Reproductive Justice Pedagogy

In Spring 2015, I taught Reproductive Justice at Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) drawing inspiration from the New York City Reproductive Justice Walking Tour and Twitter activism, particularly the Reproductive Justice hashtag (#reprojustice).  As a result, students participated in Community Education by organizing a Reproductive Justice Walking Tour of Carlisle.  Additionally, students contributed to Twitter using our course hashtag #dsonrj culminating in a Reproductive Justice “Selfie” and Twitter Manifesto, which was archived via Storify.

Reproductive Justice Walking Tour of Carlisle

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Students devised narratives at various sites across Dickinson College and Carlisle.  Narratives included mini-lectures, Q & As, performance pieces, and case study accounts.  The walking tour was open to students at Dickinson College and residents of Carlisle.  After brainstorming nearly 20 potential sites, students selected the following:

Kauffman Hall (site of Campus Sexual Misconduct Hearings)

Dickinson College Wellness Center (Birth Control Services and Access Issues)

IMG_3097Allison Hall (Christian Religious Teachings about Reproduction)

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Carlisle Post Office (Comstock Laws, Military Draft, Suffragette Activism)

IMG_3126Safe Harbour (Homelessness, Foster Care Intervention, Maternal Poverty)

IMG_3121Jim Thorpe Memorial Plaque (Carlisle Indian Industrial (Residential) School, 19th Century Birth Control Methods)

IMG_3106IMG_3104IMG_3119Courthouse (Foster Care System, Legal Discrimination against Parents who Engage in BDSM Sexual Practices)

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The Reproductive Justice Walking Tour of Carlisle project concluded with a reflection paper in which students critically analyzed their participation and utility of community education.  The Walking Tour was covered by The Dickinsonian (campus newspaper).

Reproductive Justice “Selfie”

In this course, I address the importance of social media activism, particularly Twitter activism.  Hashtags such as #MarissaAlexander and #StandWithNanHui demonstrate the power of Twitter to circulate information about individual cases of reproductive oppression.  In Nan-Hui Jo’s case, organizers encouraged people to photograph themselves with signs of support.  Inspired by the embodied-textual nature of the activist “selfie”, I invited* students to pose for a picture on the last day of class.  Students were asked to convey the most important reproductive issue to them.  The diversity of responses indicates the multitudinal, and intersectional, dimensions of reproductive justice as a movement.

*Participation was optional

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RJSelfies1RJSelfies2RJSelfies3RJSelfies4RJSelfies5RJSelfies6RJSelfies7RJSelfiesSigns

Reproductive Justice Twitter Manifesto

The final project in Reproductive Justice was a Twitter Manifesto.  Here, students wrote manifestos about a reproductive justice issue (~250 words) and posted their manifestos in a series of tweets using the course hashtag alongside any other hashtag they deemed appropriate.  This assignment taught students social media literacy skills such as how to be economical and accessible with their word choices, while it also asked students to research existing hashtags connected to their issue.  After students completed their manifestos, they used Storify to collect their tweets thus making it easier to read all tweets at once.  Some students included responses and non-Twitter links to fill out their Storify archive.  Below is a sampling of the Twitter manifestos (listed by topic):

Rape Culture on College Campuses

Criminalization of Drug Addicted Pregnant Women

Intersexed Conditions/ Turner’s Syndrome

Caesarian Section Debate

Foster Care System

Challenges to Birth Control Access

Menstrual Hygiene and the Environment

Pregnancy and the Prison System

Adoption

Effects of Trauma and Stress on Mothers

Flint MI Water Crisis

Medicalized Birth

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