Care as Entropy in the Migration Writing of Valeria Luiselli
Keywords:Migration, U.S., Mexico, Environment, 1970s, family, work, childhood, play, feminism, social reproduction, reproductive labor, border
This article argues that Valeria Luiselli’s migration themed 2017 essay Tell Me How It Ends: An essay in 40 questions and her 2019 novel, Lost Children Archive add an essential element to our understanding of not just migration, but our modern world system. I contend that by grappling with blurred artistic and literary genre boundaries, her work suggests that narrative might not only serve as a metaphor of porous borders, but also as a method to explore an alternative via the revolutionary possibilities of childhood and care to a colonial and capitalist World-System that generates crises of care. Her essay introduced these themes, as well as anxieties about the ethics of documentation (both in narrative and of citizenship), but her novel especially presents, I contend, the political possibility of care, also understood as reproductive labor, as the entropy of capitalism and its slow violence. In doing so, Luiselli’s works center a fundamental aspect of reproductive labor, or care work, as a survival mechanism: how the family unit and work are juxtaposed to childhood and play. The article frames these crises of care through Nancy Fraser’s idea of the boundary struggle, and it examines how the line between reproductive labor and productive labor under capitalism is inherently unstable, always thrown out of balance by the excessive human need to live, to be cared for, and to care for others. It is child’s play that exposes the fallacy of capitalist work as a means of providing for the most vulnerable among us.
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