Martin Heidegger once wrote that the world had, in the age of modern science, become a world picture. For Rey Chow, the world has, in the age of atomic bombs, become a world target, to be attacked once it is identified, or so global geopolitics, dominated by the United States since the end of the Second World War, seems repeatedly to confirm. How to articulate the problematics of knowledge production with this aggressive targeting of the world? Chow attempts such an articulation by probing the significance of the chronological proximity of area studies, poststructuralist theory, and comparative literature—fields of inquiry that have each exerted considerable influence but whose mutual implicatedness as postwar U.S. academic phenomena has seldom been theorized. Central to Chow’s discussions is a critique of the predicament of self-referentiality—the compulsive move to interiorize that, in her view, constitutes the collective frenzy of our age—in different contemporary epistemic registers, including the self-consciously avant-garde as well as the militaristic and culturally supremacist. Urging her readers to think beyond the inward-turning focus on EuroAmerica that tends to characterize even the most radical gestures of Western self-deconstruction, Chow envisions much broader intellectual premises for future transcultural work, with reading practices aimed at restoring words and things to their constitutive exteriority.
AIDS and the National Body
Thomas E. Yingling Duke University Press, 1997 Library of Congress RA644.A25Y56 1997 | Dewey Decimal 362.196979200973
Thomas Yingling was a rising star in American studies, a leading figure in gay and lesbian studies, and a prominent theorist of AIDS and cultural politics when he died in 1992. AIDS and the National Body is a brilliant excursion into the mind and heart of Yingling, author of the critically acclaimed book, Hart Crane and the Homosexual Text. Robyn Wiegman, a friend and colleague of Yingling’s, has collected in this book a selection of his critical and creative work. These previously published and unpublished essays, nonacademic prose, poetry, and letters are a powerful testimonial to the intellectual legacy left by Yingling. Contemplating the contradictions of individual identity from within a human body adapting to and living within a collective national culture, Yingling delves into such issues as canon formation, poetic theory, and the rhetoric of the body in American popular culture. In addition to Wiegman’s illuminating introduction, the conversation is joined by four other scholars—Michael Awkward, Robert L. Caserio, Stephen Melville, and David Román—whose critical and personal responses to Yingling’s writing weigh in throughout the volume. What emerges is a collection that embodies the particular difficulties of living with AIDS, of outliving someone who has died of AIDS, and of losing prematurely an important thinker.
In Alimentary Tracts Parama Roy argues that who eats and with whom, who starves, and what is rejected as food are questions fundamental to empire, decolonization, and globalization. In crucial ways, she suggests, colonialism reconfigured the sensorium of colonizer and colonized, generating novel experiences of desire, taste, and appetite as well as new technologies of the embodied self. For colonizers, Indian nationalists, diasporic persons, and others in the colonial and postcolonial world orders, the alimentary tract functioned as an important corporeal, psychoaffective, and ethicopolitical contact zone, in which questions of identification, desire, difference, and responsibility were staged.
Interpreting texts that have addressed cooking, dining, taste, hungers, excesses, and aversions in South Asia and its diaspora since the mid-nineteenth century, Roy relates historical events and literary figures to tropes of disgust, abstention, dearth, and appetite. She analyzes the fears of pollution and deprivation conveyed in British accounts of the so-called Mutiny of 1857, complicates understandings of Mohandas K. Gandhi’s vegetarianism, examines the “famine fictions” of the novelist-actor Mahasweta Devi, and reflects on the diasporic cookbooks and screen performances of Madhur Jaffrey. This account of richly visceral global modernity furnishes readers with a new idiom for understanding historical action and cultural transformation.
In this brilliantly combative study, Robyn Wiegman challenges contemporary clichés about race and gender, a formulation that is itself a cliché in need of questioning. As part of what she calls her "feminist disloyalty," she turns a critical, even skeptical, eye on current debates about multiculturalism and "difference" while simultaneously exposing the many ways in which white racial supremacy has been reconfigured since the institutional demise of segregation. Most of all, she examines the hypocrisy and contradictoriness of over a century of narratives that posit Anglo-Americans as heroic agents of racism’s decline. Whether assessing Uncle Tom’s Cabin, lynching, Leslie Fiedler’s racialist mapping of the American novel, the Black Power movement of the 60s, 80s buddy films, or the novels of Richard Wright and Toni Morrison, Wiegman unflinchingly confronts the paradoxes of both racism and antiracist agendas, including those advanced from a feminist perspective. American Anatomies takes the long view: What epistemological frameworks allowed the West, from the Renaissance forward, to schematize racial and gender differences and to create social hierarchies based on these differences? How have those epistemological regimes changed—and not changed—over time? Where are we now? With painstaking care, political passion, and intellectual daring, Wiegman analyzes the biological and cultural bases of racial and gender bias in order to reinvigorate the discussion of identity politics. She concludes that, for very different reasons, identity proves to be dangerous to minority and majority alike.
In this remarkable account of imperial citizenship, Sukanya Banerjee investigates the ways that Indians formulated notions of citizenship in the British Empire from the late nineteenth century through the early twentieth. Tracing the affective, thematic, and imaginative tropes that underwrote Indian claims to formal equality prior to decolonization, she emphasizes the extralegal life of citizenship: the modes of self-representation it generates even before it is codified and the political claims it triggers because it is deferred. Banerjee theorizes modes of citizenship decoupled from the rights-conferring nation-state; in so doing, she provides a new frame for understanding the colonial subject, who is usually excluded from critical discussions of citizenship.
