In this interview, Jacqueline Stevens discusses her career and her writings in the field of political theory. Her theories about birth, death, and the state guide her as she boldly challenges patriarchal appeals to genetics and heredity in the politics of immigration, wealth distribution, and family law. She challenges the democratic state to acknowledge and overcome its oligarchical and kleptocratic practices. Stevens proposes a number of concrete measures with the aim of achieving a more egalitarian and just society. Rather than concern itself with regulating marriage, the state should recognize parental contracts in order to assure that all children are well cared for. Inheritance should be abolished, with wealth reverting to the state, which would redistribute to ensure social services for everyone. Borders should be opened, and citizenship should be based not on birthplace or lineage but on residency.
In explaining her views, Stevens also discusses narrative, Michel Foucault’s political activism, and her work with the Deportation Research Clinic that she directs at Northwestern. She is currently working on a book about how conquistador narratives and chivalry romance novels informed the settlement of America in order to emphasize the role of fantasy and fiction in materializing these illogical things that have to do with our borders and our deportations. Her previous monographs include Reproducing the State (1999) and States without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals (2009).