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Social Science Feminism & Feminist Theory

Decolonize Self-Care

by (author) Alyson K. Spurgas & Zoë Meleo-Erwin

series edited by Bhakti Shringarpure

Between the Lines
Initial publish date
Jan 2023
Feminism & Feminist Theory, Popular Culture, Social Classes
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2023
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Decolonize Self-Care mounts a sharply critical investigation into contemporary “self-care” practices—particularly those that embrace using mindfulness and other techniques such as tantra and yoga, as well as gluten-free and low-carbohydrate diets. The authors argue that “self-care” has become an industry, and one that is often marketed to and by wealthy, cisgender, white women in the global north.

Spurgas and Meleo-Erwin contend that the rhetoric of “feminism” is regularly co-opted in selling self-care, with wealthy white women being the primary consumer target and also those who profit from self-care entrepreneurship.

Through careful research and sharp analysis, the authors offer a vision of more radical, communal, collective, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist forms of care for chronic pain, burnout, depression, anxiety, and other conditions, which are often the result of gendered, sexualized, racialized, ableist, and colonialist traumas under late capitalism. Utilizing critical feminist disability studies, madness studies, Black feminist scholarship, decolonial theory, and other intersectional and Marxist feminist critique, the authors re-theorize care outside of and beyond what current self-care rhetorics generally allow. A smart and often laugh-out-loud read, Decolonize Self-Care speaks to academic and lay audiences alike.

About the authors

Alyson K. Spurgas is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where they also teach in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. Alyson is the author of Diagnosing Desire: Biopolitics and Femininity into the Twenty-First Century (Ohio State University Press, 2020), which was awarded the 2021 Cultural Studies Association First Book Prize, and is currently conducting research for a new project on sexual robotics and technologized care. Alyson lives in Brooklyn, New York with their partner and cat—and enjoys bicycling around the neighborhood, getting out of the city to go for a hike, listening to (and sometimes playing) live music, and might even be found doing yoga once in a while.

Alyson K. Spurgas' profile page

Zoë Meleo-Erwin is a sociologist specializing in qualitative data collection methods with over a decade of experience. In January (of 2022) she left academia to begin a position in tech as a UX researcher at a major global tech company. Prior to this, Zoë was an Assistant Professor of Public Health at William Paterson University. Zoë’s academic subject areas of expertise pertained to the relationship between social media and health-related thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, identities, and communities and the interrelationship between different levels of influence. While in academia she published a number of manuscripts and presented nationally as well as internationally on these topics, a list of which can be found at

Zoë Meleo-Erwin's profile page

Bhakti Shringarpure is editor-in-chief of Warscapes magazine. She is the author of Cold War Assemblages: Decolonization to Digital and co-editor of the forthcoming Insurgent Feminisms: Women Write War. She has written for The Guardian, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and Africa is a Country, among other places.

Bhakti Shringarpure's profile page

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