Bucket Course September 27, “The Care Crisis and Social Justice”

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On September 27, Tammy Nyden, Professor of Philosophy at Grinnell College, will present a Bucket Course lecture titled “The Care Crisis and Social Justice.” The talk, held at Drake Community Library’s Caulkins Room, runs from 10:00-11:30 a.m. It is free and open to the public. No reservations are necessary.

Nyden’s lecture will examine several longstanding structural injustices faced by caregivers of children with mental health disabilities: a direct care labor shortage, a lack of community-based services, the family policing of the Foster Industrial Complex, and mother-blame stigma. She will examine common causes of these traumatizing harms to caregivers and their children and see how they not only manifest in poor health care, but contribute to other social harms, such as the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration. This care crisis has deep roots in how people think about who is and who is not worthy of care and whose labor is visible and worthy of respect and compensation.

In contrast to the current commodification and exploitation of care, shouldered mainly by women and the poor, Nyden will encourage the audience to join her to reimagine systems that treat health care as a human right; care labor as an important, visible, and fairly compensated part of the economy; and care, relationality and reciprocity as foundational organizing principles of human society.

Nyden says she hopes that audience members “will learn to see connections between the philosophical framing and policies around care and the poor outcomes of children with mental health disabilities.”

Regarding her personal interest in the topic, Nyden notes, “I come to this topic as a mother of a child with mental health disability and as a philosopher concerned with the relationship between social injustices and epistemic injustices (that is, how we harm each other as knowers). I am particularly interested in how cultural narratives and framings make ‘invisible’ things that are happening all around us.”

Nyden suggests the following texts as useful preparation for her talk: “The Care Collective” by Andreas Chatzidakis, Jamie Hakim, Jo Littler, Catherine Rottenberg, and Lynne Segal in The Care Manifesto: The Politics of Independence. New York: Verso, 2020.

Nyden (she, her, hers) is a philosophy professor at Grinnell College and co-founder and co-director of Mothers on the Frontline, a non-profit organization dedicated to children’s mental health justice, caregiver justice, and caregiver healing. She has published two books and several articles in early modern philosophy and the history and philosophy of science. Her experiences as a mother and advocate in stigmatized spaces have moved her teaching and scholarship in the direction of epistemic injustice, relational autonomy, and applications of Spinoza’s philosophy as correctives for the many Cartesian ghosts haunting the halls of stigma and oppression. She brings this work to her teaching on the School to Prison Nexus and Children’s Mental Health Justice.

Members of the sponsoring Community Education Cooperative include Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Grinnell College, Drake Community Library, Grinnell-Newburg School District, Grinnell Area Arts Council, Mayflower Community, Grinnell Education Partnership, Read to Lead, and Iowa Valley Community College. Videos of previous Bucket Courses are available on the YouTube channel Grinnell Community Education Cooperative.