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Dr Julienne Obadia

Dr Julienne Obadia

Lecturer in Gender Studies

University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies
Alison Richard Building
7 West Road
Cambridge
CB3 9DP

Biography:

My research, located at the intersection of social anthropology and feminist political theory, examines late liberal formulations of healthy persons and relationships. My book manuscript, Intimacy without Dependence: Possessive Individualism at the Limits of the Liberal Imagination, under review by Duke University Press, explores how notions of healthy intimacy have become tightly associated with independence and self-ownership in the United States. It tracks a range of practices that push liberal ideals of personhood and intimacy by sharing the iconically private spaces of the body, bedroom, and home in unconventional ways: living organ donation, polyamory, and intentional communities. Taken together, these practices, and the challenges and new forms of intimacy that they engender, illuminate the links between health, independence, and debtlessness in late liberal modes of recognition. Situating these links within longer histories of liberalism and its forms of dispossession, I contend that we must look to the persisting structures of settler colonialism and chattel slavery to understand the intensity of such commitments to self-possession and self-mastery as grounds for psychological and ethical wellbeing.

I am currently working on a new book, tentatively titled, On Dying Well: Care, Finitude, and the Social in Death, which returns to the longstanding philosophical question – what is a good death? – from queer-feminist and anthropological perspectives. Grounded in an ethnographic and personal account of the recent illness and death by cancer of a veteran of the U.S. Women’s Movement, it asks how a feminist sensibility shapes the intimate and embodied experience of dying, as well as how alternative forms of kinship and political communities can survive their members. Ultimately, the book aims to extend these questions toward contemporary anxieties about planetary finitude and the urgent need to imagine global forms of care in new ways.

 

Research Interests

Feminist and queer theory; liberalism and dispossession; the anthropology of personhood, kinship, and embodiment; and medical anthropology.