Abjection and Abstraction: An Interview with Maya Gonzalez and Jeanne Neton

Maya Andrea Gonzalez is a PhD candidate in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz working on social reproduction theory. She is also a participant in the Endnotes collective.


Jeanne Neton lives in Berlin and, when not earning a living (currently as a software developer), takes part in social movements, engages in political research and writes articles (in particular about gender and social struggles) as part of various collectives, including Endnotes.

Maya Andrea Gonzalez is a PhD candidate in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz working on social reproduction theory. She is also a participant in the Endnotes collective.

Jeanne Neton lives in Berlin and, when not earning a living (currently as a software developer), takes part in social movements, engages in political research and writes articles (in particular about gender and social struggles) as part of various collectives, including Endnotes.

This interview was conducted via email by Tani Barlow.

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TB: Your “The Logic of Gender: On the Separation of Spheres and the Process of Abjection” has been widely influential among feminist and Marxist-feminists. Could you talk a bit about how you came to write it, the intellectual projects that pulled you into your current work.

G&N:  We started to work on “The Logic of Gender” at the end of 2011. Within the small Marxist milieu we were in, which came to be known as the “communisation current,” gender had rarely been a topic of discussion. And it still seemed like, within this circle that was heavily influenced by the Ultra-Left— even while distancing itself from it – the subject of gender was deemed unsuitable for Marxist theory, if not a distraction from the real questions of class, the economy etc. This changed when the French group Théorie Communiste (TC), who were very influential in this milieu, published the text “Gender Distinction, Programmatism and Communisation” in 2010. Despite being highly controversial, it brought the question of gender to the center of debates, establishing it as a prerequisite to understanding anything about the capitalist mode of production and its laws of motion. For the two of us, as people who were socialized as women (a tiny minority in this milieu at the time) this was a relief. Even if we had disagreements with the text, it made the initial step of bringing gender to the foreground of theoretical discussion within our communist circle.

For us, however, there was something problematic about the theorization of gender proposed by TC. It posited the existence of “two contradictions:” one contradiction was thought to exist between the opposing poles of the proletariat and capital, whilst the other contradiction counterposed the categories of man against woman. In TCs estimation, class (the first contradiction) and gender (the second contradiction) were analyzed in their transhistorical character because the relation between the two contradictions was located in a past mode of production, prior to capitalism. For us, this was deeply unsatisfying since we understood the gendered division of labor under capitalism – even that which exists beyond the market – to be distinct from that of any other mode of production. We felt that we could transform the framework of debate by shifting its parameters to the historically specific form of reproduction under capitalism, which is itself contradictory, and has been theorized within Marx’s critique of political economy in Capital.

Our text “The Logic of Gender” is also the result of a collective theoretical development within Endnotes, as its writing was preceded by a year of regular meetings around the question of gender in which all members actively participated: the two of us and four men. If these (sometimes good, sometimes impolite, often both) conversations did not lead at first to a consensus on our understanding of gender, they were very helpful for us in understanding the problems and limits of current communist theoretical analyses of gender and the pitfalls we wanted to avoid in our own theory. In the process of reaching its final form, the article was the center of many arguments and disagreements within Endnotes, which looking back, clearly contributed to make it a richer and more rigorous text.

During this preliminary period of research, readings and discussions, we explored the work of central Marxist feminists such as Fortunati, Dalla Costa, Federici, but also wanted to look beyond to learn from the insights of feminists such as Butler and Kristeva. We did extensive historical research around the transformation of gender relations within the capitalism mode of production, and for example found great material for inspiration in the work of Wally Seccombe.

TB:   I noticed that in Endnotes your essay appears in Japanese and Chinese translation. This is rare. Can you explain how you became internationally connected to Marxist feminists in these language reading areas? Do you have ongoing relationships with theorists in those communities?