Interpreting autobiography, fiction, election speeches, economic analyses, parliamentary documents, and government correspondence, Banerjee foregrounds the narrative logic sustaining the unprecedented claims to citizenship advanced by racialized colonial subjects. She focuses on the writings of figures such as Dadabhai Naoroji, known as the first Asian to be elected to the British Parliament; Surendranath Banerjea, among the earliest Indians admitted into the Indian Civil Service; Cornelia Sorabji, the first woman to study law in Oxford and the first woman lawyer in India; and Mohandas K. Gandhi, who lived in South Africa for nearly twenty-one years prior to his involvement in Indian nationalist politics. In her analysis of the unexpected registers through which they carved out a language of formal equality, Banerjee draws extensively from discussions in both late-colonial India and Victorian Britain on political economy, indentured labor, female professionalism, and bureaucratic modernity. Signaling the centrality of these discussions to the formulations of citizenship, Becoming Imperial Citizens discloses a vibrant transnational space of political action and subjecthood, and it sheds new light on the complex mutations of the category of citizenship.
In The Body of War, Dubravka Žarkov analyzes representations of female and male bodies in the Croatian and Serbian press in the late 1980s and in the early 1990s, during the war in which Yugoslavia disintegrated. Žarkov proposes that the Balkan war was not a war between ethnic groups; rather, ethnicity was produced by the war itself. Žarkov explores the process through which ethnicity was generated, showing how lived and symbolic female and male bodies became central to it. She does not posit a direct causal relationship between hate speech published in the press during the mid-1980s and the acts of violence in the war. Instead, she argues that both the representational practices of the “media war” and the violent practices of the “ethnic war” depended on specific, shared notions of femininity and masculinity, norms of (hetero)sexuality, and definitions of ethnicity.
Tracing the links between the war and press representations of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, Žarkov examines the media’s coverage of two major protests by women who explicitly identified themselves as mothers, of sexual violence against women and men during the war, and of women as militants. She draws on contemporary feminist analyses of violence to scrutinize international and local feminist writings on the war in former Yugoslavia. Demonstrating that some of the same essentialist ideas of gender and sexuality used to produce and reinforce the significance of ethnic differences during the war often have been invoked by feminists, she points out the political and theoretical drawbacks to grounding feminist strategies against violence in ideas of female victimhood.
Always in the process of becoming, inherently incomplete, the child is a remarkably malleable figure. In Figurations, Claudia Castañeda shows how this malleability is itself generated—how the child is "made" by different constituencies and how the resulting historically, geographically, and culturally specific figures are put to widely divergent uses, often to very powerful effect. Situated at the intersection of feminist, postcolonial, cultural, and science and technology studies, this book provides a remarkable map of the child's meaning and movement across transnational circuits of exchange. Castañeda investigates the construction of the child as both a natural and cultural body, the character of its embodiment, and its imaginative appeal in various settings. The sites through which she tracks the bodily production and deployment of the child include nineteenth-century developmental science; cognitive neuroscience in the late twentieth century; international adoption; rumors and media coverage of child-organ stealing; and poststructuralist theory. Her work reveals the extent to which the child's cultural significance and value lie in its status as a body whose incompleteness makes it "available" for such varied uses. Figurations establishes the child as a key figure for understanding and rethinking the politics of nature, culture, bodies, and subjects in changing "global" worlds.
Anjali Arondekar considers the relationship between sexuality and the colonial archive by posing the following questions: Why does sexuality (still) seek its truth in the historical archive? What are the spatial and temporal logics that compel such a return? And conversely, what kind of “archive” does such a recuperative hermeneutics produce? Rather than render sexuality’s relationship to the colonial archive through the preferred lens of historical invisibility (which would presume that there is something about sexuality that is lost or silent and needs to “come out”), Arondekar engages sexuality’s recursive traces within the colonial archive against and through our very desire for access.
The logic and the interpretive resources of For the Record arise out of two entangled and minoritized historiographies: one in South Asian studies and the other in queer/sexuality studies. Focusing on late colonial India, Arondekar examines the spectacularization of sexuality in anthropology, law, literature, and pornography from 1843 until 1920. By turning to materials and/or locations that are familiar to most scholars of queer and subaltern studies, Arondekar considers sexuality at the center of the colonial archive rather than at its margins. Each chapter addresses a form of archival loss, troped either in a language of disappearance or paucity, simulacrum or detritus: from Richard Burton’s missing report on male brothels in Karáchi (1845) to a failed sodomy prosecution in Northern India, Queen Empress v. Khairati (1884), and from the ubiquitous India-rubber dildos found in colonial pornography of the mid-to-late nineteenth century to the archival detritus of Kipling’s stories about the Indian Mutiny of 1857.
