Careful Cracks: Resistant Practices of Care and Affect-ability
Ludovica D’Alessandro
Care, Resistance, Affect
Krisis 42 (1): 18-28.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, several institutional policies and discourses,
speaking in tandem with a “health” and “nancial crisis”, have highlighted what seem
to be the consequences of an aporetic disentanglement of capitalist relations of pro-
duction and reproduction. Indeed, partial halts to economic production in the wake
of COVID-19 have become equivalent – through symbolic and material actualisations
of vulnerability and care – to a suspension of people’s capacity to sustain themselves.
This dynamic has thus overshadowed alternatives to the capitalist tie of economic pro-
duction with social reproduction. Resisting this landscape, local solidarity groups have
emerged globally to counter the attening of reproduction for the perpetuation of the
socio-economic status quo by creating networks of mutual aid and support. Learning
from these movements, I propose aect-ability as a philosophically productive term and
tool to conceptualise resistant practices of care, toward underscoring the inherent rela-
tionality and vulnerability of bodies as well as its unequal and inequitable eects, while
rethinking the notion of care itself from these ontological, political, and ethical premises.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution 4.0 License International License (CC
BY 4.0). © 2022 The author(s).
Careful Cracks: Resistant Practices of Care and Affect-ability
Ludovica D’Alessandro
Situated in Milan, Northern Italy, during the rst year of the COVID-19 pandemic, I
continuously witnessed institutional policies and discourses that arose from the seeming
consequences of an aporetic disentanglement of capitalist relations of production and
reproduction. Instead of critically considering the contentious and problematic nature
of these institutional sites, the main governance techniques during the pandemic have
rearmed a “There Is No Alternative” logic. Contrary to this backdrop of narratives
and policy landscapes, practices of solidarity “from below”, such as food and medicine
distribution, community childcare, mental health support, and others, have proliferated
nationally and globally. In this way, vulnerability and its unequal distribution have come
to orient and maintain relations of resistance.
Thinking through these events, I propose aect-ability as a philosophically
productive term and tool to conceptualise resistant practices of care. In this article, I
dene and develop an account of aect-ability that is based on every body’s ability to
aect and be aected. By underscoring the ontological relationality and exposure of
bodies, this concept invokes ethical and political accountability for those who become
aected and how they become aected. Through articulating bodies as always-already
aected and aecting, care work can reproduce or resist current social processes of
normalisation, while exposing the connections among ontological, ethical, and political
dimensions of care practices.
The “Two Crisis” of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, questions of care, social reproduction, and
health have come to the forefront of political debate and organisation. Exposing the
lacks, inequalities, and discontinuities in the infrastructures which sustain life, the
pandemic has reinforced activist demands against cuts and privatisation of healthcare
services, exclusion of care workers from basic labour rights, and shortages in medi-
cine and vaccine distribution across global divides, among other terrains of struggles.
Moreover, protests in several countries highlighted that the pandemic has not only
aected populations in terms of its immediate eects on health, but it has crucially
severed pre-existing structures of inequality and marginalisation.
The conditions which “make life possible” have been under attack more intensely,
not only by the risks immediately related to one’s health and care necessities, but also
by what has been described as a nancial crisis taking place at the same time as the health
crisis. Indeed, companies ceasing production temporarily or going bankrupt, uncertainty
in the nancial market, and shrinkages in the demand of goods have catalysed extremely
high rates of job loss, home eviction and debt, thus exacerbating the more “direct” eects
of the pandemic. If the nexus between these two crises – one productive and the other
reproductive – is hence taken as a given in most hegemonic policies and discourses, I
seek to destabilise this causal necessity by asking: why is the possibility to reproduce life
thwarted in the moment economic production shrinks, slows down, or stops?
In Europe and in the United States, the current pandemic-induced nancial
crisis has already resulted in signicantly higher falls in Gross Domestic Products (GDP)
than those recorded from the nancial crisis of 2007-2008. Considering narratives
around the latter in its connection to another crisis - the so-called “refugee crisis” in
Greece -Anna Carastathis, Aila Spathopoulou, and Myrto Tsilimpounidi observe:
What needs further unpacking, then, is the interdependency between the dom-
inant understanding of crisis and the implied return to normativity. In most
debates about the current crisis, questions about the future are limited to asking
when things will return to ‘normal’. In other words, the massive social and polit-
ical shock of the crisis and the destruction of the material conditions it imposes
create nostalgia for what existed ‘before’, an uncritical acceptance of the condi-
tions before the crisis (Carastathis, Spathopoulou, and Tsilimpounidi 2018, 31).
