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Lessons for Survival: Mothering against the Apocalypse

Emily Raboteau, City College of New York; Elizabeth Harman, University Center for Human Values

Wed, 4/3 · 6:00 pm7:30 pm · Labyrinth Books

Labyrinth Books; Princeton Public Library

Award-winning author and critic Emily Raboteau has crafted a powerfully moving meditation on race, climate, environmental justice—and what it takes to find shelter. We invite you to a presentation and conversation with the author.

Lessons for Survival is a probing series of pilgrimages from the perspective of a mother struggling to raise her children to thrive without coming undone in an era of turbulent intersecting crises.

With camera in hand, Raboteau goes in search of birds, fluttering in the air or painted on buildings, and city parks where her children may safely play while avoiding pollution, pandemics, and the police. She ventures abroad to learn from Indigenous peoples, and in her own family and community, she discovers the most intimate examples of resilience. Raboteau bears witness to the inner life of Black womanhood, motherhood, the brutalities and possibilities of cities, while celebrating the beauty and fragility of nature. This innovative work of reportage and autobiography stitches together multiple stories of protection, offering a profound sense of hope.

Emily Raboteau writes at the intersection of social and environmental justice, race, climate change, and parenthood. Her previous books are Searching for Zion, winner of an American Book Award, and the cult classic novel, The Professor’s Daughter. A contributing editor at Orion Magazine and a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, Raboteau’s essays have recently appeared and been anthologized in the New Yorker, the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Nation, Best American Science Writing, Best American Travel Writing, and elsewhere. She serves regularly as nonfiction faculty at the Bread Loaf Environmental Writing Conference and is professor at the City College of New York (CUNY) in Harlem. Elizabeth Harman is Professor of Philosophy and Human Values at Princeton University.  Her papers include Creation Ethics: The Moral Status of Early Fetuses and the Ethics of Abortion; Can We Harm and Benefit in Creating?; The Irrelevance of Moral Uncertainty; and Morally Permissible Moral Mistakes.

This event is co-presented by Labyrinth and the Princeton Public Library and is cosponsored by Princeton University’s Humanities Council and the Departments of African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies.

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