Activism

Celebrating International Women’s Day

InternationalWomensDay-portraitToday is International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Since the early 1900s, this day has been a powerful platform that unifies tenacity and drives action for gender parity globally. IWD organizers are calling on supporters to help forge a better-working and more gender-inclusive world. In honor of this year’s International Women’s Day, we are pleased to share these recent books and journals from Duke University Press that support this year’s IWD theme: #BeBoldForChange.

Trans/Feminisms
a special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly

tsq_new_prThis special double issue of TSQ goes beyond the simplistic dichotomy between an exclusionary transphobic feminism and an inclusive trans-affirming feminism. Exploring the ways in which trans issues are addressed within feminist and women’s organizations and social movements around the world, contributors ask how trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary issues are related to feminist movements today, what kind of work is currently undertaken in the name of trans/feminism, what new paradigms and visions are emerging, and what questions still need to be taken up. Central to this special issue is the recognition that trans/feminist politics cannot restrict itself to the domain of gender alone.

This issue features numerous shorter works that represent the diversity of trans/feminist practices and problematics and, in addition to original research articles, includes theory, reports, manifestos, opinion pieces, reviews, and creative/artistic productions, as well as republished key documents of trans/feminist history and international scholarship.

Living a Feminist Life

978-0-8223-6319-4In Living a Feminist Life Sara Ahmed shows how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. Building on legacies of feminist of color scholarship in particular, Ahmed offers a poetic and personal meditation on how feminists become estranged from worlds they critique—often by naming and calling attention to problems—and how feminists learn about worlds from their efforts to transform them. Ahmed also provides her most sustained commentary on the figure of the feminist killjoy introduced in her earlier work while showing how feminists create inventive solutions—such as forming support systems—to survive the shattering experiences of facing the walls of racism and sexism. The killjoy survival kit and killjoy manifesto, with which the book concludes, supply practical tools for how to live a feminist life, thereby strengthening the ties between the inventive creation of feminist theory and living a life that sustains it.

1970s Feminisms
a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly

ddsaq_114_4For more than a decade, feminist historians and historiographers have engaged in challenging the “third wave” portrait of 1970s feminism as essentialist, white, middle-class, uninterested in racism, and theoretically naive. This task has involved setting the record straight about women’s liberation by interrogating how that image took hold in the public imagination and among academic feminists. This issue invites feminist theorists to return to women’s liberation—to the texts, genres, and cultural productions to which the movement gave rise—for a more nuanced look at its conceptual and political consequences. The essays in this issue explore such topics as the ambivalent legacies of women’s liberation; the production of feminist subjectivity in mass culture and abortion documentaries; the political effects of archiving Chicana feminism; and conceptual and generic innovations in the work of Gayle Rubin, Christine Delphy, and Shulamith Firestone.

The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland

978-0-8223-6286-9In The Revolution Has Come Robyn C. Spencer traces the Black Panther Party’s organizational evolution in Oakland, California, where hundreds of young people came to political awareness and journeyed to adulthood as members. Challenging the belief that the Panthers were a projection of the leadership, Spencer draws on interviews with rank-and-file members, FBI files, and archival materials to examine the impact the organization’s internal politics and COINTELPRO’s political repression had on its evolution and dissolution. She shows how the Panthers’ members interpreted, implemented, and influenced party ideology and programs; initiated dialogues about gender politics; highlighted ambiguities in the Panthers’ armed stance; and criticized organizational priorities. Spencer also centers gender politics and the experiences of women and their contributions to the Panthers and the Black Power movement as a whole. Providing a panoramic view of the party’s organization over its sixteen-year history, The Revolution Has Come shows how the Black Panthers embodied Black Power through the party’s international activism, interracial alliances, commitment to address state violence, and desire to foster self-determination in Oakland’s black communities.