Such mobilisations of the notion of crisis thus go hand-in-hand with a naturalisation of
the status quo. Translated to today’s landscape, I argue that speaking of “nancial crisis” as
a direct and necessary consequence of the “health crisis” caused by the pandemic may,
in fact, hinder the unravelling of the capitalist ties between production and reproduc-
tion, which dangerously naturalises the ideology that decreases in economic growth are
necessarily equivalent to interruptions in life sustainability.
Capitalist Reproduction and Counter-social Reproduction
The entanglement of capitalist relations of production and reproduction has been put
under profound critical scrutiny by Marxist feminist thinkers attempting to elaborate
a unitary analysis of the capitalist system which has converged into social reproduction
theory (Bezanson and Luxton 2006; Vogel 2013; Bhattacharya 2017). Social reproduc-
tion theory aims to sever the ties between “labor dispensed to produce commodi-
ties and labor dispensed to produce people” as parts of the same “systemic totality”
(Bhattacharya 2017, 2). Thus, this analytical apparatus may help explain how capitalist
construction of such a monolithic system – seemingly without exogeneity: as the
infamous Thatcherian slogan goes, “There Is No Alternative” – parallels the strategic
exclusion and dierential inclusion (Mezzadra and Nielsen 2013) of forms of labour
traditionally outside wage mediation and/or undertaken in extremely precarious con-
ditions on which the system is actually built, with care and reproductive work being
among the most paradigmatic examples.
The marginalisation of reproduction as “unproductive” has often been accom-
panied, in capitalist societies as well as most of their economic analyses, by a process
of feminisation and naturalisation of forms of labour relegated to the domestic sphere.
The privatisation of social reproduction is discussed by Isabell Lorey (2015) in relation
to contingent historical actualisations of precarity and autonomy. Through European
modernity, the male white bourgeois subject is indeed armed as an autonomous
being able to act “rationally” in the public sphere, as free as he is master of his own
capacities to produce and possess (Lorey 2015, 29-30). As further analysed by Denise
Ferreira da Silva (2007, 52-3), this process paradoxically proves the postulate, as in John
Locke’s liberal notion of the body politic, that a white male subject is autonomous from
any external determination even in – and precisely by – its subjection to political rules.
Against this backdrop, the kind of risk protection liberal governmentality oers for the
white male citizen is fundamentally based
on the one hand, on the unpaid labour of women in the reproduction area of
the private sphere; on the other hand, on the precarity of all those excluded from
the nation-state compromise between capital and labour - whether as abnormal,
foreign or poor - as well as those living under extreme conditions of exploitation
in the colonies (Lorey 2015, 36).
Therefore, liberal articulations of autonomy are heavily premised on violently unequal
regimes of precarity enabled by the naturalisation of free reproductive labour, as well
as through systems of colonial exploitation and racialisation. How is it then possible to
practice and account for autonomous forms of reproduction and care which – even
temporarily – interrupt and/or resist the ties among capitalist, patriarchal and colonial
regimes of production and exploitation?
The reproduction of relations that are resistant to the capitalist status quo
has been dened by Helen Hester as “counter-social reproduction – that is, as social
reproduction against the reproduction of the social as it stands (2018, 64). Counter-social
reproduction exceeds and resists the reproduction of labour-power; it is rather tied to
shaping communities and infrastructures of care for marginalised lives and bodies. As
argued by Silvia Federici on a similar distinction between the two dimensions of repro-
duction (2008), establishing what could, following Hester, be described as a form of
“counter-care” is fundamental for the sustenance of social movements themselves. For
instance, in thinking about the tradition of working-class mutual aid, Federici claims
that, by radically re-composing care as a terrain of struggle, movements have been
building, in parallel, collective forms of reproduction crucial to their own perpetuation
(2008, 8). Reclaiming this “counter” dimension of reproduction, then, is itself an act of
resistance – exploding capitalist monolithic logic by an autonomous socialisation of one
of its pillars – and of care for resistance, essentially sustaining struggling communities.