G&N:  At the time of writing the article, we already had contacts with people in China who were also part of the communisation current and were publishing the journal Chuang, a “collective of communists who consider the ‘China question’ to be of central relevance to the contradictions of the world’s economic system and the potentials for its overcoming.” (Chuang Journal Issue 1, the sicjournal.org website http://sicjournal.org/issue-1-of-chuang-journal-released/). They offered to translate “The Logic of Gender” into Chinese and invited us to present the text in Guangzhou and Hong Kong in October 2018. One of us was going to present the text there but unfortunately was diagnosed with breast cancer a week before (Notes from the Chemo Room in Endnotes 5. (https://endnotes.org.uk/file_hosting/EN5_Notes_from_the_Chemo_Room.pdf) and could not make it to China. Another participant in Endnotes was able to present the text in our stead and had a very fruitful discussion both in Guangzhou and Hong Kong with activists and feminists, where the usefulness of the concepts we develop in “The Logic of Gender” was discussed in the Chinese context and at the global level. This participant reported back to us about their discussion and about current feminist debates in China at the time – as well as about the violent repression of Chinese feminists that had taken place a few years before, such as the arrest of the Feminist Five, but more generally strikes and social movements.

TB:  Our readers are largely “Asianists” or people who are thinking through questions outside Europe and the US, including recent nation states, like the People’s Republic of China and India. Scholar Andrew Liu, for instance, has just drawn on Banaji, for instance, and how he rethinks commercial capital in parts of Asia. That said, the distinctions you draw – patriarchy as a feature historically specific to capitalism, the transformations of patriarchy in relation to structural positions within capitalist totalities, for instance – strike me to be useful to “clarify, transform, and redefine the categories we received from Marxist feminism” but also are sufficiently capacious that Asianists will find them usable, adaptable, significant. Can you elaborate on these ideas?

G&N:  When we set out to write “The Logic of Gender,” we hoped that our categories would be capacious enough for anyone with a rudimentary grasp of Marx’s critique of political economy. Admittedly the periodization we deploy in part five of “The Logic of Gender” is specific to the Western world in many ways, but the dynamics that have shaped gender elsewhere, and in Asia in particular, show that reproductive activities face similar processes of absorption and expulsion from what we call the “directly market-mediated sphere.” These phases of social integration followed by “abjection,” do not have the same historical point of departure in every region of Asia. China, for instance, did not experience housewifization and the naturalization of reproductive activities within the “indirectly market-mediated sphere” followed by a period of socialization.  Rather, these processes moved in the opposite direction due to the peculiar form of socialist modernization that took place.

According to comparative OECD estimates, however, women in China do nearly three-fourths of all unpaid household activities each day (72%). (“Employment: Time spent in paid and unpaid work, by sex” OEDC.stat. 12, Aug 2021, https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?QueryId=54757). This means that, to whatever extent the socialization of reproduction took place, it did not equalize the gendered division of labor outside of the workplace.  Today, one can observe something like housewifization occurring for the first time in modern China, despite its having the largest number of women in the workforce in Asia. In fact, gender theorist Emiko Ochiai has termed this phenomenon “rehousewifization” because older patriarchal kinship structures have been reactivated even if they now take a new form. (Emiko Ochiai. “The Logics of Gender Construction in Asian Modernities.” Routledge Handbook of East Asian Gender Studies. Routledge Handbooks Online, 2019.) Currently more and more women who are overworked in both spheres are dropping out of waged-work in order to engage in reproduction full-time. Moreover, this double burden that exists already in China shows similarities with the situation in the West, since a marked increase in labor-force participation, or “de-housewifization,” occurred in the latter half of the 20th century.