Reconsidering Gender, Violence, and the State
a special issue of Radical History Review

ddrhr_126In bringing together a geographically and temporally broad range of interdisciplinary historical scholarship, this issue of Radical History Review offers an expansive examination of gender, violence, and the state. Through analyses of New York penitentiaries, anarchists in early twentieth-century Japan, and militarism in the 1990s, contributors reconsider how historical conceptions of masculinity and femininity inform the persistence of and punishments for gendered violence. The contributors to a section on violence and activism challenge the efficacy of state solutions to gendered violence in a contemporary US context, highlighting alternatives posited by radical feminist and queer activists. In five case studies drawn from South Africa, India, Ireland, East Asia, and Nigeria, contributors analyze the archive’s role in shaping current attitudes toward gender, violence, and the state, as well as its lasting imprint on future quests for restitution or reconciliation. This issue also features a visual essay on the “false positives” killings in Colombia and an exploration of Zanale Muholi’s postapartheid activist photography.

Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology

978-0-8223-6295-1The editors and contributors to Color of Violence ask: What would it take to end violence against women of color? Presenting the fierce and vital writing of INCITE!’s organizers, lawyers, scholars, poets, and policy makers, Color of Violence radically repositions the antiviolence movement by putting women of color at its center. The contributors shift the focus from domestic violence and sexual assault and map innovative strategies of movement building and resistance used by women of color around the world. The volume’s thirty pieces—which include poems, short essays, position papers, letters, and personal reflections—cover violence against women of color in its myriad forms, manifestations, and settings, while identifying the links between gender, militarism, reproductive and economic violence, prisons and policing, colonialism, and war. At a time of heightened state surveillance and repression of people of color, Color of Violence is an essential intervention.

World Policy Interrupted
a special issue of World Policy Journal

wpj33_4_23_frontcover_fppThis issue is penned entirely by female foreign policy experts and journalists and “imagines a world where we wouldn’t need to interpret to be heard at the table. In reconstructing a media landscape where the majority of foreign policy experts quoted, bylined, and miked are not men, we quickly gain deeper insight into a complex world, one historically narrated by only one segment of society,” co-editors Elmira Bayrasli and Lauren Bohn write. Bayrasli and Bohn lead Foreign Policy Interrupted, a program that mentors, develops, and amplifies the voices of women in the international policy field. Foreign Policy Interrupted combats the industry’s gender disparity through a visibility platform and a cohesive fellowship program, including media training and meaningful mentoring at partnering media institutions. The program helps women break both internal and external barriers.

Stay up to date on women’s studies scholarship with these journals on gender studies, feminist theory, queer theory, and gay and lesbian studies:

Camera Obscura
differences
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies

 

The Power of Misinterpellation

Today’s guest post is by James Martel, author of new book The Misinterpellated Subject.

James MartelIn all the sense of crisis and doom that we are currently experiencing with the advent of the Trump administration—despair over an administration that seems equal parts determined fascists and incompetent lunatics, horror and grim determination as thousands, perhaps millions, of people are to be deported, bathrooms becomes zones of exclusion and the war on people of color and the poor goes on unabated—there is one element that is critical to keep in mind. For all of his seeming power, self-confidence and authority, Donald Trump and his “alt-right” (i.e. neo-Nazi) minions do not command the absolute form of control that they think they have and we often imagine them to have (hence contributing to the efficacy of such a power).

On one level this is very obvious—witness the disastrous roll out of the ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim nations as an example of this impotence within apparent potency. But beneath the empirical reality of Trump’s failures (and successes) lies a deeper, more critical point; executive pronouncements can be declared with all the markings of sovereign authority, but they are never received in exactly the way they are intended; they never have the full effect that their speaker desires. Some of this can be explained by language theory, by the idea, championed by thinkers like J.A. Austin, that speech acts don’t always do what we think they do. The Misinterpellated SubjectBut there is also a more political version of this discussion, and this is where my new book, The Misinterpellated Subject, attempts to make an intervention. In the book, I argue that Althusser’s theory of interpellation—the process by which people are formed as subjects of the state in response to calls from authority figures (his famous example is of a police officer hailing a pedestrian by calling out “hey, you there!”)—contains within it the seeds of its own unmaking. The call goes out and Althusser tells us that “nine times out of ten” the person hailed is “really” the person intended by the law. But what about the one person in ten that is wrongly hailed? In The Misinterpellated Subject, I argue that in fact, the hail is never accurate. The law, or the state, never knows (or cares) who it is hailing; it is a pretense of authority that is reinforced by our willingness to receive that call, to see it as being “really for us.” But in some cases, this charade becomes untenable (one time in ten) and the authority of the call fails to produce its intended results.