The Futures of American Studies
Donald E. Pease and Robyn Wiegman, eds. Duke University Press, 2002 Library of Congress E175.8.F88 2002 | Dewey Decimal 973.071
Originating as a proponent of U.S. exceptionalism during the Cold War, American Studies has now reinvented itself, vigorously critiquing various kinds of critical hegemony and launching innovative interdisciplinary endeavors. The Futures of American Studies considers the field today and provides important deliberations on what it might yet become. Essays by both prominent and emerging scholars provide theoretically engaging analyses of the postnational impulse of current scholarship, the field's historical relationship to social movements, the status of theory, the state of higher education in the United States, and the impact of ethnic and gender studies on area studies. They also investigate the influence of poststructuralism, postcolonial studies, sexuality studies, and cultural studies on U.S. nationalist—and antinationalist—discourses. No single overriding paradigm dominates the anthology. Instead, the articles enter into a lively and challenging dialogue with one another. A major assessment of the state of the field, The Futures of American Studies is necessary reading for American Studies scholars.
Contributors. Lindon Barrett, Nancy Bentley, Gillian Brown, Russ Castronovo, Eric Cheyfitz, Michael Denning, Winfried Fluck, Carl Gutierrez-Jones, Dana Heller, Amy Kaplan, Paul Lauter, Günter H. Lenz, George Lipsitz, Lisa Lowe, Walter Benn Michaels, José Estaban Muñoz, Dana D. Nelson, Ricardo L. Ortiz, Janice Radway, John Carlos Rowe, William V. Spanos
With hair slicked back and shirt collar framing her young patrician face, Katherine Hepburn's image in the 1935 film Sylvia Scarlett was seen by many as a lesbian representation. Yet, Amy Villarejo argues, there is no final ground upon which to explain why that image of Hepburn signifies lesbian or why such a cross-dressing Hollywood fantasy edges into collective consciousness as a lesbian narrative. Investigating what allows viewers to perceive an image or narrative as "lesbian," Villarejo presents a theoretical exploration of lesbian visibility. Focusing on images of lesbians in film, she analyzes what these representations contain and their limits. She combines Marxist theories of value with poststructuralist insights to argue that lesbian visibility operates simultaneously as an achievement and a ruse, a possibility for building a new visual politics and away of rendering static and contained what lesbian might mean. Integrating cinema studies, queer and feminist theory, and cultural studies, Villarejo illuminates the contexts within which the lesbian is rendered visible. Toward that end, she analyzes key portrayals of lesbians in public culture, particularly in documentary film. She considers a range of films—from documentaries about Cuba and lesbian pulp fiction to Exile Shanghai and The Brandon Teena Story—and, in doing so, brings to light a nuanced economy of value and desire.
The book Our Bodies, Ourselves is a feminist success story. Selling more than four million copies since its debut in 1970, it has challenged medical dogmas about women’s bodies and sexuality, shaped health care policies, energized the reproductive rights movement, and stimulated medical research on women’s health. The book has influenced how generations of U.S. women feel about their bodies and health. Our Bodies, Ourselves has also had a whole life outside the United States. It has been taken up, translated, and adapted by women across the globe, inspiring more than thirty foreign language editions.
Kathy Davis tells the story of this remarkable book’s global circulation. Based on interviews with members of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, the group of women who created Our Bodies, Ourselves, as well as responses to the book from readers, and discussions with translators from Latin America, Egypt, Thailand, China, Eastern Europe, Francophone Africa, and many other countries and regions, Davis shows why Our Bodies, Ourselves could never have been so influential if it had been just a popular manual on women’s health. It was precisely the book’s distinctive epistemology, inviting women to use their own experiences as resources for producing situated, critical knowledge about their bodies and health, that allowed the book to speak to so many women within and outside the United States. Davis provides a grounded analysis of how feminist knowledge and political practice actually travel, and she shows how the process of transforming Our Bodies, Ourselves offers a glimpse of a truly transnational feminism, one that joins the acknowledgment of difference and diversity among women in different locations with critical reflexivity and political empowerment.
Reflecting the burgeoning academic interest in issues of nation, race, gender, sexuality, and other axes of identity, Multiculturalism, Postcoloniality, and Transnational Media brings all of these concerns under the same umbrella, contending that these issues must be discussed in relation to each other. Communities, societies, nations, and even entire continents, the book suggests, exist not autonomously but rather in a densely woven web of connectedness.
To explore this complexity, the editors have forged links between usually compartmentalized fields (especially media studies, literary theory, visual culture, and critical anthropology) and areas of inquiry-particularly postcolonial and diasporic studies and a diverse set of ethnic and area studies. This book, which links all these issues in suggestive ways, provides an indispensable guide for students and scholars in a wide variety of disciplines. Essays in this groundbreaking volume include Julianne Burton-Carvajal on ethnic identity in Lone Star; Manthia Diawara on diasporic documentary; Hamid Naficy on independent transnational film genres; Robyn Wiegman on whiteness studies; Faye Ginsburg on indigenous media; and Jennifer Gonzßles on race in cyberspace; Ana M. Lopez on modernity and Latin American cinema; and Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan on Warrior Marks and multiculturalism and globalization.