As you can see, there is an opposite historical movement across spheres in China, but a structural separation remains nonetheless. Despite cases where modernization took place through socialization, what we observe is that there is still a gendered remainder of unwaged activities, similar to that of market dominated western countries.  While there are many differences, none of which can be traced back to a single origin, there is still something universal we seek to identify which is more or less a separation and gendering of unwaged activity under capitalism into a sphere indirectly mediated by the market, or state.  Although we do not profess to have any expertise in the matter, we think it would be possible to elucidate some of our categories with respect to the logic of gender in Asia by considering various resonances and discontinuities across Asian countries and between Asia, Europe and North America. In attempting this we found the article of Emiko Ochai entitled “The Logics of Gender Construction in Asian Modernities” particularly helpful.  (The title attracted us in its use of the plural, “logics,” where we had only used the singular.) According to Ochiai, the concept of the modern family including the “separation of the domestic and public spheres”, and “a gender-based division of labor, with the public sphere assigned to men and the domestic sphere to women” must be historically relativized and deconstructed in order to understand gender transformations in modern Asia. (Ochai, “The Logics of Gender Construction”)

Ochiai notes that China began modernizing within a context in which patrilineal kinship structures specific to that region were already embedded, while non-patriarchal or patrilineal structures can be observed elsewhere in East Asia which are more “bilateral.” Interestingly, the particular regions with “a bilateral kinship structure… also have higher female labor-force participation, and those with patrilineality… have lower participation” — with the exception of China which experienced the socialization of female labor-power most extensively. (Emiko Ochai, 25). One example of a bilateral style of kinship and consistent female labor-market participation is Thailand, as Hashimoto (Seki) Hiroko demonstrates in the article “Housewifization And Changes in Women’s Life Course In Bangkok.” (in Emiko Ochiai and Barbara Molony, eds., Asia’s New Mothers, Crafting gender roles and childcare networks in East and Southeast Asian societies, 2008.) She calls the traditional form of the family in Thailand the “network-family”: a family structure in which childcare is predominantly done by relatives and not by the direct parents. She explains that the relatively modern introduction of the idea of the housewife in Thai society is particularly middle class and pertains to specific families in and around Bangkok for whom a high level of education is expected of their children. Seeing their children access university degrees is the main incentive for (often highly educated) women to become housewives – that is, in order to contribute directly to the education of their own children at an early age. Otherwise, housewifization would be historically exceptional in Thailand since the bilateral, network family structure prevailed.

In short, we recognize that there is no “traditional” Asian housewife because the sexual division of labor was never universally patriarchal and there are different forms of modernization that have occurred. Of course, the way in which various forms of patriarchy transform into a system which reproduces capitalism is a historical question, not the consequence of a logically unfolding conceptual system. Our argument is therefore not that there is a given one-way logic that absorbs all gendered – non-value producing – activities into the indirectly market-mediated sphere. Rather we can see a complex, elastic movement of contraction and extension that takes place in parallel to the integration and rejection of proletarian reproduction from the formal reproduction of capital. These complex movements are noticeable in Asia as much as in Europe and in the US, even if the timing of their phases and their specificities are different.  But those processes, and the acceleration of the oscillation between their recurring phases, do not leave intact the content of gendered activities and the relation between those who are assigned these activities, within these spheres. This is particularly apparent in the case of those who experience several of these oscillations within their lifetime, if they are assigned to naturalized activity which becomes denaturalized through its integration, socialization or rejection from the market.

We can see this for example during the pandemic, where the responsibility of activities such as schooling brutally fell on parents, and in most of the cases disproportionately upon mothers. The rapidity of this change was such that a subjective acceptance of a new naturalization of those activities is unlikely to be easily accepted. This is what we want to grasp with the concept of the abject, which is both a description of a dynamic within a gendered division of labor and a subjective relation to this dynamic.

TB:  David Harvey’s short volume A Brief History of Neoliberalism became a classic among some Asianists in part because the work focused attention on globalization of the U.S. and the PRC. As you were thinking through changes that begin in the 1970s did you factor in his notion of neoliberalization and “gender” to reinforce your insights into real subsumption and the commodification of IMM activities and the rise of the abject?