This is the phenomenon that I am calling misinterpellation. Whereas the failure of the call is only visible some of the time, the key insight of misinteprellation is that the failure of the call is present in each and every moment (that is, even among the nine out of ten times where the callee is “really” who the law thinks it intended to call).

If we take this insight back to the question of Trump, we can see that his call to ban Muslims from the United States was met in many ways that he did not want or expect. This call was heard by the protestors who blocked the airports. It was heard by judges who resisted him. It was heard by those refugees themselves who continued to resist, to insist on their right to remain. It was even heard in myriad ways by the officials at Homeland Security and other federal agencies that often contradicted one another as well as the “official position” (itself a moving target).

All of this is critical for thinking about the power (and also the failure) of interpellation, of executive calls and the triumph of illicit power; it works when we respond as the state wishes, when we think that we have no choice but to respond. But all that changes when the subject of that call realizes that the call is not really about or for her, that the call is only made for the sake of the power of the state itself; the state needs us to recognize it or it fails to exist at all.

And therein lies the critical power of resistance. This power of misinterpellation can manifest itself as demonstrations and protests but it can also manifest itself as something far more subversive. If we simply say “no” to the call, we remain, in a way, inside the workings of interpellation. We are protestors, miscreants and rebels, and the law and the state know how to deal with that (witness Trump’s tweets about “professional anarchists” and the like). But if we render the call “incredible” (to cite Judith Butler), we move from simply rejecting the call to denying it as being a call at all. The more we understand that the call is never for us, never could be for us—that is to say, the more we are misinterpellated—the more we see the hollowness or emptiness of the state and its authority structures. By seeing the call as nothing, we can, in effect, return the state to its own nothing, the void from which it comes and which it ceaselessly seeks to deny.

In all the despair of our current moment, one bit of good news is that this power (perhaps counter-power is a better word) can never be taken away from us, regardless of how dark the time or how terrifying the tyrant that we face (recognizing that not all communities face the same traumas and that the “we” itself is a deep point of contention). My book argues that there is always recourse to the subversive force of misinterpellation; in doing so, we gain not just the destruction of our false, colonized and interpellated forms of subjectivity, but also the anarchist ferment—the multiple, overlapping and ungoverned beings that we’ve always been—which shows up in response to a call that never has been, and never will be, for anyone at all.

To learn more about or purchase The Misinterpellated Subject, visit its webpage. You can also read the introduction free online.

Trans-Political Economy

ddtsq_4_1The most recent issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, “Trans-Political Economy,” edited by Dan Irving and Vek Lewis, addresses how capitalism differentially and unequally affects trans and sex/gender‐diverse people across the globe.

“We all, from our different social and political locations, become implicated in those architectures through our everyday interactions with a variety of coordinated and contradictory institutions and rationalities that order our lives across different local and global geopolitical spaces and scales,” write Irving and Lewis.

The editors and contributors to this issue reveal how the narrowly constructed objects of trans studies and political economy (such as gender, labor, class, and economy) have been complicit in the necropolitical devaluation of trans lives and existing strategies crafted for trans survival. Topics include trans visibility and commodity culture; trans credit reporting; the growing population of T-girls, trans women truckers; trans street-based sex workers; the system of sex/gender identification for trans asylum seekers in South Africa; waria affective labor in Indonesia; as well as a roundtable deconstructing trans* political economy.

The Arts & Culture section of this issue features a review of season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in relation to some of the political economic elements of the drag industry as well as an in depth look at the representation of transgender lives on film, specifically in The Dallas Buyer’s Club.

Read the guest editor’s introduction to the issue, made freely available.

