The Politics of Care: Feminist Infrastructures of Love and Labor

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2026-06-06

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2024

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Abstract

In recent years, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges posed by climate change, political theorists and organizers have directed their attention towards the “crisis of care.” The crisis of care refers to a generalized yet unevenly distributed breakdown in the ability to maintain social, ecological, and political systems. The consequences of this crises are multifarious, harming underrepresented minorities and workers, health and education services, the natural environment, and the institutions of liberal democracy. Feminist care theorists have analyzed these interlocking crises of care from a variety of perspectives, criticizing the way care is distributed in a capitalist society, and even postulating the need to care for human and non-human entities that are interconnected through relations of interdependence. Nevertheless, the question of how to enact a politics of care remains open from theoretical and practical perspectives. “The Politics of Care: Feminist Infrastructures of Love and Labor” addresses this question by examining how a politics of care is produced as an effect of the interdependence between Global South and Global North, nature and culture, human and non-human. To do so, this dissertation critically reexamines the archives of two prominent strands of feminist thought: posthumanism (including decolonial critiques from Central and South America) and Marxist feminism (including critical race theories). It uses the methods of feminist political theory, film, and literary studies in Italian, Spanish and English. The results of the research are threefold. First, I argue for the inseparability of the strategies of love and labor, of regenerative politics and conflictual politics in organizing struggles over care. Second, I track the feminist function (how visions of gender and race emerge) within those struggles and theoretical archives. Third, I argue for the need for feminist infrastructures, and for a transnational understanding of care that is open to influences and practices from the Global North and Global South. Working across the divide between regions of the world, human and non-human, natural and technical, love and labor, “The Politics of Care” offers a complex view of interdependence conceived as infrastructure as a tool for organizing the politics of care.

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Rispoli, Tania (2024). The Politics of Care: Feminist Infrastructures of Love and Labor. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/30964.

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