G&N:  The short answer is no. David Harvey was not a key inspiration for the periodization you find in “The Logic of Gender,” even though we have read many of his books, and in particular The New Imperialism, with a lot of interest because he often provides fascinating empirical content.  In general, the “French Regulation School” approach interests us greatly even though we find it problematic.  This is because we are more interested in the longue durée of capitalist development – emphasizing the continuity of social forms— rather than periodizing capitalism as mutually-exclusive and unnecessarily political “regimes of accumulation.”  For us, the Regulationist Nancy Fraser is perhaps more useful than David Harvey, even though like Harvey, she considers the Keynesian welfare-state to be a possible refuge from Neoliberal catastrophe, and we do not.

The truth is that any discussion of neoliberalism would be incomplete without first examining the transformations that have occurred within proletarian reproduction over the course of the past several centuries. This history is marked by a structural separation between the production of goods and services for the market, on the one hand, and the reproduction of labor power on the other. At the same time that the entire earth was subsumed under capitalist relations of production, the domination of the value-form relegated a remainder of necessary activities–those which are required to replenish the labor force–into an “indirectly market-mediated sphere,” spatially and temporally peripheral to the production and exchange of value.  The separation of the direct and indirectly market-mediated spheres is a formal process that becomes a concrete reality in the “‘Fordist” period of capitalist development, though it structurally preexists it.

This structural separation follows two historical trajectories in its eventual concretion. The first trajectory is that of industrialization, coincident with “real subsumption” and the intensification of production within the frame of shorter, temporally distinct working days – distinct from the temporality of reproduction –and located at large consolidated industrial worksites (factories, mines, etc), spatially distanced from proletarian living quarters.  This spatial and temporal separation was not complete in the initial, extensive phase of capitalism under formal subsumption, in which productive work was often done domestically and when the entire family toiled for very long hours. Eventually, however, when domestic production was curtailed and craft methods were replaced by linear flow processes inside large-scale factories, constant and uninterrupted work-paces became the norm. Although workers historically win shorter hours and children are no longer forced to toil, capital succeeds in imposing a far more intense working-day, and this intensity heightens the concrete distinction between productive labor done for the market and “unpaid” reproductive work done in the home. It fortifies the gendered division of labor at the same time.

In fact, the intensity of the production process and the fact that production moves away from the home makes multitasking and the moving back and forth between reproductive and productive activities, in particular, virtually impossible. Thus, over time, the spaces and temporalities of wage-labor and reproduction become distinct and divided between the factory and the home — where in the latter, reproduction is increasingly isolated from the production and exchange of values, but also is naturalized when compared to the temporality of the factory. As part and parcel of this naturalization, mothers rather than fathers are given the social responsibility for infant and child care without getting the social recognition of the wage in exchange for that service.  This is in part because, in addition to the spatial and temporal separation of “work and life,” there is a significant transformation within the wage-form, in which the monetization and individualization of the wage gives rise to full-blown wage fetishism.

In the past when workers were paid in kind, they could see a relationship between their household reproduction and what they apparently “earned.”  Wages in the form of foodstuffs, for instance, might appear exactly as they are: fuel for the reproduction of workers. When the wage becomes monetized, however, and when it becomes individualized under contract, the gendered division of labor within the home is consequently restructured according to a masculinized fetishization of the workday. The wage becomes the form that demarcates masculinized “work” from feminized “life” — ideologically mapping upon what is supposedly “paid for” and what is apparently not.

