions of solidarity’, she argues, ‘Feminist strikes happening around the world have already made these links clear, by recognising that race, economic and gender justice are indivisible – one cannot be deal with without the other.’
- Racing the nation: towards a theory of reproductive racism by Sophia Siddiqui
- Israel’s settler-colonialism as a global security paradigm by Ahmad H. Sa’di
- Explosive mixtures: ‘Redbones’ and the racialisation of a white working class by Kendall Artz
- Nations of bankers and Brexiteers? Nationalism and hidden money by Kristín Loftsdóttir and Már Wolfgang Mixa
- NHS: inequality and incorporation by Wayne Farah
- Is cricket ‘for everyone’? reflections on the 2021 Ollie Robinson scandal by Sam Berkson
- The Book of Trespass: crossing the lines that divide us by Nick Hayes (Anita Rupprecht)
- The Interest: how the British establishment resisted the abolition of slavery by Michael Taylor (Danny Reilly)
- I am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett (Sam Berkson)