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[Re-]Imagining the Family: Forms, Values, Planning and Alternatives

In response to the Re-imagining Citizenship Activity Book (see details below), which is currently part of a display at the exhibition “Personal Structures – Identities” at Palazzo Mora in Venice, we will organise two reading group sessions. The meetings will create space for a public discussion of issues relating to family, family-related values, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. 

Events such as the World Congress of Families conference that took place in Verona in March 2019, and the ongoing battle for access to safe and dignified family planning services in Italy and beyond, draw attention to ongoing questions of how the idea of the family – what it looks like, who gets to have one and when, and what types of family are legitimate – relate to contemporary political struggles. In light of such issues, both reading groups will seek to explore the concept of family today and how family values are being used as political leverage.

Over two days, we will meet at the Palazzo Mora (European Cultural Centre, Palazzo Mora, Strada Nuova #3659, Venice, Italy) to read, confer and reflect. The texts that will be examined closely together will be made available before the event, but there is no pressure to read anything beforehand. We will both read and discuss together on the day, and copies of the text will be made available. We will explore family ideals, values and gender/sexual politics through the following themes:

  1. Thursday 7th November, 15.00-18.00 – The role of the traditional family and declining birth rates in contemporary politics

  • Friday 8th November, 15.00-18.00 – Abortion as part of family planning: access and societal stigma

The reading will not be overtly academic and theoretical: we will interrogate items from the news and creative writings, for example. The texts will be in English, but translations into Italian during the discussion will be possible. All perspectives and backgrounds are welcome, and we hope to generate a debate that is intergenerational, respectful of difference and informed by the experiences of various cultural contexts. Participants are welcome to attend one or both sessions.  

An audio-recording of the event will be made as a documentation for the Re-Imagining Citizenship Living Archive, but just let us know if you do not want to be a part of this.

On 7th November we will read and discuss:

bell hooks, “Revolutionary Parenting”, Chapter 10 from her “Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center”, Boston, MA: South End Press 1984,  p. 133-146.
Download pdf: bell hooks – Revolutionary Parenting [Feminist Theory-From Margin to Center]

Jennifer Guerra, “L’ istinto materno non esiste: Non volere figli non è egoista” from The Vision, 17 March 2018.
Download pdf: Jennifer Guerra – L’istinto materno non esiste-Non volere figli non è egoista [The Vision]

[Anon.], “The Observer View on Immigration Being the Answer to Falling Birth Rates: Observer Editorial”, from The Guardian, 4 August 2019.
Download pdf: The Observer view on immigration being the answer to falling birth rates – Observer Editorial

On 8th November we will read and discuss:

Holly Pester, “Comic Timing”, from Granta #144, 7 November 2018.
Download pdf: Holly Pester – Comic Timing

Kara Fox and Valentina Di Donati, ” Abortion is a Right in Italy. For Many Women, Getting One is Nearly Impossible”, from CNN, May 2019.
Download pdf: Abortion is a right in Italy – For many women, getting one is nearly impossible [CNN]

Additional literature can be found at:

Re-imagining Citizenship is an ongoing, collaborative project initiated by the Politicized Practice/Anarchism/Theatre Activism research groups based at Loughborough University, UK ( We are looking for collective redefinitions of citizenship that are not prescribed or closed down by the language of the media, but rather opened up by artistic methods.

The Re-imagining Citizenship Activity Book/Re-imagining Citizenship Living Archive forms part of this ongoing dialogue around themes related to art and political activism. Since 2014, artists, researchers and associates of the three research groups have organised exhibitions, installations, performances and participatory events to explore the potential for art practices to re-imagine citizenship. These culminated in a series of activities during in March 2019, including the production of the Re-imagining Citizenship Activity Book which has thirty different contributions, inviting readers to respond creatively to sets of instructions (using text, images, video or audio) and to upload them to the Living Archive on

The reading groups are initiated and facilitated by Sophia Kier-Byfield (PhD researcher, Loughborough University), Tom Nys (PhD researcher, Loughborough University), and Altea Solari (medical student, University of Bologna).