Reimagining and Redistributing Care: UCI Faculty Member Launches Interdisciplinary Podcast

Associate Professor Catherine Sameh received a UCHRI Podcasting Grant Award for "The Caring in Common Podcast Collective"

Catherine Sameh is Associate Professor and Graduate Director of Gender and Sexuality Studies at UC Irvine, with affiliations in Global Middle East Studies and Persian Studies. Her book, Axis of Hope: Iranian Women’s Rights Activism across Borders (University of Washington Press, 2019) examines the role of feminism in reconfiguring national, transnational, and anti-colonial discourses and practices. Her work is broadly concerned with social movements in the Middle East; gender and feminism in Iran and the diaspora; transnational and women of color feminisms; gender and Islam; critical feminist challenges to Islamophobia; activist labors and affects; and migration. Sameh has taught on the politics of care in her undergraduate and graduate courses at UCI. Her new research project explores the role of local and transnational foodways in immigrant stories of displacement, exile, memory, labor, care, and survival.

Urgent environmental, economic, social and political crises characterize our times. Climate catastrophes, food deserts, struggles over water and land—all effects of extractive capitalism—sound the alarm for a restorative and redistributive approach to local and global ecologies and economies. The privatization of public goods like healthcare and education, and the hollowing out of an already meager safety net has deepened inequality and suffering, signaling the need for a reinvestment in a robust and democratic commons. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly intensified the unequal distribution of illness, suffering, poverty, and death, revealing and exacerbating the burden of care that women and people of color disproportionately bear. These crises have generated renewed attention to care in academic, journalistic, and popular discussions. Yet, often these discussions are kept separate, severing connections among the root causes of multiple crises. For instance, critiques of the privatized gender regime of care in the family are usually not connected to climate disaster. Undergirding both, however, are extractive labor practices, neoliberal ideologies, and a worldview that naturalizes gender, race, and domination. This podcast will mobilize two key rubrics—care and (the) common(s)—to: 1) critically examine a set of distinct and interlinked economic, socio-political, and ecological events and conditions that define the 21st century; 2) engage the myriad ways in which care is practiced and administered at multiple scales to ameliorate crisis, suffering, burden, immiseration, precarity, scarcity, and violence; and 3) reveal the shared epistemological underpinnings of caring for and within the commons across multiple locations, sites, (infra)structures and disciplines.

The Caring in Common Podcast Collective is composed of Catherine Sameh, Jennifer Terry, Laura Kang,and Sarah Rodrigues. Imagining care across institutions, social formations, political structures, and planetary ecologies demands a robust and synthetic analysis of the distinct and interrelated ideologies and systems of violence, domination, immiseration, death, and extinction. As scholars working in gender and sexuality studies (Sameh, Terry, Kang), nursing (Rodrigues), cultural studies (Kang), transnational feminisms (Sameh, Kang), and medical humanities (Terry, Rodrigues), we seek to draw out these analyses within, across, and beyond our disciplines and research tracks.