Investigating the cultural, social, and political histories of punishment during ninety years surrounding the 1838 abolition of slavery in Jamaica, Diana Paton challenges standard historiographies of slavery and discipline. The abolition of slavery in Jamaica, as elsewhere, entailed the termination of slaveholders’ legal right to use violence—which they defined as “punishment”—against those they had held as slaves. Paton argues that, while slave emancipation involved major changes in the organization and representation of punishment, there was no straightforward transition from corporal punishment to the prison or from privately inflicted to state-controlled punishment. Contesting the dichotomous understanding of pre-modern and modern modes of power that currently dominates the historiography of punishment, she offers critical readings of influential theories of power and resistance, including those of Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, and Ranajit Guha.
No Bond but the Law reveals the longstanding and intimate relationship between state formation and private punishment. The construction of a dense, state-organized system of prisons began not with emancipation but at the peak of slave-based wealth in Jamaica, in the 1780s. Jamaica provided the paradigmatic case for British observers imagining and evaluating the emancipation process. Paton’s analysis moves between imperial processes on the one hand and Jamaican specificities on the other, within a framework comparing developments regarding punishment in Jamaica with those in the U.S. South and elsewhere. Emphasizing the gendered nature of penal policy and practice throughout the emancipation period, Paton is attentive to the ways in which the actions of ordinary Jamaicans and, in particular, of women prisoners, shaped state decisions.
No More Separate Spheres! challenges the limitations of thinking about American literature and culture within the narrow rubric of “male public” and “female private” spheres from the founders to the present. With provocative essays by an array of cutting-edge critics with diverse viewpoints, this collection examines the ways that the separate spheres binary has malingered unexamined in feminist criticism, American literary studies, and debates on the public sphere. It exemplifies new ways of analyzing gender, breaks through old paradigms, and offers a primer on feminist thinking for the twenty-first century. Using American literary studies as a way to talk about changing categories of analysis, these essays discuss the work of such major authors as Catharine Sedgwick, Herman Melville, Pauline E. Hopkins, Frederick Douglass, Catharine Beecher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, W. E. B. Du Bois, Sarah Orne Jewett, Nathaniel Hawthorne, María Ampara Ruiz de Burton, Ann Petry, Gwendolyn Brooks, Cynthia Kadohata, Chang Rae-Lee, and Samuel Delany. No More Separate Spheres! shows scholars and students different ways that gender can be approached and incorporated into literary interpretations. Feisty and provocative, it provides a forceful analysis of the limititations of any theory of gender that applies only to women, and urges suspicion of any argument that posits “woman” as a universal or uniform category. By bringing together essays from the influential special issue of American Literature of the same name, a number of classic essays, and several new pieces commissioned for this volume, No More Separate Spheres! will be an ideal teaching tool, providing a key supplementary text in the American literature classroom.
Contributors. José F. Aranda, Lauren Berlant, Cathy N. Davidson, Judith Fetterley, Jessamyn Hatcher, Amy Kaplan, Dana D. Nelson, Christopher Newfield, You-me Park, Marjorie Pryse, Elizabeth Renker, Ryan Schneider, Melissa Solomon, Siobhan Somerville, Gayle Wald , Maurice Wallace
Robyn Wiegman Duke University Press, 2012 Library of Congress HM480.W54 2012 | Dewey Decimal 301.01
No concept has been more central to the emergence and evolution of identity studies than social justice. In historical and theoretical accounts, it crystallizes the progressive politics that have shaped the academic study of race, gender, and sexuality. Yet few scholars have deliberated directly on the political agency that notions of justice confer on critical practice. In Object Lessons, Robyn Wiegman contemplates this lack of attention, offering the first sustained inquiry into the political desire that galvanizes identity fields. In each chapter, she examines a key debate by considering the political aspirations that shape it. Addressing Women's Studies, she traces the ways that "gender" promises to overcome the exclusions of "women." Turning to Ethnic Studies, she examines the deconstruction of "whiteness" as an antiracist methodology. As she explores American Studies, she links internationalization to the broader quest for noncomplicity in contemporary criticism. Her analysis of Queer Studies demonstrates how the commitment to antinormativity normalizes the field. In the penultimate chapter, Wiegman addresses intersectionality as the most coveted theoretical approach to political resolution in all of these fields.
Partners in Conflict examines the importance of sexuality and gender to rural labor and agrarian politics during the last days of Chile’s latifundia system of traditional landed estates and throughout the governments of Eduardo Frei and Salvador Allende. Heidi Tinsman analyzes differences between men’s and women’s participation in Chile’s Agrarian Reform movement and considers how conflicts over gender and sexuality shape the contours of working-class struggles and national politics. Tinsman restores women to a scholarly narrative that has been almost exclusively about men, recounting the centrality of women’s labor to the pre-Agrarian Reform world of the hacienda during the 1950s and recovering women’s critical roles in union struggles and land occupations during the Agrarian Reform itself. Providing a theoretical framework for understanding why the Agrarian Reform ultimately empowered men more than women, Tinsman argues that women were marginalized not because the Agrarian Reform ignored women but because, under both the Frei and Allende governments, it promoted the male-headed household as the cornerstone of a new society. Although this emphasis on gender cooperation stressed that men should have more respect for their wives and funneled unprecedented amounts of resources into women’s hands, the reform defined men as its protagonists and affirmed their authority over women. This is the first monographic social history of Chile’s Agrarian Reform in either English or Spanish, and the first historical work to make sexuality and gender central to the analysis of the reforms.