Of course, according to Marx, no labor is actually “paid for” by the wage. Nevertheless, the individual payment of monetary wages – to breadwinners, for example – suddenly appears to be an equivalent for their skill and effort in production, further valorizing their activity over that of the household. Due to the fetishization of the wage, the reproduction of labor power appears formally outside of the capital and labor relation–pertaining instead to a time and space of leisure and consumption– removed from both the formal workplace and the formal labor market. Hence, the reproduction of the commodity labor-power can be understood as that which is mediated, indirectly, by the market exchange between individual owners of labor-power and money. Furthermore, the wage fetish reproduces the structural separation between spheres even as women move into the labor market. As we move towards neoliberalism, the formerly unwaged reproductive activities done in the home become increasingly market-mediated and privatized – especially as women enter the labor market as individual sellers of their labor-power and therefore as individual owners of their own wages. But this commodification of reproduction does not eclipse “the indirectly market-mediated sphere.” Since the cost of reproductive services amounts to a hefty deduction from wages, that most proletarian households cannot afford, there is always a remainder of unwaged activity pushed from richer households onto poorer ones. Thus, a remainder of reproductive activity remains unwaged even though it may shift across income differentials, borders and even oceans. Even when reproductive services become market-mediated and “paid” throughout the world, the reproduction of higher-paid proletarian labor-power is transferred to those who remain lower-paid or unpaid. (An important study and analysis of this transfer of reproductive activities on poorer women via globalization and how this affects the life of migrant domestic workers can be found in Bridget Anderson, Doing the Dirty Work?: The Global Politics of Domestic Labor, Zed Books, 2000). 

Moreover, there is a transfer of leisure time between middle-class and low-waged proletarians, feminizing low-waged service employees whose time is “uberized” and sold to those who can afford to buy leisure as a commodity. Often however, the transferring of reproduction onto the backs of other proletarians is the best option for working-class mothers who are themselves “time poor” from serving the market. To borrow Nancy Fraser’s popular phrasing, we can follow the “international transfer of caregiving” as expanding the indirectly market-mediated sphere throughout the “international division of reproductive labor.” As she and others have pointed out, this so-called “care gap” has often been filled by migrant women from the poorest countries. And to do this Fraser argues, “the migrants must transfer their own familial and community responsibilities to other, still poorer caregivers, who must in turn do the same–and on and on, in ever longer ‘global care chains.’” Rather than filling the care gap, “the net effect is to displace it from richer to poorer families, from the Global North to the Global South.” (Fraser, Nancy. “Crisis of Care? On the Social-Reproductive Contradictions of Contemporary Capitalism.” Social Reproduction, 9).    

Fraser’s argument about neoliberalism is consistent with “The Logic of Gender” argument that a remainder of the world’s reproduction always exceeds the market, the state and the wage and falling ultimately upon the poorest women in the world. We argue, however, that this is the result of a structural lack in aggregate wages compared to the totality of “necessary labor,” which in fact equates to a surplus of unremunerated activity necessary to the global reproduction of labor-power, beyond the total sum of services provided by the market and the state.  

Our discussion of what we call “the abject” is in part a consideration of the elasticity of the “indirectly market-mediated sphere” — its expansion and contraction in relation to the market and the state, especially under neoliberalism. Under neoliberalism, not only is the reproduction of labor-power increasingly privatized, it is also pushed back into the home as the public sector recedes. Thus, “abjection” is another way of comprehending the historical dynamic of socialization and de-socialization, which links the fate of current and former socialist countries with those of western neoliberal states. In the course of any states’ transition to a free market economy–when public facilities are closed because the period of socialization is over–there is a similar turn towards family values seen under neoliberalism as well as the reinstatement of traditional gendered roles. In post-socialist settings, de-socialized activities become “abject” and are then re-naturalized within the household, precisely because the family is one of the only remaining social institutions.

Likewise, we can look at the effects of economic sanctions on households through the lens of abjection, since the restrictions they place on goods going into the reproduction of labor-power increases any necessary labor required to make them “from scratch.” As Nazanin Shahrokni has demonstrated in her study, “Bursting at the Seams: Economic Sanctions and Transformation of the Domestic Sphere in Iran, 10”, the indirectly market-mediated sphere is impacted by sudden limitations placed on consumption, increasing the time and energy required for the same amount of reproduction to take place. There is a net increase in household activities that in turn denaturalizes reproduction, at least in part, contributing to the growing disenchantment that people have with the expensive and time-consuming prospect of married life. According to Nancy Fraser, structural crises ignite “boundary struggles” over that which delimits the separation between production and reproduction, work and family life. (Fraser, Nancy. “Crisis of Care?,” 25.)

