This article introduces the topic of radical care by providing a genealogy of care as a vital but underexamined praxis of radical politics that provides spaces of hope in precarious times. Following recent theoretical interventions into the importance of self-care despite its susceptibility to neoliberal co-optation, the potentialities of self-care may be expanded outward to include other forms that push back against structural disadvantage. Care contains radical promise through a grounding in autonomous direct action and nonhierarchical collective work. However, because radical care is inseparable from systemic inequality and power structures, it can also be used to coerce subjects into new forms of surveillance and unpaid labor, to make up for institutional neglect, and even to position some groups against others, determining who is worthy of care and who is not. With care reentering the zeitgeist as a reaction to today’s political climate, radical care engages histories of grassroots community action and negotiates neoliberal models for self-care. Studies of care thereby prompt us to consider how and when care becomes visible, valued, and necessary within broader social movements. To that end, the articles in this collection locate and analyze the mediated boundaries of what it means for individuals and groups to feel and provide care, survive, and even dare to thrive in environments that challenge their very existence. As the traditionally undervalued labor of caring becomes recognized as a key element of individual and community resilience, radical care provides a roadmap for envisioning an otherwise.
Radical Care: Survival Strategies for Uncertain Times
Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently writing a history of comestible ice in Hawai‘i across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that investigates the sensorial and affective dimensions of Indigenous dispossession.
Tamara Kneese is assistant professor of media studies and director of gender and sexualities studies at the University of San Francisco. Her work considers the affective, embodied, and sacred dimensions of media and technology. She is currently writing a book about the platform infrastructures of digital afterlives.
Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart, Tamara Kneese; Radical Care: Survival Strategies for Uncertain Times. Social Text 1 March 2020; 38 (1 (142)): 1–16. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-7971067
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