Santha Rama Rau was one of the best known South Asian writers in postwar America. Born into India’s elite in 1923, Rama Rau has lived in the United States since the 1940s. Although she is no longer well known, she was for several decades a popular expert on India. She provided an insider’s view of Indian cultures, traditions, and history to an American public increasingly aware of the expanded role of the United States on the world stage. Between 1945 and 1970, Rama Rau published half a dozen books, including travelogues, novels, a memoir, and a Time-Life cookbook; she was a regular contributor to periodicals such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, McCall’s, and Reader’s Digest.
Drawing on archival research and interviews with Rama Rau, historian Antoinette Burton opens Rama Rau’s career into an examination of orientalism in the postwar United States, the changing idioms of cosmopolitanism in the postcolonial era, and the afterlife of British colonialism in the American public sphere. Burton describes how Rama Rau’s career was shaped by gendered perceptions of India and “the East” as well as by the shifting relationships between the United States, India, Pakistan, and Great Britain during the Cold War. Exploring how Rama Rau positioned herself as an expert on both India and the British empire, Burton analyzes the correspondence between Rama Rau and her Time-Life editors over the contents of her book The Cooking of India (1969), and Rama Rau’s theatrical adaptation of E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, which played on Broadway in 1961 and was the basis for David Lean’s 1985 film. Burton assesses the critical reception of Rama Rau’s play as well as her correspondence with Forster and Lean.
The tyrannies of sexual normativity have been widely denounced in queer theory. Heteronormativity, homonormativity, family values, marriage, and monogamy have all been objects of sustained queer critique, most often in purely oppositional form: as antinormativity. The contributors to this special issue ask a seemingly simple question of this critical code: can queer theory proceed without a primary allegiance to antinormativity? These essays offer an affirmative answer either by rethinking normativity or eschewing it altogether in order to redirect the intellectual and political energies of the field.
The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism is a history of thinking about the subject of women in twentieth-century China. Tani E. Barlow illustrates the theories and conceptual categories that Enlightenment Chinese intellectuals have developed to describe the collectivity of women. Demonstrating how generations of these theorists have engaged with international debates over eugenics, gender, sexuality, and the psyche, Barlow argues that as an Enlightenment project, feminist debate in China is at once Chinese and international. She reads social theory, psychoanalytic thought, literary criticism, ethics, and revolutionary political ideologies to illustrate the range and scope of Chinese feminist theory’s preoccupation with the problem of gender inequality. She reveals how, throughout the cataclysms of colonial modernity, revolutionary modernization, and market socialism, prominent Chinese feminists have gathered up the remainders of the past and formed them into social and ethical arguments, categories, and political positions, ceaselessly reshaping progressive Enlightenment sexual liberation theory.
This compelling ethnography of women working in Bulgaria’s popular sea and ski resorts challenges the idea that women have consistently fared worse than men in Eastern Europe’s transition from socialism to a market economy. For decades western European tourists have flocked to Bulgaria’s beautiful beaches and mountains; tourism is today one of the few successful—and expanding—sectors of the country’s economy. Even at the highest levels of management, employment in the tourism industry has long been dominated by women. Kristen Ghodsee explains why this is and how women working in the industry have successfully negotiated their way through Bulgaria’s capitalist transformation while the fortunes of most of the population have plummeted. She highlights how, prior to 1989, the communist planners sought to create full employment for all at the same time that they steered women into the service sector. The women given jobs in tourism obtained higher educations, foreign language skills, and experiences working with Westerners, all of which positioned them to take advantage of the institutional changes eventually brought about by privatization.
Interspersed throughout The Red Riviera are vivid examinations of the lives of Bulgarian women, including a waitress, a tour operator, a chef, a maid, a receptionist, and a travel agent. Through these women’s stories, Ghodsee describes their employment prior to 1989 and after. She considers the postsocialist forces that have shaped the tourist industry over the past fifteen years: the emergence of a new democratic state, the small but increasing interest of foreign investors and transnational corporations, and the proliferation of ngos. Ghodsee suggests that many of the ngos, by insisting that Bulgarian women are necessarily disenfranchised, ignore their significant professional successes.
Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico is an empirically rich history of women’s political organizing during a critical stage of regime consolidation. Rebutting the image of Mexican women as conservative and antirevolutionary, Jocelyn Olcott shows women activists challenging prevailing beliefs about the masculine foundations of citizenship. Piecing together material from national and regional archives, popular journalism, and oral histories, Olcott examines how women inhabited the conventionally manly role of citizen by weaving together its quotidian and formal traditions, drawing strategies from local political struggles and competing gender ideologies.
Olcott demonstrates an extraordinary grasp of the complexity of postrevolutionary Mexican politics, exploring the goals and outcomes of women’s organizing in Mexico City and the port city of Acapulco as well as in three rural locations: the southeastern state of Yucatán, the central state of Michoacán, and the northern region of the Comarca Lagunera. Combining the strengths of national and regional approaches, this comparative perspective sets in relief the specificities of citizenship as a lived experience.