Again, this is similar to the way in which we conceptualize abjection. Today for instance, we are in an economic crisis that can be said to have been experienced globally as “the process of abjection.” While the COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled the scarcity and decrepitude of many national healthcare and public welfare systems throughout the world, the contradictions underlying it remain largely submerged within the gendered sphere. Neoliberal countries have quietly spirited away an enormous extra care and housework burden produced through the net increase of necessary labor required to survive the pandemic by confining it to the indirectly market-mediated sphere – which itself has expanded rapidly under Covid and has revealed that any surplus reproduction displaced onto the home is more often than not picked-up by women (Titan Alon, Matthias Doepke, Jane Olmstead-Rumsey, and Michèle Tertilt. “The Impact of Covid-19 on Gender Equality.” NBER Working Paper No. 2694, National Bureau of Economic Research, April 2020, https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w26947/w26947.pdf)

Yet, some economists who have analyzed this pandemic have also pointed out that not only is there a disproportionate loss in women’s employment (since women assume the majority of service sector positions) but that the other cause of global “she-cession,” is related to a dramatic increase in indirectly market-mediated activities, especially for parents with young children. After lockdowns involving the closures of daycares and schools, as children had to be minded and even educated from the home, at least twenty additional hours of housework have been unloaded on households each week.  This gave parents often no choice but to limit their paid employment. (On the relation between the rise of the abject and conflicts between parents during the pandemic, see the article: Homeschooling during COVID-19: Gender Differences in Work-Family Conflict and Alcohol Use Behaviour among Romantic Couples). In the case of “remote-learning”, we saw the component of education that is in fact socialized childcare become “abject” as it was foisted onto the unwaged, indirectly market-mediated sphere of the home where women were more likely to be its new managers. Consequently, many more mothers–much more so than their male counterparts–were forced to reduce hours or drop out of the workforce altogether because schools shut down and they could no longer purchase commodified childcare or rely upon elder members of the community for support.

Apparently, fathers (who were studied) were generally able to maintain boundaries between work and leisure, while increasing their childcare loads less significantly. Mothers, on the other hand, experienced the full brunt of the process of abjection, likely contributing to the dramatic increase we see in domestic violence. One can only hope that in the aftermath of COVID-19, this extreme denaturalization of reproduction–followed by forced attempts to renaturalize it–may have triggered the desire for some other organization of work, life and care.

At any rate, irrespective of the causes of joblessness amongst women, gender inequality in the labor market was already the outcome of an unequal division of responsibilities within the process of reproduction. Prior to the pandemic, women were responsible for significantly more unpaid care and domestic work compared to men–even if both were employed full-time. Globally, this distribution is even starker. Now with the Covid-19 disaster, resulting in an even more unequal distribution of reproductive workshare, an enormous abjection of housework and carework has tested the elasticity of the old separation of spheres. In other words, with the rise of remote-working and remote-learning, we see the sudden superimposition of the directly market-mediated sphere upon the household, and a new separation of production and reproduction within a single space and time. For many working mothers during phases of Covid lockdown, this superimposition of spheres took the form of an obligation to constantly multitask, and more specifically, to accomplish activities in both waged and unwaged spheres at one and the same space and time.

