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Bridges, Khiara M. “Quasi-Colonial Bodies: An Analysis of the Reproductive Lives of Poor Black and Racially Subjugated Women.” Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 18, no. 2 (2009): 609–46.


In this article, Bridges examines the “relationship of capitalism, reproductive injustice, and racial inequality.” (646) She argues that poor black women’s fertility is problematized and should be understood as contempt for their reproductive rights. Ultimately, she argues that the struggle for Black women’s reproductive rights is part of a larger struggle for racial equality. However, Bridges extends the concept of race and coins what she calls “racially subjugated women,” which includes the “phenotypical Black women as well as unprivileged women of all races.” (614) Through a lens of postcolonial theory, Eva Cherniavsky’s analysis of racial embodiment in capitalist economic systems, she defines colonies as “sites where contradictory economic systems collide and coexist,” (615) which explains how racialized differences are triggered by an overlapping of economic systems. When Bridges applies this analysis to Alpha hospital in New York, which serves poor women on PCAP or TANF, she describes this hospital as a “quasi-colony.” She labels the hospital as such because PCAP programs lie outside the logic of capitalism, due to being government-subsidized. Thus, Bridges argues that programs such as PCAP and TANF do to poor women what classic colonization did to its subjects: exploit them without bestowing equality upon them. Bridges offers an interesting perspective on racial inequality and the realization of Black women’s reproductive rights through a capitalist lens. The article is extremely dense conceptually. Her discussion involves a multidisciplinary perspective from anthropological, sulbaltern studies, and theories of the body and embodiment on race and reproduction. Pages 609-616 provide a brief overview of her argument, while the remainder of the article builds on this. This article is recommended for individuals interested in the relationship between economic systems and the realization of reproductive rights for poor women and women of color.


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Legislation/policy   Government regulation   Race/ethnicity: African American/Black