With Anne Hendrixson

Populationism refers to “ideologies that attribute social and ecological ills to human numbers” (Butler and Angus 2011, xxi). In this class, we will examine three dimensions of populationism: demo-, geo- and bio. Demopopulationism refers to knowledges, practices and policies that blame human numbers for global problems in order to rationalize efforts to reduce population growth and “optimize” population composition along the lines of race and class. We will look at past and contemporary population control efforts targeted at poor, cisgendered women of color in the global South and the US. Geopopulationism describes racialized, socio-spatial segregation including the strengthening of borders, detainment, and climate change adaptation strategies that involve dispossession, displacement, and discriminatory redistribution of land and natural resources. We will examine a range of geopopulationist projects, which could include mass incarceration in the US; strategic use of the concept of “climate” refugees to justify building borders; and land and water seizure by private corporations and government developers that forces population displacement. Biopopulationism refers to the commodification of bodies and lifestyles that value some lives over others. As examples, we will explore issues like pharmaceutical testing on bodies in parts of the global South to benefit consumers seated primarily in the global North, as well as issues of unequal reproduction, like international surrogacy.

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