The psychological cost of such a quasi-simultaneity of activities (which is in fact a constant switching between them) is well documented, and recent studies about the impact of home-schooling on working mothers’ well-being show similar negative effects (For multitasking, parents and well-being during Covid crisis, see https://press.princeton.edu/ideas/multitasking-and-the-pandemic-parent).  Due to this superimposition, the boundaries between both spheres get increasingly blurred but do not disappear. In the directly market mediated sphere, a decrease in productivity is often the consequence of this blurring of boundaries. Studies have shown that working mothers having to take responsibility for home-schooling often ended up reducing their hours of waged labor, not being able to cope in the long run with the stress resulting from this obligation to constantly switch roles – between parent and worker (and caring partner) (Caitlyn Collins, Liana Christin Landivar, Leah Ruppanner, William J. Scarborough, “COVID-19 and the gender gap in work hours,” https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gwao.12506). This sudden and enormous increase of “the abject” during the current crisis and its reimposition on certain specifically gendered individuals labelled as being “better at multitasking” will have deep consequences on the development of gender relations worldwide and this is something we both want to study further in the next months/years. (On the myth of women being better multitasker, https://www.sciencealert.com/women-aren-t-better-multitaskers-than-men-they-re-just-doing-more-work)

TB:   In your discussion of “the gendered sphere” (ie “What remains are the activities that are non-waged . . . . the non-social of the social, the non labor of labor”) you analytically transform categories to resituate the large-scale dynamic before you introduce individual people who work in “the gendered sphere.” This is a substantial alteration of so-called gender theory. Can you talk about how you arrived at your decision to do this work of deconstruction and displacement?

G&N:  In terms of our methodological considerations, we had hoped to begin from the outset without any presuppositions, especially not the existence of fixed categories of men and women. Indeed, starting with such a binary from the outset would have implied the naturalization of these categories, while the conclusion of our researches were clearly pointing to the fact that this binary itself, in addition to its content, is socially constructed. To avoid such a naturalization, we decided to use the method of presentation/exposition proposed by Marx in the introduction to the Grundrisse, that is: to start with the most abstract categories and move progressively towards the concrete implications of the contradictions within these categories, as, thanks to this method largely used in Capital, things – and we wanted to add, people – usually turn out not to be quite what they appear to be. When we finally come to the relation between gender and capital, it quickly appears that the category of labor-power is able to play the role of this most abstract moment. As a result, we were able to demonstrate that the reproduction of labor-power was even more peculiar than Marx initially described, insofar as the totality of activities required to reproduce it is – mysteriously – beyond the direct process of production and circulation.

It was all the more mysterious when we realized that this fact had nothing to do with the concrete character of these activities per se, but rather that reproduction as such depended mostly upon the direct relationship concrete activities had to the social form of production. This distinction separated into mutually-constitutive spheres either directly or indirectly mediated by the market, the social forms of value and then wages. In the text we designate these as directly market-mediated and indirectly market-mediated spheres (DMMS and IMMS). We decided to call them this because we wanted them to signify their social relationship to capitalist value production and circulation as precisely as possible without appearing to exist outside of capitalism in another vestigial mode of reproduction.  For us, it was only after posing the necessity of the separation of spheres of activities for the capitalist mode of production on the basis of their determination by the social and historical form of labor, that we could move on to see to whom, historically, these were assigned or who was designated to perform this activity without reference to “biological destiny” or gender assignment, but rather how individuals were constituted, re-constituted as feminine or masculine based upon the gender that the activities were socially deemed.

TB:   What are you working on now?

G&N: We are currently working on the next issue of Endnotes with the other participants in the journal. We want this issue to be focused on an analysis of the struggles of the recent years, such as the George Floyd movement, the Chilean protests in 2019-2020, but also movements such as the Yellow Vests in France, that have often been criticized for containing a populist aspect. We want to look more closely at the movements that have received such accusations, and others that are generally entirely dismissed in the media such as the “Querdenker” movement in Germany, to understand what they tell us about the current situation and the present possibilities (or obstacles) they might mean for a communist revolution. We would also like to continue our research about the impact of Covid measures on the gender relation worldwide. There are plenty of fascinating studies being published about this and we want to continue exploring these changes as they are likely to leave a lasting mark on the relation between gendered individuals in society and in particular on the scope and content of the abject as some will have experienced first-hand for the last one and a half years.