What to Expect When You’re Existential: The Politics of Reproduction During Times of Climate Crisis
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Climate change represents an existential crisis demanding human response, whether it be actively preparatory or reactively passive. This thesis project is aimed at understanding and analyzing the complex intersectionalities of international movements and personal pledges through an exploratory qualitative research process that elevates the lived experiences of climate organization leaders and members. Focusing on two climate groups with reproductive themes — UK-based “Birth Strike for the Climate” and US-based “Conceivable Future” — this thesis investigates the underlying political demands and grassroots organizing that have led to group members pledging not to have children because of climate change. I use the collectivist approach of Feminist Marxism to tie together class and gender liberation, and I build on reproductive justice — an intersectional framework for reproductive advocacy and racial justice told through acknowledging the legacy of racial reproductive violence — to reject individualism for its inadequacy as a political response. Ultimately, I argue that justice cannot be achieved by working within or replicating the systems that created the problem. I approached my research process with the intention of bridging conventionally-viewed ‘objective’ academic knowledge (in the form of theoretical literature, data analysis, and historical primary sources) with feminist epistemologies. I conducted interviews with members involved on different levels of Birth Strike and Conceivable Future. Through applied thematic analysis, qualitative interviews with climate organization founders and members were coded and comparatively interpreted against official movement statements and extensive theoretical literature. I used qualitative and interpretive methods of analysis for outgoing communications of Birth Strike and Conceivable Future through their website statements and social media. These methods are integral to gaining the depth of understanding necessary for balancing personal and academic perspectives on the same theme.