The Scandal of the State is a revealing study of the relationship between the postcolonial, democratic Indian nation-state and Indian women’s actual needs and lives. Well-known for her work combining feminist theory and postcolonial studies, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan shows how the state is central to understanding women’s identities and how, reciprocally, women and “women’s issues” affect the state’s role and function. She argues that in India law and citizenship define for women not only the scope of political rights but also cultural identity and everyday life. Sunder Rajan delineates the postcolonial state in implicit contrast with the “enlightened,” postfeminist neoliberal state in the West. Her analysis wrestles with complex social realities, taking into account the influence of age, ethnicity, religion, and class on individual and group identities as well as the shifting, heterogeneous nature of the state itself.
The Scandal of the State develops through a series of compelling case studies, each of which centers around an incident exposing the contradictory position of the Indian state vis-à-vis its female citizens and, ultimately, the inadequacy of its commitment to women’s rights. Sunder Rajan focuses on the custody battle over a Muslim child bride, the compulsory sterilization of mentally retarded women in state institutional care, female infanticide in Tamilnadu, prostitution as labor rather than crime, and the surrender of the female outlaw Phoolan Devi. She also looks at the ways the Uniform Civil Code presented many women with a stark choice between allegiance to their religion and community or the secular assertion of individual rights. Rich with theoretical acumen and activist passion, The Scandal of the State is a powerful critique of the mutual dependence of women and the state on one another in the specific context of a postcolonial modernity.
In Sciences from Below, the esteemed feminist science studies scholar Sandra Harding synthesizes modernity studies with progressive tendencies in science and technology studies to suggest how scientific and technological pursuits might be more productively linked to social justice projects around the world. Harding illuminates the idea of multiple modernities as well as the major contributions of post-Kuhnian Western, feminist, and postcolonial science studies. She explains how these schools of thought can help those seeking to implement progressive social projects refine their thinking to overcome limiting ideas about what modernity and modernization are, the objectivity of scientific knowledge, patriarchy, and Eurocentricity. She also reveals how ideas about gender and colonialism frame the conventional contrast between modernity and tradition. As she has done before, Harding points the way forward in Sciences from Below.
Describing the work of the post-Kuhnian science studies scholars Bruno Latour, Ulrich Beck, and the team of Michael Gibbons, Helga Nowtony, and Peter Scott, Harding reveals how, from different perspectives, they provide useful resources for rethinking the modernity versus tradition binary and its effects on the production of scientific knowledge. Yet, for the most part, they do not take feminist or postcolonial critiques into account. As Harding demonstrates, feminist science studies and postcolonial science studies have vital contributions to make; they bring to light not only the male supremacist investments in the Western conception of modernity and the historical and epistemological bases of Western science but also the empirical knowledge traditions of the global South. Sciences from Below is a clear and compelling argument that modernity studies and post-Kuhnian, feminist, and postcolonial sciences studies each have something important, and necessary, to offer to those formulating socially progressive scientific research and policy.
This special issue of differences provides spirited commentaries on the critical and political stakes of contemporary sexual politics in the United States. In a series of short keyword essays in the first half of the issue, contributors interrogate the implications and assumptions behind significant terms such as #metoo, consent, testimony, solidarity, pedophile, and trigger warning. The second half of the issue features in-depth essays that critique how universities have become spaces for pedagogy around affirmative consent; connect Larry Nassar's serial sexual assaults to feminist writing about the systemic nature of sexual violence; argue for the possibilities for black women’s sexual citizenship that exist within overlooked or dismissed domains; and analyze the continued relevance of feminist legal thinker Catharine MacKinnon. Together, the contributors demonstrate that now is the time to interrogate the politics of sex in the political present.
Contributors. Kadji Amin, Eva Cherniavsky, Andrea Long Chu, Jennifer Doyle, Joseph J. Fischel, Lynne Joyrich, Jennifer C. Nash, Emily Owens, Shoniqua Roach, Juana María Rodríguez, Mairead Sullivan, Samia Vasa, Rebecca Wanzo, Robyn Wiegman, Terrance Wooten
Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices brings together for the first time a selection of trailblazing essays by Ella Shohat, an internationally renowned theorist of postcolonial and cultural studies of Iraqi-Jewish background. Written over the past two decades, these twelve essays—some classic, some less known, some new—trace a powerful intellectual trajectory as Shohat rigorously teases out the consequences of a deep critique of Eurocentric epistemology, whether to rethink feminism through race, nationalism through ethnicity, or colonialism through sexuality.
Shohat’s critical method boldly transcends disciplinary and geographical boundaries. She explores such issues as the relations between ethnic studies and area studies, the paradoxical repercussions for audio-visual media of the “graven images” taboo, the allegorization of race through the refiguring of Cleopatra, the allure of imperial popular culture, and the gender politics of medical technologies. She also examines the resistant poetics of exile and displacement; the staging of historical memory through the commemorations of the two 1492s, the anomalies of the “national” in Zionist discourse, the implications of the hyphen in the concept “Arab-Jew,” and the translation of the debates on orientalism and postcolonialism across geographies. Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices not only illuminates many of the concerns that have animated the study of cultural politics over the past two decades; it also points toward new scholarly possibilities.