Feminist Perspectives on the 2016 Military Coup Attempt and Its Aftermath in Turkey

We are pleased to share this guest blog post by Banu Gökarıksel, co-editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. The most recent issue of the journal, volume 13 and issue 1, features a special forum on Feminist Perspectives on the 2016 Coup Attempt and its Aftermath in Turkey.

ddmew_13_1Feminist critiques of political power reveal the central function of gender, sexuality, and difference in maintaining that power. Yet, in current events, a feminist geopolitics is rarely considered and has been absent from analysis of the 2016 coup attempt and its aftermath in Turkey. Much more than tallying the number of women who participated in protesting against the coup, a feminist approach reveals the ways in which the coup attempt (and responses to it) in Turkey relied on the exercise of masculine discursive and material power (Gökarıksel 2017). Violence was both engineered by a powerful institution, the Turkish military, as well as opposed by the political power of the AKP backed by other state institutions such as the police and gendarme. Both coup plotters and their opponents played a significant role in constructing and symbolizing normative masculinity and heterosexuality (Arat 2017). The eruption of violence reinforced the hegemonic relationship between the military, the state, and the nation (Açıksöz 2017; Korkman 2017).

Feminist critique reveals that under President Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership, the AKP government has taken increasingly repressive and alarmingly authoritarian measures against minorities, women, and girls (Arat 2017), and has galvanized a populist nationalist masculinity that Erdoğan himself embodies. The crowds of civilian men, police officers, and anti-coup soldiers who fought against the putschists, sometimes without any weapons, also legitimate and embolden a nationalist masculinity built on religious and social conservatism and populism.

The stepping up of its war against the Kurds is part of the government’s attempt to reestablish its nationalist and patriarchal power. Despite the magnitude of horror and human cost of this war, it could be thought in connection to a regulation for the chemical castration of sex offenders (Korkman 2017) and the ‘rape’ bill proposal introduced in November 2016 (that would have absolved rapists who marry their victims under 18 years of age from any criminal punishment but met with huge demonstrations and did not secure enough votes to pass). Without attending to the bolstering of this masculinist power in the streets and in government, analysts miss a crucial dimension of how a political environment of fear and intimidation has been legitimated and how violence and militarization have recast Turkish subjects.

The coup attempt on 15 July 2016 was unexpected but not entirely surprising given Turkey’s history. What was surprising was what happened afterwards. Following Erdoğan’s call to defend democracy over a FaceTime call broadcast live on television and constant prayer calls from minarets, people in huge numbers poured out to the streets, breaking the curfew. Although some women were present (Akınerdem 2017; Başdaş 2017), the overwhelming majority were men. The civilian men joined the police and anti-coup soldiers to fight against the putchists. Waving Turkish flags and shouting “Ya Allah, Bismillah, Allahuekber”, they attacked soldiers and tanks.

By the following morning it was clear that the coup attempt had failed. 241 people were killed and more than two thousand were injured during the coup. Crowds came out to occupy public squares to celebrate the defeat of the putschists in ‘democracy vigil’s that continued for weeks (Açıkerdem 2017). Some of the people who attended these democracy vigils did not seem to fully support democratic ideals and norms, asking for the immediate hanging of all the putschists (Başdaş 2017) and declaring unconditional loyalty to Erdoğan’s leadership.

The Turkish government’s reaction to the coup attempt has also been to the detriment of an already deteriorating democratic environment in which freedoms and rights of most citizens, mostly importantly of women and minorities have been increasingly restricted. Initiating a familiar re-militarization of society (Açıksöz 2017), the AKP government quickly and violently acted to restore its masculinist power, repressing any expression of difference from its normative Turkish citizenship. It declared a state of emergency which persists and strengthened its grip on power through arrests, purges, travel bans, and property seizures. The initial targets expanded from coup plotters, supporters, and anyone associated with Fethullah Gülen’s hizmet movement, which the government alleges masterminded the coup, to all critics of government policies, especially its war against the Kurds. Hundreds have been detained or arrested; thousands have been fired from their jobs or forced to resign; over one hundred media outlets have been closed down since July. Academics who signed a peace petition, journalists who wrote anything critical of the government continue to become targets as late as February 2017.

