Containers of “Meat, Blood, and Madness”

Exploitative Labor and Disposable Bodies in Lullaby and Still Born


  • Bushra Mahzabeen University of Warwick



Neoliberal Capitalism, Gendered Dynamics of Power, Commodification of Bodies and Labor, Gender Violence, Social Reproduction


In the capitalist world-system, the gendered dynamics of power often deny women autonomy to their own bodies, force upon them the responsibilities of care work and motherhood while criminalizing abortion to further subjugate the feminized body. The sexist state, Lola Olufemi (2021: 3) argues, discriminates against women in allocating resources, “…reinforces gendered oppression by restricting women’s freedom and ensuring that poor women have no means to live full and dignified lives.” By analyzing two novels—Leïla Slimani’s Lullaby (2018), translated from French by Sam Taylor, and Guadalupe Nettel’s Still Born (2022), translated from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey—this paper examines how neoliberal capitalism exploits women’s labor and often reduce them to being mere vessels for reproduction. The texts present the commodification and exploitation of women’s labor who inhabit the gendered and uneven world-system. Drawing on the theorization of the combined and unevenness of the modern world-system by the Warwick Research Collective (WReC), social reproduction, and feminist theories from scholars like Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Verónica Gago, Silvia Federici, Lola Olufemi among others, this paper aims to critically examine the exploitative care work, reproductive labor, and the body politic as depicted in the two texts, arguing that neoliberal capitalism turns women into disposable commodities.


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How to Cite

Mahzabeen, B. (2024). Containers of “Meat, Blood, and Madness”: Exploitative Labor and Disposable Bodies in Lullaby and Still Born . Journal of World-Systems Research, 30(1), 30–54.



Women in World-Literature: A Woman’s Work