Professor Laura Briggs teaches and researches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is an authoritative voice in several fields relating to reproductive politics across the Americas. She is the author of several monographs, including the landmark 2003 book Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico, the 2017 book How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump, and most recently, Taking Children: A History of American Terror.
In this broad-ranging conversation, we discuss the many ways that reproduction shapes politics, and vice versa. Professor Briggs first describes how neoliberalism intensifies and distorts care labour. We also discuss the separation of children from their families by paramilitaries during the Guatemalan civil war, in processes that became monetised through the transnational adoption industry. The conversation also centres on how race science intersected with empire and reproductive control in Puerto Rico, and how historic dynamics weigh on contemporary debates surrounding reproduction - such as representations of the nation as a “welfare island”.