In this pathbreaking work, Jasbir K. Puar argues that configurations of sexuality, race, gender, nation, class, and ethnicity are realigning in relation to contemporary forces of securitization, counterterrorism, and nationalism. She examines how liberal politics incorporate certain queer subjects into the fold of the nation-state, through developments including the legal recognition inherent in the overturning of anti-sodomy laws and the proliferation of more mainstream representation. These incorporations have shifted many queers from their construction as figures of death (via the AIDS epidemic) to subjects tied to ideas of life and productivity (gay marriage and reproductive kinship). Puar contends, however, that this tenuous inclusion of some queer subjects depends on the production of populations of Orientalized terrorist bodies. Heteronormative ideologies that the U.S. nation-state has long relied on are now accompanied by homonormative ideologies that replicate narrow racial, class, gender, and national ideals. These “homonationalisms” are deployed to distinguish upright “properly hetero,” and now “properly homo,” U.S. patriots from perversely sexualized and racialized terrorist look-a-likes—especially Sikhs, Muslims, and Arabs—who are cordoned off for detention and deportation.
Puar combines transnational feminist and queer theory, Foucauldian biopolitics, Deleuzian philosophy, and technoscience criticism, and draws from an extraordinary range of sources, including governmental texts, legal decisions, films, television, ethnographic data, queer media, and activist organizing materials and manifestos. Looking at various cultural events and phenomena, she highlights troublesome links between terrorism and sexuality: in feminist and queer responses to the Abu Ghraib photographs, in the triumphal responses to the Supreme Court’s Lawrence decision repealing anti-sodomy laws, in the measures Sikh Americans and South Asian diasporic queers take to avoid being profiled as terrorists, and in what Puar argues is a growing Islamophobia within global queer organizing.
Recently the distinguished feminist theorist Elizabeth Grosz has turned her critical acumen toward rethinking time and duration. Time Travels brings her trailblazing essays together to show how reconceptualizing temporality transforms and revitalizes key scholarly and political projects. In these essays, Grosz demonstrates how imagining different relations between the past, present, and future alters understandings of social and scientific projects ranging from theories of justice to evolutionary biology, and she explores the radical implications of the reordering of these projects for feminist, queer, and critical race theories.
Grosz’s reflections on how rethinking time might generate new understandings of nature, culture, subjectivity, and politics are wide ranging. She moves from a compelling argument that Charles Darwin’s notion of biological and cultural evolution can potentially benefit feminist, queer, and antiracist agendas to an exploration of modern jurisprudence’s reliance on the notion that justice is only immanent in the future and thus is always beyond reach. She examines Henri Bergson’s philosophy of duration in light of the writings of Gilles Deleuze, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and William James, and she discusses issues of sexual difference, identity, pleasure, and desire in relation to the thought of Deleuze, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, and Luce Irigaray. Together these essays demonstrate the broad scope and applicability of Grosz’s thinking about time as an undertheorized but uniquely productive force.
In Transnational America, Inderpal Grewal examines how the circulation of people, goods, social movements, and rights discourses during the 1990s created transnational subjects shaped by a global American culture. Rather than simply frame the United States as an imperialist nation-state that imposes unilateral political power in the world, Grewal analyzes how the concept of “America” functions as a nationalist discourse beyond the boundaries of the United States by disseminating an ideal of democratic citizenship through consumer practices. She develops her argument by focusing on South Asians in India and the United States.
Grewal combines a postcolonial perspective with social and cultural theory to argue that contemporary notions of gender, race, class, and nationality are linked to earlier histories of colonization. Through an analysis of Mattel’s sales of Barbie dolls in India, she discusses the consumption of American products by middle-class Indian women newly empowered with financial means created by India’s market liberalization. Considering the fate of asylum-seekers, Grewal looks at how a global feminism in which female refugees are figured as human rights victims emerged from a distinctly Western perspective. She reveals in the work of three novelists who emigrated from India to the United States—Bharati Mukherjee, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and Amitav Ghosh—a concept of Americanness linked to cosmopolitanism. In Transnational America Grewal makes a powerful, nuanced case that the United States must be understood—and studied—as a dynamic entity produced and transformed both within and far beyond its territorial boundaries.
Wayward Reproductions breaks apart and transfigures prevailing understandings of the interconnection among ideologies of racism, nationalism, and imperialism. Alys Eve Weinbaum demonstrates how these ideologies were founded in large part on what she calls “the race/reproduction bind”––the notion that race is something that is biologically reproduced. In revealing the centrality of ideas about women’s reproductive capacity to modernity’s intellectual foundations, Weinbaum highlights the role that these ideas have played in naturalizing oppression. She argues that attention to how the race/reproduction bind is perpetuated across national and disciplinary boundaries is a necessary part of efforts to combat racism.
Gracefully traversing a wide range of discourses––including literature, evolutionary theory, early anthropology, Marxism, feminism, and psychoanalysis––Weinbaum traces a genealogy of the race/reproduction bind within key intellectual formations of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She examines two major theorists of genealogical thinking—Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault—and unearths the unacknowledged ways their formulations link race and reproduction. She explores notions of kinship and the replication of racial difference that run through Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s work; Marxist thinking based on Friedrich Engel’s The Origin of the Family; Charles Darwin’s theory of sexual selection; and Sigmund Freud’s early studies on hysteria. She also describes W. E. B. Du Bois’s efforts to transcend ideas about the reproduction of race that underwrite citizenship and belonging within the United States. In a coda, Weinbaum brings the foregoing analysis to bear on recent genomic and biotechnological innovations.
