Ecological guilt and reproductive activism: responsibility and its ambiguities

Keynote presenter Dr Mihaela Mihai will focus on a specific form of political contestation fuelled by ecological guilt: the BirthStrike.

In this talk, Dr Mihaela Mihai’s keynote presentation will explore the merits and the limits of centring activism on the decision to not have children due to the environmental crisis. As Dr Mihai argues, while this expressive force of ecological guilt is an important political contribution within a (still) predominantly escapist public sphere, such decisions remain trapped in a maternalistic, pro-natalist and anthropocentric imaginary.

As a counter proposal, Dr Mihai will put forward several alternatives that responsibly tackle the complicated links between reproduction and environmentalism, and promote the valuation of both human and non-human life. Join us for this presentation and Q&A discussion facilitated by Professor Danielle Celermajer.

This event is part of the Nature Feelz: Perspectives and reflections on ecological emotions symposium hosted by the Sydney Environment Institute in partnership with RMIT University's Urban Futures platform.

This event was held at the University of Sydney on Tuesday 6 December 2022.


Mihaela Mihai is a political theorist at the University of Edinburgh, where she co-directs the Centre for Ethics and Critical Thought. She works at the intersection of critical theory, aesthetics, memory studies and social theory. She is the author, among others, of Negative Emotions and Transitional Justice (Columbia University Press, 2016) and of Political Memory and the Aesthetics of Care: The Art of Complicity and Resistance (Stanford University Press, 2022).

Danielle Celermajer is the Sydney Environment Institute’s Deputy Director – Academic and lead of SEI’s Environmental imaginaries & storytelling research theme. Dany also leads SEI’s research cluster Concepts and practices and multispecies justice and is a Professor of Sociology and Social Policy in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. After living through the 2019/2020 NSW bushfires, Dany wrote of her experience of the “killing of everything”, which she calls “omnicide” and published her book Summertime: Reflections on a Vanishing Future.

Header image: Climate rally, New York, September 2019. Image by Noah Labinaz via Shutterstock, ID: 1510042496.


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