Returning to the notion of crisis, counter-social reproduction may well
constitute a crisis by means of its inherent interruption of capitalist gears, creating a
crack which then opens space for another meaning of the word “crisis”: an open-
ended moment of armative redenition and social action. As framed by Carastathis,
Spathopoulou, and Tsilimpounidi:
The question becomes how we can move from the state of emergency (crisis,
precarity, displacement) to a state of transition (critique, resistance, occupation),
and then to one of emergence (solidarity networks, dierent social formations,
alternative economies) (Carastathis, Spathopoulou, and Tsilimpounidi 2018, 33).
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, several moments of “emergence” have indeed
occurred: solidarity networks unfolding from below, such as those in Northern Italy
which proliferated concretely in food and medicine distribution, mental health hotline,
legal support, and itinerant theatre performances, among others. These solidarity
groups took action in support of the psycho-physical health of communities, as well
as in response to the socio-economic eects of the pandemic, thereby caring for the
consequences of what, under capitalism, is an entangled health and nancial crisis.
These moments of emergence broke the causal necessity between the two precisely
by reclaiming reproduction as a terrain of struggle and by creating caring and careful
relations that exceed economic growth. Through these networks, I witnessed processes
of political organisation that attempt to build communities that move from and away
from unequal regimes of precarity and marginalisation. Learning from them, I now turn
to unpack the ontological, political, and ethical premises on which forms of care as
counter-reproduction can be built.
From the Power to Be Affected to Affect-ability
Aect-ability is a philosophically productive term and tool to rethink the concept of
care in its resistant dimensions. By aect-ability I mean every body’s ability to aect
and be aected, which gestures towards a theory of bodies as inherently vulnerable,
exposed and in-relation, both aected and aecting in non-neutral elds of power
across unequal and inequitable regimes.
Let me rst discuss the ontological aspects of this concept. A starting point for
my conceptualisation of aect-ability is Gilles Deleuze’s expression power to be aected
[my italics], presented in the philosopher’s reworking of Michel Foucault’s theory of
power (1988, 71). Moving from a Spinozian conception of aects, Deleuze argues that
any exercise of power manifests itself as an aect (1988, 71). Against this backdrop, a
power relation is a relation between forces, where forces are dened precisely by their
power to aect and be aected: for instance, if to incite and to produce constitute active
aects, then to be incited, or to be induced to produce, constitutes reactive aects (1988,
71). Reactive aects are, for Deleuze, not simply passive – the ipside of active aects
– but rather relational, as there is an irreducible element which resides in the encounter
between forces consisting in the “force aected […] capacity for resistance” (1988, 71).
In this Deleuzian account, the possibility of resistance then constitutes a third power of
force – next to its power to aect and be aected – which stems from the encounter
between active and reactive aects in relation to “a transformative outside” from which
new sets of force relations can emerge (1988, 86).
Therefore, if the capacity to be aected, accordingly to Baruch Spinoza, made
every body a possible vessel for increases and decreases of power, this capacity, in the
Deleuzian reading, fundamentally turns into a form of power itself. Moreover, if forces
are dened by their power to aect and be aected, force itself is inherently subject to
exposure, and this exposure – or ontological susceptibility – establishes the relational
potential of resistance: encounters of active and reactive aects can either result in the
molecular constitution of a resistant outside, or be xed within a particular set of reac-
tive forces. For this reason, I consider this conceptualisation signicant for theorising
how care and reproduction can resist or reproduce specic processes of normalisation.
Looking more closely at the relationship between resistance and the capacity to
aect or be aected, we can see that it performs two main and signicant gestures: this
relationship problematises the active/passive binarism, while arming resistance as “primary”.
