Amanda Watson awarded SSHRC Insight Development Grant to research the BirthStrike Movement in response to climate crisis in the United Kingdom and Canada

August 19, 2020

The department of Sociology and Anthropology is pleased to congratulate Amanda Watson in  her successful Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant (SSHRC IDG) application for the project, “The Politics of the BirthStrike Movement.” 

BirthStrike is a worldwide movement of people who have decided not to have children due to growing concerns about climate change and the escalation of the climate crisis. BirthStrikers self-identify as being from " all identities from around the globe” and “inclusive of all capacities to conceive, parents and those who are childfree, all genders and identities.” As Watson has observed, they’re “protesting their relative lack of power to halt climate change with respect to major state organizations.”

Despite this diverse self-identification, she points out, the movement “is mainly represented in media by young, able-bodied, ciswomen in the global North whose strategy hinges on assumed control over their own reproduction at a time when reproductive justice is not afforded everyone.”

Watson says her interest in exploring this problem was piqued after hearing British BirthStrike activist Blythe Pepino interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonti on the Current in 2019. “I became curious about how members of BirthStrike were being represented in media versus how they articulated their own strategy. 

And I wanted to explore the position of BirthStrike in the climate movement and in the context of other multi-issue social justice organizing. What does it mean that these relatively privileged folks in the UK are invoking control over their reproduction as a strategy to demand system change in the current moment?”

Watson also says she’s personally invested in the research from the perspective of a parent. “I have two young kids. Fear about their climate future is something that keeps me up at night. This project allows me to work through some of my own anxieties as I analyze what is offered and foreclosed by various climate strategies.”

This September, Watson will also see the publication of her first book,  The Juggling Mother: Coming Undone in the Age of Anxiety (UBC Press), a book which “explores this figure of contemporary mothering in media representations: a typically white, middle-class woman on the verge of coming undone because of her unwieldy slate of labours.” 

Watson is preparing to teach two courses remotely this Fall: Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (SA302W), and Power, Conflict, and Change in Canadian Society (SA200W). She says she looks forward to connecting with students online. “Despite the need to pivot to remote learning, I am excited to take up the themes of these courses through the lens of Covid-19.”