The Movement for Reproductive Justice

The Movement for Reproductive Justice

Empowering Women of Color through Social Activism

Social Transformations in American Anthropology

by Patricia Zavella

Published by: NYU Press

320 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 2 black and white, 20 color illustrations

  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781479812707
  • Published: May 2020


  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9781479829200
  • Published: May 2020



Shows how reproductive justice organizations’ collaborative work across racial lines provides a compelling model for other groups to successfully influence change

Patricia Zavella experienced first-hand the trials and judgments imposed on working professional mothers: her commitment to academia was questioned because of her pregnancy; she was shamed for having children while “too young;” and when she finally achieved a tenure track position in 1983, she felt out of place as one of the few female faculty members with children.

These experiences sparked Zavella’s interest in the movement for reproductive justice. In this book, she draws on five years of ethnographic research to explore collaborations among women of color engaged in activism on behalf of reproductive justice. Many organizations focused on reproductive justice activism are racially specific, such as the California Latinas for Reproductive Justice or Black Women for Wellness. Yet Zavella documents how many of these organizations have built cross-sector coalitions, sharing resources and supporting each other through different campaigns or struggles. While the coalitions are often regional—or even national—these organizations have specific constituencies diverse by race, sexual identities, legal status, or ethnicity, presenting unique challenges and opportunities for the women involved.

Zavella argues that these organizations provide a compelling model for negotiating across differences within constituencies. In the context of the “war” on women’s reproductive rights and its disproportionate effect on women of color, The Movement for Reproductive Justice demonstrates that a truly intersectional movement built on grassroots organizing, culture shift work, and policy advocacy for women’s human rights, can offer visions of strength, resiliency, and dignity for all.