Considering the rst point in Deleuze’s description of the “power to be aected”,
the possibility of resistance is catalysed precisely by the relationality immanent to
any aective encounter, in which active and passive poles are not predetermined or
distinguished, but only temporarily produced within specic phenomena. As further
explained by Vinciane Despret (2013, 38), relating forces with aects invites renewed
articulation of agency. In this context, there is no unidirectional movement or linear
causality, but – as in Deleuze’s understanding of aects as relational – agents are activated
precisely by being acted upon, aecting by letting themselves be aected and confer-
ring to others the power to aect us. The second crucial aspect of Deleuze’s account of
power that arms aect-ability is that resistance “comes rst” and can be regarded as
“primary” in regard to power relations (Deleuze 1988, 89). Here, resistance functions as
the inexhaustible and creative potentiality that continuously composes new diagrams of
power by being in relation with the outside from which mutation and change emerge
(1988, 90). These considerations articulate a reading of resistance as a state of becoming:
always-already in-relation but never completely exhausted or reducible to a particular
set of power relations. Thus, resistance cannot be accounted for solely in terms of sub-
version or contraposition to a norm, but becomes the possibility for new congurations
which exceed existing power stratications and destabilise previous categorisations.
This understanding of resistance starts precisely from what is “exogenous” to capitalist
relations, thereby avoiding the production of merely reactive discourse and practices
which remain conned to pervasive and monolithic capitalist logic.
The power to be aected, then, allows for resistance to be theorised as a phe-
nomenon where spheres of activity and passivity collapse, where aecting and being
aected cannot be disjointed or distinguished as separate temporal moments, and
where an ontological relationality and indeterminacy undergird and enable encounter.
However, I would also like to conrm being aected and aecting as an ability – indeed,
as aect-ability – instead of exclusively a power, in order to emphasise the ambivalent,
normative, and opaque embodied dimensions of this capacity. Afterall, the power to
aect and be aected is always-already situated in contexts which are not neutral,
empty, or transparent. Presenting a similar critique in Biopolitics of Feeling, Kyla Schuller
contends that any theory of aect which does not “interrogate how representations
of aective capacity function as a key vector of racialization” remains within the same
“biopolitical imaginary” that has rst produced those hierarchies (2018, 15). To account
for the production of these hierarchies, Schuller extensively explicates how the notion
of “impressibility” – the capacity of internal responsiveness to external stimuli – has
spawned, in nineteenth-century racial thought, an “animacy hierarchy, assigning to
racialised bodies “the impaired state of throwing o aects but being incapable of being
aected by impressions themselves” (2018, 13). In contrast to this “unimpressibility”,
the European subject was represented as having the capacity to absorb external stimuli
that functioned for his own development and process of self-reection.
The hierarchical dimension produced through this kind of relational ontology
is also highlighted in Ferreira da Silva’s theory on the constitution of self-determination
for the white male subject, in which the transparency of the European subject is strictly
tied to the “writing of the others of Europe in aectability” (2007, 134). This condition
is dened by Ferreira da Silva as that “of being subjected to both natural (in the scientic
and lay sense) conditions and to others’ power” (2007, XV). As Schuller’s reections
on Ferreira da Silva’s theory highlight, these two seemingly contradictory accounts
of racialisation could actually describe two temporally adjacent aspects of the same
process: what Ferreira da Silva calls “aectability” becomes, in fact, the precondition
for Schuller’s description of “unimpressibility” as the “lack” of “the self-constituting
capacity of autopoesis” which in nineteenth-century racial thought marked the racial-
ised person as “easily moved and yet unable to retain the eects of those movements”
(2018, 218, n.9). In line with this argument, Schuller also writes that “[a]ective capacity
depends on its denitional opposite, debility, for theoretical solidity” (2018,13); hence,
aect-ability relies on a normative outside to sustain and produce its internal eects.
For all these reasons, I argue that aect-ability has an inherently indeterminate
ontological character which is nevertheless tied to its actualisation in specic bio/
geopolitical elds; this necessitates an account of its constitutive exclusions, such as
the gure of debility mentioned by Schuller. The notion of “debility” has been greatly
discussed by theorist Jasbir K. Puar in The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability
(2017), where the term was attentively analysed “as a needed disruption (but also expose
it as a collaborator) of the category of disability and as a triangulation of the ability/
disability binary” (2017, XV) by foregrounding a biopolitical consideration on mass and
long-term debilitation of racialised bodies. In “Prognosis time: Towards a geopolitics of
aect, debility and capacity” (2009), Puar also denes debility as the opposite of aec-
tive capacity, where the latter is always in “steady tension, since bodies’ encounters with
“social, cultural, and capitalist infrastructures” often render aective capacity simulta-
neously “exploitative and exploited” (2009, 162). As aect-able bodies move – or don’t
move – within infrastructures which can capacitate as well as debilitate them, the same
reliance on aective capacity as a mode of resistance must be problematised, also in view
of what counts as a “political act” and/or “political space” in the rst place, as well as
how to establish an ethical account of aective hierarchies. Accordingly, I now turn to
the political and ethical implications of the notion of aect-ability in the thinking and
rethinking of care practices.
