Decolonize Self-Care


by Alyson K. Spurgas and Zoë C. Meleo-Erwin
edited by Bhakti Shringarpure

For twentieth-century feminists, it was a rallying cry for bodily autonomy and political power. For influencers and lifestyle brands, it’s buying fancy nutrition and body products at a premium. And it has now infiltrated nearly every food, leisure, and pop-culture space as a hugely lucrative industry.

What is it? To quote a million memes: it’s called self-care.

In Decolonize Self-Care, Alyson K. Spurgas and Zoë Meleo-Erwin deliver a comprehensive sociological analysis and scathing critique of the term’s capitalist, racist undertones. Decolonizing self-care, they argue, requires a full reckoning with the exclusionary, appropriative nature of most of the wellness industry, but this education is only the first step in the process. We must commit to new models of care and well-being that allow for health, pleasure, and community—for everyone.

Paperback | 286 pages | OR Books | 2023

Alyson K. Spurgas is Associate Professor of Sociology and affiliated faculty in the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Spurgas researches, writes, and teaches about the sociology of trauma, the politics of desire, and technologies of care from an interdisciplinary and intersectional feminist perspective. They are also the author of Diagnosing Desire: Biopolitics and Femininity into the Twenty-First Century (The Ohio State University Press, 2020), which won the 2021 Cultural Studies Association First Book Prize. Alyson lives in Brooklyn, New York, with their amazing partner and cat. Check out for info about Alyson’s writing, teaching, speaking events, and more.

Zoë Meleo-Erwin is a qualitative sociologist and former assistant professor of public health. In 2022, she left academia to pursue a career as a user experience researcher in the tech industry. As a scholar, her work focused on the meanings of health and illness, health decision-making, experiences of embodiment, and the ways in which digital technologies facilitate the creation of both identity and community around health and illness. A list of her publications can be found on her website,

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.

In stock (can be backordered)

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