Natasha Lennard

  • Law and Border

    “THERE ARE POLICY CHOICES to be made about who should be an immigrant, and that includes removing folks who don’t qualify under the law,” said Cecilia Muñoz, a member of President Joe Biden’s transition team, and previously the face of President Barack Obama’s harsh immigration-enforcement policies, in a recent interview. She added, “That’s, I think, just the reality of being a nation.”

    Muñoz’s comment is true in the same way “all bachelors are unmarried men” is true—analytically, by virtue of the meaning of its constituent terms. When “a nation” is constituted as the nation-state, in the

  • interviews July 28, 2021

    What is a Good Death?

    Mainstream debates over assisted suicide, or the “right to die,” are predictable. The so-called “sanctity of life” is pitched against “personal autonomy,” while murkier questions of context, political power, and personhood remain uninterrogated. Journalist Katie Engelhart’s The Inevitable does more than perhaps any book to date to advance and complicate the issue. The intensively reported text offers intimate portraits of people seeking and fighting to expand the “right to die,” each of whom seems to edge closer and closer to what we might call “imit cases”: individuals whose desires for

  • Quiet Riot

    THE STANDARD DEBATES around violent and nonviolent protest are well worn, if not worn out. Those of us who defend the deployment of tactics deemed “violent”—the broken bank window, the punched neo-Nazi, the burning cop car—are told that the moral high ground lies in nonviolence alone. In response, we speak of historic successes. We bemoan the whitewashing of civil rights militancy and decry the state’s monopoly on force. We’ve been known to quote Assata Shakur: “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing

  • The Secret Sharer

    Journalists often describe Chelsea Manning as a “whistle-blower.” This is understandable—I’ve called her that myself. The act for which Manning is best known, for which she has been celebrated and persecuted, is usually understood as a bold instance of whistle-blowing. But this is not how Manning primarily describes herself. On her Twitter profile, she identifies as a “Network Security Expert. Fmr. Intel Analyst. Trans Woman” and, first on the list, “Grand Jury Resister.” Grand jury resistance is the reason for Manning’s present incarceration. Last March, she was taken into federal custody for

  • interviews May 20, 2019

    Bookforum talks with Astra Taylor

    The media landscape is awash with concerns about threats to contemporary democracy, Political commentary rightly speaks to very troubling political shifts: President Donald Trump’s undermining of liberal institutions; concerns over Russian election interference; Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s upending of liberal democracy; Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s fascistic agenda; right-wing populism's rise across the West, and more, But media commentary often takes for granted that our imperiled democracies are the form of political life we should be upholding and defending, rather than interrogating.

    The media landscape is awash with concerns about threats to contemporary democracy. Political commentary rightly speaks to very troubling political shifts: President Donald Trump’s undermining of liberal institutions; concerns over Russian election interference; Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s upending of liberal democracy; Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s fascistic agenda; right-wing populism's rise across the West, and more. But media commentary often takes for granted that our imperiled democracies are the form of political life we should be upholding and defending, rather than

  • interviews May 15, 2019

    Bookforum talks with Sophie Lewis

    When the topic of surrogacy is given media space, stories usually revolve around the struggles of women with fertility problems who turn to surrogate gestators to relieve the pain of childlessness. Or they expose the commercial surrogacy industry’s exploitative practices, lingering on the perceived body horror of commercializing someone’s else womb.” Surrogacy is presented as either a glorious gift or the worst sort of exploitation.

    When the topic of surrogacy is given media space, stories usually revolve around the struggles of women with fertility problems who turn to surrogate gestators to relieve the pain of childlessness. Or they expose the commercial surrogacy industry’s exploitative practices, lingering on the perceived body horror of commercializing someone’s else womb.” Surrogacy is presented as either a glorious gift or the worst sort of exploitation. Sophie Lewis’s book Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family, takes a scalpel to both these accounts. Indeed, it explodes the very concept of surrogacy, and