From Affect-ability to Resistant Practices of Care
By highlighting how “compulsory able-bodiedness” may generate exceptional-
ism-driven accounts of political subversion and resistance (Puar 2009, 165), Puar seems
to question, in a similar spirit as Johanna Hedva, Hannah Arendt’s understanding of the
political as “any action that is performed in public” (Hedva 2016, 2). As Hedva con-
tends, “if being present in public is what is required to be political, then whole swathes
of the population can be deemed a-political – simply because they are not physically
able to get their bodies into the street” (2016, 2). According to Hedva, it is precisely this
normative logic which erases the dierential in/accessibility of public spaces, especially
for those bodies made sick by “regimes of oppression – particularly our current regime
of neoliberal, white-supremacist, imperial-capitalist, cis-hetero-patriarchy” and thus
carry “the historical trauma of this” (Hedva 2016, 7). Therefore, the indeterminacy
inherent to “aect-ability” aims at reecting the ambivalence of embodiment in rela-
tion to power, where aective capacity and debility are always already co-present and
unequally modulated, and where the problematisation of agency, as identied by Hedva
for instance, can and should be accompanied by an account of the normative aspects
and eects of aect as ability. Furthermore, the recentring of aective experience allows
for a theorisation of politics as constituted by and through ordinary bodily enactments,
resisting and reproducing specic relations of power by virtue of their aect-ability.
This line of thought is indeed parallel to, and positioned within, a feminist tradition
which aims to destabilise the political by bringing forth daily experienced forms of
vulnerability – allegedly “private” “corpo-aective” (Górska 2016) events – as “not only
already political but as transforming our understandings of what counts as political”
(Cvetkovich 2012, 110). Drawing from feminist theory and activism, I would argue
that this troubling of what counts as a “political act” and “political space” enables a
critique of power which ties together its ontological, ethical, and political dimensions
via an analysis of how quotidian bodies come to aect and be aected by dierent sets
of forces. What kinds of relations are resisted and/or reproduced when we move from
an understanding of bodies as aect-able: that is, as inherently vulnerable but unequally
exposed to the workings of power?
Looking again at practices of care and mutual solidarity, they can be considered
forms of politics which do not reproduce but resist the status quo while, at the same time,
enabling for life in the present. Indeed, if liberal and neoliberal articulations of auton-
omy and dependency have catalysed the othering of reproduction through unequal
regimes of precarity and exploitation, counter-social reproduction radically refuses the
association of politics with the capacity to act independently in the public sphere. In
fact, the exclusion and debilitation of marginalised and oppressed bodies are resisted
through the creation of new political communities through solidarity. Thus, resistance
in this sense involves the simultaneous material and discursive interruption of capitalist
modes of reproduction and the reproduction of resistance itself. For this precise reason,
recentring an ontological dimension of vulnerability and relationality – enabled by
the conceptualisation of bodies as aect-able – troubles hegemonic understandings of
embodiment and performance of the political.
In Precarious Life, Judith Butler describes vulnerability as a condition which
socially constitutes our bodies as sites of exposure, publicity, and interdependency
(Butler 2004, 20). However, this condition is reected and actualised in unequal regimes
of security and protection (Butler 2004, 32). Therefore, thinking of bodies as inherently
vulnerable or, as I am suggesting, “aect-able”, cannot shy away from ethical consid-
erations of the unequal eects of vulnerability and exposure. Isabell Lorey similarly
discusses how the articulation of autonomy in European societies has brought about
the warding-o and othering of existential vulnerability, thus prioritising the security
of some bodies over and against others (2015). The radical implication generated here
and premised on every body’s interconnectedness calls for a formulation of ethics that
starts at the juncture between ontological vulnerability and its dierential aects in
capitalist regimes of precarity. As Lorey stated in a talk with Lauren Berlant, Judith
Butler, Bojana Cvejic´ , Isabell Lorey, Jasbir K. Puar, and Ana Vujanovic´ , “the ambivalence
between the relational dierence and the possibilities of what is in common in dier-
ence can be a starting point for political arguments” (2012, 172). In fact, the unequal
socio-economic regimes of capitalist societies create the very conditions in which
reproduction and production are hard to disentangle: exploited and oppressed bodies
are also less secure against the risks imposed by a possible “health crisis”. LevFem
Collective & Transnational Social Strike Platform, in their recent publication about
the struggles around social reproduction taking place during COVID-19 pandemic,
remarked that “women, migrants, workers, LGBTQI+” are the “people whose labor is
deemed essential, but whose lives are considered disposable” (2021, 10).
