The Necropolitics of Social Reproduction




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title




Peer reviewed



The paper will use Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics to investigate the role of social reproduction in capitalism. Absent from Mbembe’s analysis of necropolitics is the role of gender, the mother and sphere of the home as integral to colonialism, war and both the necropolitical and biopolitical. Because the sphere of social reproduction is the very locus of life, can we assume that it is also the locus of death? Marxist Feminists argue capitalism is reliant on the production of life (that only woman can give) and because capitalism will strive to squeeze as much surplus from its workers (thus causing poverty) we are caught in a cycle of needing life but giving suspended death.

I will discuss a range of films that focus on the domain of the home, or social reproduction and extend Mbembe’s analysis from the public state of necropolitics and biopolitics to the central role of biological reproduction, the home and the concept of the mother and family in necropolitical, fascist and capitalist economies. In investigating the historically contingent concepts of life and death in relation to the sphere of social reproduction under capitalism we can illuminate the way that value is ascribed, or inscribed to the reproducing body or sphere. Values are placed with varying degrees on certain bodies and social reproductive activities, and as Mbembe identifies with necropolitics it is under complete political and economic domination that we see the living dead.



Necropolitics, film, Racial Capitalism


Brand, C. (2017) The Necropolitics of Social Reproduction. Historical Materialism conference, SOAS University of London, November 2017.


Research Institute

Institute of Art and Design