Reproductive Racism

Reproductive Racism

Migration, Birth Control and The Specter of Population

By Susanne Schultz

Anthem Studies in Decoloniality and Migration

The book analyses how demographic knowledge production and states’ grip to the variable of population intertwine. It introduces the concept of the Malthusian matrix in order to understand how class-selective and racist hierarchies within population narratives are combined with gendered policies of reproductive bodies and behaviours.

EPUB, 228 Pages


July 2023

£25.00, $35.00

PDF, 228 Pages


July 2023

£25.00, $35.00

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About This Book

Population is a dangerous political category. It is not separable from the racist and class-based valorisation and devaluation of different lives. From contraceptive implant programmes for the Global South to right wing anti-immigration discourses, demographic interpretations of multiple global and local crises legitimise the states' grip on childbearing and mobility. The results are various dimensions of reproductive racism and restrictive border regimes. Meanwhile, global social inequalities and racial capitalist extractivism stay out of the game. 

The book explores how demographic knowledge production and states’ grip to the variable of population intertwine. It introduces the concept of a Malthusian matrix in order to understand how class-selective and racist hierarchies within population narratives are combined with gendered policies of reproductive bodies and behaviours. Another chapter unfolds the invisible assumptions underlying demographic projections, as these future narratives support powerful strategies of domination in the presence. 

Through the book various current dimensions of reproductive racism are demonstrated, distinguishing between the birth of desirable and undesirable people: an upward redistributive family policy in Germany is promoting births within the privileged middle classes. And international population programs revive targets in order to increase the use of long-acting contraceptives in the Global South, within a market-oriented setting of Big Pharma promotion. Reproductive racism is also effective in migration policy strategies: narratives about "migrant birth rates" circulate in ultra-right forces as well as among seemingly apolitical demographic policy consultancy. 

Finally, the book also reflects on the role of statehood in contested demographic politics and what theoretical instruments are needed in order to attack the demographic power-knowledge complex. The epilogue refers to the intersectional feminist concept of reproductive justice as an important tool and framework for anti-Malthusian resistance and alliances.


“This book makes a compelling case for the centrality of population policies and ideologies to ra-cism, coloniality and global capitalism. Crucially, it demonstrates how the openly Malthusian agen-das of today’s ascendant far-right are inextricable from a long and complex history of neoliberal populationism. Yet the book also offers reasons to hope, through listening to feminist activists in Brazil who are reimagining concepts of reproductive justice”—Kalpana Wilson, Department of Geography, Birkbeck, University of London.

“Susanne Schultz brings to light the processes through which statistic and demographic rationalities have become central to government policymaking in Germany and beyond. This illuminating case exemplifies how population knowledge, racism, border policy and family planning are deeply entangled—and how they structure local, transnational and ultimately global political systems” — Jade S. Sasser, PhD, Associate Professor, Gender & Sexuality Studies, University of California, Riverside.

“Drawing on extensive empirical fieldwork and a rich theoretical apparatus, Susanne Schultz follows the manifold trajectories of demographic rationalities, investigating how they inform governmental strategies and intersect with matters of race, gender and class. Reproductive Racism: Migration, Birth Control and The Specter of Population is not only an essential contribution to critical state theory but also offers important insights into how to question and oppose practices of demographization” —Thomas Lemke, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main.

“This timely book reveals the dangerous reach of reproductive racism. Schultz carefully analyzes how it distorts reproductive politics, migration policies and projections of population aging. Drawing from feminist praxis, she counters reproductive racism with reproductive justice articulations of hope and struggle"—Anne Hendrixson, Senior Policy Analyst, Challenging Population Control, Collective Power for Reproductive Justice.

In this exceptional book, Susanne Schultz offers an unsparing analysis of the specter of population, and how it shapes conjunctures of nationalism, reproductive racism, migration, and border regimes, as a method of neoliberal capitalism. This is an invaluable call against and beyond the logics of population, for anyone struggling towards building local and global eco-feminist, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist futures —Vanessa E. Thompson, Assistant Professor, Distinguished Professor in Black Studies and Social Justice, Department of Gender Studies, Queen’s University, Canada 

Author Information

Susanne Schultz is a private university lecturer at the Institute of Sociology/Goethe University Frankfurt. She is a member of the queer-feminist editors collective Kitchen Politics and researches on bio- and necropolitics, population policies and reproductive relations. 

Daniel Bendix is a professor for global development at Friedensau Adventist University and author of Global Development and Colonial Power. German Development Policy at Home and Abroad (2018). He is active with the transnational network Afrique-Europe-Interact.


Anthem Studies in Decoloniality and Migration

Table of Contents

Introduction; Acknowledgments; Part I Blaming ‘Population’ for Multiple Crises; 1.Exploring the Multidimensional Concept of Demographization: The Case of Germany; Part II Projecting Migration: Dangerous Statistical Narratives; 2.Demographic Futurity: On the Power of Statistical Assumption Politics; 3.‘Too High’ or ‘Too Low’? Segregated Migrants’ Birth Rates as Common Ground for Völkisch and Utilitarian Nationalisms; Part III Averting Births: Political Economy and Statehood; 4.Transnational Antinatalism : Simplistic Narratives and Big Pharma Interests 99 in Collaboration with Daniel Bendix; 5.Theorizing processes of NGOization and the State :The Case of the Cairo Consensus; Part IV Resisting: Reproductive Justice; 6.Intersectional Convivialities : Brazilian Black and Popular Feminist Approaches to the Justiça Reprodutiva Framework; Epilogue: Opposing the Malthusian Matrix; Notes on Author and Collaborator; Index


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