Counter-practices of care therefore require a fundamental response-ability, a
term coined by Donna Haraway (2008; 2016) to introduce a relational practice of
accountability for how and whose lives come to matter in an ecology that centres
creativity and the making of new relations in an aective encounter; in other words,
response-ability is the ability to respond to being aected. Haraway’s concept dis-
tances “ability” from its unreexive usage as a normative signier of successful capac-
ity and recast “the ability to respond is always-already embedded in incapacity – in
indierence and in-ability to engage”, as argued by Magdalena Górska (2016, 265).
This problematisation of the term “ability”, as I proposed from the start of this article,
is indeed inherent to the concept of aect-ability itself, since its aim is to account
for unequal geographies of aective capacity while fostering an ethical response to
them. Understood this way, the ability to respond accompanies aect-ability as an
ethical practice of learning to be aected, attending to our ontological relationality
and otherness, as well as accounting for hierarchical displacements and dierential
aections, ultimately creating careful cracks where resistant encounters can thrive.
Autonomous rearticulations of care, such as those enacted by social movements during
the pandemic, propose an actualisation of “autonomy” resistant to racial and patriarchal
imaginaries of freedom through external prescription and individual self-formation.
Reecting and respecting the ability of every body to aect and be aected, these
forms of care aim to make connections which enable dierent and response-able forms
of living. In the words of Isabelle Stengers, counter-social reproduction should be pre-
mised on “turning interdependency […] into an active constraint, a constraint that
activates feeling, thinking, and imagining” (2017, 398).
For these reasons, the many experiences of mutual aid and solidarity from
below practiced during the pandemic continue to foster relations, relationships, and
relationalities beyond those mandated and expected eects of crises that have been
taken for granted. Against this reactionary and conservative logic, these movements
rose from the margins in order to denaturalise the status quo which created and
enforced the very infrastructures that continue to privilege some bodies over others,
thus reproducing hierarchies of vulnerability. Counter-social reproduction therefore
holds tremendous radical potential in reshaping community through organisation and
socialisation outside capitalist circuits: solidarity groups, such as those born in Italy
and globally during the current pandemic, as well as those created long before this
pandemic to practice mutual care and sustainment within marginalised communities,
expose how an ordinary, accessible, and existential politics of care is inextricably
related to resisting hierarchical ontological and ethical categories. By proposing the
lens of aect-ability, I aim to explore how one way to think, imagine, and dream of a
responsive and response-able ontology, politics, and ethics of care can.
The political relevance of care has been of wide and profound discussion in
dierent scholarly elds and social movements, all of which have variously highlighted
the ambivalent natures, logics, motifs, and radical potentials of care (e.g., Fisher and
Tronto 1990; Precarias a la deriva 2006; Mol 2008; Puig de la Bellacasa 2017). My hope
throughout this article is to oer another tool to add to the kit which can be used
through collective thought and praxis around care. Aect-ability, as I have proposed
it here, hints at an ontological dimension of resistance which is inextricably linked
to an ethical response to the unequal political eects of vulnerability in community.
This precondition for, and process of understanding, care can be resistant to capital-
ist paradigms of social reproduction aimed at reproducing inequalities and systems
of dominance. Because the non-dualistic nature of reality prevents a rigid distinction
between these two paradigms of social reproduction and power relations, we can but
accept and embrace the thick complexity of embodied experiences and practices. The
indeterminacy inherent to the notion of aect-ability itself is thus well-suited to keep
these various dimensions and tensions together and alive, which in turn foreground
what an ethics and politics of care could look like under these ontological premises.
As aect-able bodies organise, cracks within the present status quo emerge,
exposing the resistant and careful politics of daily life.