For women, for lesbians and gays, for African Americans, for Asians, Native Americans, or any other self-identified and -identifying group, who can speak? Who has the authority to speak for these groups? Is there genuinely such a thing as "objectivity," or can only members of these groups speak, finally, for themselves? And who has the authority to decide who has the authority?
This collection examines how theory and criticism are complicated by
multiple perspectives in an increasingly multicultural society and
faces head on the difficult question of what qualifies a critic to speak from or about a particular position. In different formats and from different perspectives from various disciplines, the contributors to this volume analytically and innovatively work together to define the problems and capture the contradictions and tensions inherent in the issues of authority, epistemology, and discourse.
Why Stories Matter is a powerful critique of the stories that feminists tell about the past four decades of Western feminist theory. Clare Hemmings examines the narratives that make up feminist accounts of recent feminist history, highlights the ethical and political dilemmas raised by these narratives, and offers innovative strategies for transforming them. Drawing on her in-depth analysis of feminist journals, such as Signs, Feminist Review, and Feminist Theory, Hemmings argues that feminists portray the development of Western feminism through narratives of progress, loss, and return. Whether celebrating the move beyond unity or identity, lamenting the demise of a feminist political agenda, or proposing a return to a feminist vision from the past, by advancing these narratives feminists construct a mobile “political grammar” too easily adapted for postfeminist agendas. Hemmings insists that it is not enough for feminist theorists to lament what is most often perceived as the co-optation of feminism in global arenas. They must pay attention to the amenability of their own stories, narrative constructs, and grammatical forms to broader discursive uses of gender and feminism if history is not simply to repeat itself. Since citation practices and the mobilization of affect are central to how the narratives of progress, loss, and return persuade readers to suspend disbelief, they are also potential keys to telling the story of feminism’s past, present, and future differently.
"We thought the study of women would be a temporary phase; eventually we would all go back to our disciplines."—Gloria Bowles, From the Afterword
Since the 1970s, Women's Studies has grown from a volunteerist political project to a full-scale academic enterprise. Women's Studies on Its Own assesses the present and future of the field, demonstrating how institutionalization has extended a vital, ongoing intellectual project for a new generation of scholars and students.
Women’s Studies on Its Own considers the history, pedagogy, and curricula of Women’s Studies programs, as well as the field’s relation to the managed university. Both theoretically and institutionally grounded, the essays examine the pedagogical implications of various divisions of knowledge—racial, sexual, disciplinary, geopolitical, and economic. They look at the institutional practices that challenge and enable Women’s Studies—including interdisciplinarity, governance, administration, faculty review, professionalism, corporatism, fiscal autonomy, and fiscal constraint. Whether thinking about issues of academic labor, the impact of postcolonialism on Women’s Studies curricula, or the relation between education and the state, the contributors bring insight and wit to their theoretical deliberations on the shape of a transforming field. Contributors. Dale M. Bauer, Kathleen M. Blee, Gloria Bowles, Denise Cuthbert, Maryanne Dever, Anne Donadey, Laura Donaldson, Diane Elam, Susan Stanford Friedman, Judith Kegan Gardiner, Inderpal Grewal, Sneja Gunew, Miranda Joseph, Caren Kaplan, Rachel Lee, Devoney Looser, Jeanette McVicker, Minoo Moallem, Nancy A. Naples, Jane O. Newman, Lindsey Pollak, Jean C. Robinson, Sabina Sawhney, Jael Silliman, Sivagami Subbaraman, Robyn Warhol, Marcia Westkott, Robyn Wiegman, Bonnie Zimmerman
Women's Studies on the Edge
Joan Wallach Scott, ed. Duke University Press, 2008 Library of Congress HQ1180.W6878 2008 | Dewey Decimal 305.4
At many universities, women’s studies programs have achieved department status, establishing tenure-track appointments, graduate programs, and consistent course enrollments. Yet, as Joan Wallach Scott notes in her introduction to this collection, in the wake of its institutional successes, women’s studies has begun to lose its critical purchase. Feminism, the driving political force behind women’s studies, is often regarded as an outmoded political position by many of today’s students, and activism is no longer central to women’s studies programs on many campuses. In Women’s Studies on the Edge, leading feminist scholars tackle the critical, political, and institutional challenges that women’s studies has faced since its widespread integration into university curricula.
The contributors to Women’s Studies on the Edge embrace feminism not as a set of prescriptions but as a critical stance, one that seeks to interrogate and disrupt prevailing systems of gender. Refusing to perpetuate and protect orthodoxies, they ask tough questions about the impact of institutionalization on the once radical field of women’s studies; about the ongoing difficulties of articulating women’s studies with ethnic, queer, and race studies; and about the limits of liberal concepts of emancipation for understanding non-Western women. They also question the viability of continuing to ground women’s studies in identity politics authorized by personal experience. The multiple interpretations in Women’s Studies on the Edge sometimes overlap and sometimes stand in opposition to one another. The result is a collection that embodies the best aspects of critique: the intellectual and political stance that the contributors take to be feminism’s ethos and its aim.
Contributors Wendy Brown Beverly Guy-Sheftall Evelynn M. Hammonds Saba Mahmood Biddy Martin Afsaneh Najmabadi Ellen Rooney Gayle Salamon Joan Wallach Scott Robyn Wiegman