With coffee and cake.
On the last day of the exhibition Unruly Kinships Alva Gotby will join us for an informal seminar and conversation about her new book, They Call It Love: The Politics of Emotional Life (Verso, 2023).
Comforting a family member or friend, soothing children, providing company for the elderly, ensuring that people feel well enough to work; this is all essential labour. Without it, capitalism would cease to function. They Call It Love investigates the work that makes a haven in a heartless world, examining who performs this labour, how it is organised, and how it might change. In this groundbreaking book, Alva Gotby calls this work 'emotional reproduction', unveiling its inherently political nature. It not only ensures people's well-being but creates sentimental attachments to social hierarchy and the status quo. Drawing on the thought of the feminist movement Wages for Housework, Gotby demonstrates that emotion is a key element of capitalist reproduction. To improve the way we relate to one another will require a radical remodelling of society beyond the boundaries of private and public and beyond the spheres of waged work and family life. The fight for alternative modes of kinship has to go hand in hand with abolishing capital as well as other structures of dominance such as race and hetereosexuality.
She writes: “One reason the family remains a hegemonic form, even as it has become more precarious and flexible than it was in the post-war period, is that we have failed to construct viable alternatives. (...) People keep imagining family relations as the source of good life, despite how inadequate they are in terms of meeting the emotional and physical needs of most people.” During the meeting we will focus on different forms of undoing the privatisation of family and the privatisation of feeling. We will ask how can we queer the emotional reproduction and “do the emotion” differently: ungender it (so that taking care of others is not tied to a particular gender, ex. female), accept and cultivate emotional discomfort (“rather than allowing comfort and niceness to be given only to the most privileged”), make it non-hierarchical, reciprocal and non-proprietarian. We will discuss othermothering, informal economies, queer reproduction and radical politics of friendship as well as the example of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an activist group and a collective, founded in 1970 in New York, that provided material and emotional support for the black and brown trans community. We will focus on selected fragments of the book. It is not necessary to have read the book earlier or to register.
Alva Gotby is a writer and organiser living in London. She holds a PhD in Media Studies from the University of West London. She writes on feminist theory, social reproduction, housing, emotions, and family, and is the author of They Call It Love: The Politics of Emotional Life.
Alva Gotby, Photo: Catharina Gotby