1 Focusing on the effects of the COVID-19
pandemic in Italy, these have encompassed dramatic
increases in the levels of “absolute poverty” (at
record high considering the last fifteen years),
unemployment (only in the month of December
2020 occupation has fallen by more than 100,000
units, the 98% of which were job positions held
by women), and homelessness (the ending of
the moratorium of evictions imposed during
the first sixteen months of the pandemic will
result in around 10,000 evictions only in the
metropolitan area of Milan). See ISTAT, 2021, “Le
Statistiche dell’ISTAT Sulla Povertà. Anno 2020,
June 16,
REPORT_POVERTA_2020.pdf (last accessed:
28/08/2021); ISTAT, 2021, “Dicembre 2020.
Occupati e disoccupati. Dati provvisori, February
Occupati-e-disoccupati_dicembre_2020.pdf (last
accessed: 28/08/2021); Ministero dell’Interno,
2020, “Procedure di rilascio di immobili ad uso
abitativo (INT 00004), September 14, last modified:
uso_abitativo_int_00004-7734141.htm (last accessed:
31/08/2021), with reference to the data of 2020.
2See, for instance, CONSOB, “La crisi da
COVID-19: dalla crisi sanitaria alla crisi economica”
[author’s translation: “COVID-19 crisis: from health
crisis to financial crisis”], at
(last accessed: 26/08/2021). Notably, if the above-
mentioned consequences of the financial crisis
are considered as necessary consequences of the
pandemic, nonetheless, parallel discourses highlight
how this financial crisis is different, for example,
from the one of 2007-2008 as it is of “exogenous”
origin to the financial market (see, for instance,
Giuseppe Capuano [head of the Italian Ministry
of Economic Development], 2020, “Coronavirus,
crisi economiche a confronto” [author’s translation:
“Coronavirus: financial crises in comparison”],
March 8,
crisi-economiche-a-confronto/ [last accessed:
26/08/2021]). Hence, it could be argued the relation
of capitalist economic system with its “outside” is
differentially produced and posited when it comes to
determining the origins and effects of the “crises”.
3This theory is partly premised on the work
of feminists from the International Wages Against
Housework Committees in the ‘70s, highlighting
reproduction as a gender-specific site of both
oppression and exploitation with the function to
reproduce capitalist social and labour regimes (Dalla
Costa and James 1975; Federici 2012).
Bezanson, Kate and Meg Luxton. 2006. Social
Reproduction: Feminist Political Economy
Challenges Neo-Liberalism. Montréal: McGill-
Queen’s University Press.
Bhattacharya, Tithi. 2017. Social Reproduction Theory.
Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression.
London: Pluto Press.
Butler, Judith. 2004. Precarious Life: The Powers of
Mourning and Violence. London and New York:
Carastathis, Anna, Aila Spathopoulou, and Myrto
Tsilimpounidi. 2018. “Crisis, What Crisis?
Immigrants, Refugees, and Invisible Struggles.
Refuge 34 (1): 29-38.
Cvetkovich, Ann. 2012. Depression: A Public Feeling.
Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Dalla Costa, Mariarosa and Selma James. 1975.
The Power of Women and the Subversion of the
Community. Bristol: Falling Wall Press.
Deleuze, Gilles. 1988. Foucault. Translated by Seán
Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Despret, Vinciane. 2013. “From Secret Agents to
Interagency. History and Theory 52 (December):
Federici, Silvia. 2008. “Precarious Labor: A Feminist
Viewpoint. The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest,
In the Middle of a Whirlwind: Convention Protests,
Movement & Movements (2008): 1-9.
Federici, Silvia. 2012. Revolution at Point Zero:
Housework, Reproduction, And Feminist Struggle.
Brooklyn, NY: PM Press.
Ferreira da Silva, Denise. 2007. Toward a Global Idea
of Race. Minneapolis and London: University of
Minnesota Press.
Fisher, Berenice and Joan C. Tronto, 1990. “Toward
a Feminist Theory of Care. In Circles of Care:
Work and Identity in Women’s Lives, edited by
Emily K. Abel and Margaret K. Nelson, 36-54.
Albany: SUNY Press.
Górska, Magdalena. 2016. Breathing Matters: Feminist
Intersectional Politics of Vulnerability. Linköping:
Department of Thematic Studies, Linköping
Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, Encarnación. 2014. “The
Precarity of Feminisation: On Domestic Work,
Heteronormativity and the Coloniality of
Labour. International Journal of Politics, Culture
and Society 27, no. 2 (2014): 191-202.
Haraway, Donna. 2008. When Species Meet.
Minneapolis and London: University of
Minnesota Press.
Haraway, Donna. 2016. Staying with the Trouble.
Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham and
London: Duke University Press.
Hedva, Johanna. 2016. “Sick Woman Theory. Mask
Magazine. (Adapted from the lecture, “My Body
Is a Prison of Pain so I Want to Leave It Like a
Mystic But I Also Love It & Want It to Matter
Politically, delivered at Human Resources,
sponsored by the Women’s Center for Creative
Work, in Los Angeles, on October 7, 2015).
Hester, Helen. 2018. Xenofeminism. Cambridge:
Polity Press.
LevFem. 2021. Essential Struggles: Pandemic Fronts.
Sofia: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
4Contemporary actualisations of social
reproduction in the Global North have foreseen
partial reshufflings of Fordist models of
heteronormative domesticity. However, shifts in
socio-economic paradigms are also to be understood
in continuity with the perpetuation of structures
of dominance and oppression (Lorey 2015, 68-69).
Indeed, fragmentary and class-specific changes in the
“bread-winner” model are nonetheless accompanied
by a reinforcing of colonial lines of power in the
definition of regimes of precarity in the labour of
care (Gutiérrez-Rodríguez 2014). In fact, migration
regulations foster the production of internal/
external borders in a labour market greatly “supplied
by cheap migrant labour” from care and domestic
workers who are mostly excluded from “any social
benefits, unemployment and health insurance”
(Gutiérrez-Rodríguez 2014, 195). Thus, social
reproduction is still greatly articulated alongside
those lines of power which are structural to the
constitution of the capitalist system.
5For more comprehensive accounts of
experiences of solidarity across different countries
during the pandemic see also Sitrin and Colective
Sembrar (2020), and the abovementioned LevFem
Lorey, Isabell. 2015. State of Insecurity: Government
of the Precarious. Translated by Aileen Derieg.
London: Verso Futures.
Mezzadra Sandro and Neilson Brett. 2013. Border as
Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor. Durham,
NC: Duke University Press.
Mol, Annemarie. 2008. The Logic of Care Health
and the Problem of Patient Choice. London:
Precarias a la deriva. 2006. “A Very Careful Strike:
Four Hypotheses. The Commoner, no. 11
(Spring 2006): 33-45.
Puar, Jasbir K. 2009. “Prognosis Time: Towards a
Geopolitics of Affect, Debility and Capacity.
Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist
Theory 19 (2): 161-172.
Puar, Jasbir K. 2012. “Precarity Talk: A Virtual
Roundtable with Lauren Berlant, Judith Butler,
Bojana Cvejić, Isabell Lorey, Jasbir Puar, and
Ana Vujanović. Edited by Jasbir Puar. TDR/
The Drama Review 56, no. 4 (Winter 2012):
Puar, Jasbir K. 2017. The Right to Maim: Debility,
Capacity, Disability. Durham and London: Duke
University Press.
Puig de la Bellacasa, María 2017. Matters of Care:
Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Schuller, Kyla. 2018. The Biopolitics of Feeling. Race,
Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century.
Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Sitrin, Martina and Colectiva Sembrar. 2020.
Pandemic Solidarity: Mutual Aid during the
Covid-19 Crisis. Edited by Marina Sitrin and
Colectiva Sembrar. London: Pluto Press.
Stengers, Isabelle. 2017. “Autonomy and the
Intrusion of Gaia. The South Atlantic Quarterly
116, no.2 (April): 381-400.
Vogel, Lise. 2013. Marxism and the Oppression of
Women: Toward a Unitary Theory. Leiden: Brill.
Ludovica D’Alessandro is a PhD student at the
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Her philosophical
and artistic research focuses on the biopolitics of
vulnerability, affective relationalities, and critical
care practices. Her current project is specifically
concerned with afflictions in bowel movements as
related to trauma, psychosomatics, and sexuality.
Her e-mail address is ludovica.dalessandro@student.