The coup attempt and the AKP’s response to it are manifestations of masculinist political power. The aggressive, violent masculinities that the coup attempt and its aftermath bolstered constitute the architecture of a security state. Political power is never gender-neutral but works through gendered and sexual production of bodies that belong and that do not, that need protection and that are threats, and through the gendered and sexual construction of borders and territory. A feminist critique provides insights into the production of an environment of increasing consolidation of masculinist power, rhetoric of national unity, violence, and militarism (Açıksöz 2017; Akınerdem 2017; Arat 2017; Başdaş 2017; Gökarıksel 2017; Korkman 2017). But it also shows the possibilities for building solidarities and working towards a different future built on pluralism, non-violence, and peace.

Read the Special Forum: Feminist Perspectives on the 2016 Coup Attempt and its Aftermath in Turkey here.

Shed Walls, Don’t Build Them

Today’s guest post is by Emilia Sanabria, author of Plastic Bodies: Sex Hormones and Menstrual Suppression in Brazil.

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Mark Dixon, CC BY 2.0, flickr.com/photos/9602574@N02/31638096493

One set of signs from the Women’s March following Trump’s inauguration caught my attention. It read “Shed walls, don’t build them” over the drawing of a womb. Shedding walls, here, means menstruating (lest the point need to be spelled out).

The slogan is part of a move to normalize menstruation and put out into the public domain what continues to be a cultural taboo, something women are exhorted to conceal and manage, privately. In the wake of Trump’s outrageous sexist comments, his onslaught on sexual and reproductive rights, and the reintroduction of the global gag rule, millions of women took to the streets (again) to defend their right to dispose of their bodies, and to denounce the objectifying ways in which women’s bodies have been portrayed by the new president elect. Trump asserted that broadcaster Megyn Kelly, who steadfastly questioned him about his record of sexual harassment, had “Blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever,” which many took as a reference to the fact that she was irrational because she was menstruating. There followed a massive movement of women live-tweeting their periods to Trump using the hasthtag #PeriodIsNotAnInsult.

The invitation to “shed [uterine] walls” rather than build unaffordable, unbuildable and racist ones, speaks to a core issue I address in Plastic Bodies. The book explores the genesis, practice and discourse of “menstrual suppression”, which proposes that women’s monthly menstrual cycles are unnecessary: a useless waste of blood. Menstrual suppression involves the use of pharmaceutical sex hormones, from extended regime oral contraceptives (Seasonique™, Lybrel™) to hormonal injections (Depo-Provera™), implants (Implanon™) or intra-uterine devices (Mirena™). (Watch Giovana Chesler’s fabulous documentary Period: The End of Menstruation for a cinematographic analysis of the debate.) These methods are widespread in the Global South as part of the arsenal of birth control strategies. Brazil, where the ethnographic research for Plastic Bodies was carried out, has been a theatre of experimental hormonal practices for decades (yielding much of the data that legitimated menstrual suppression drugs for Western markets).

978-0-8223-6161-9In Plastic Bodies I trace the emergence of a (pharmaceutical industry-driven) discourse concerning the purported “unnaturalness” of regular menstruation. The menstrual suppression debate is founded on two claims. The first differentiates the menstrual bleeding pattern experienced by oral contraceptive pill users from “natural” menstruation and suggests that the former, because of its artificial nature, is superfluous. The second denaturalizes regular menstruation, arguing that this is a “new biological state”, since “in the past” or in “tribal” contexts women reached menarche later, had more children, and breastfed them longer than “modern” women do. Menstrual suppression is thus framed by its advocates as a means of returning the reproductive organs to their “original” (read: natural) state. This appeal to the distinction between nature and artifice carries, in Brazil, particular values as I detail in the book.

Menstrual activism of the kind associated with the slogan “Shed Walls” performs a particular kind of gendered politics. It questions the medicalization of women’s bodies and provides a feminist and anticapitalist reading of menstrual shame and the rationales driving the menstrual suppression and menstrual hygiene industries. However, menstrual activism positions itself ambiguously in relation to the “natural” female body.

Rather than side with or against the idea that menstruation (shedding walls) is a natural feature of women’s bodies, I suggest that the recognition of the body’s cyclical nature and the practice of using hormones to suppress menstruation construe the body as plastic. Plasticity refers both to the capacity to give and receive form. It points to a radical tension between biological contingency and technological possibility. What is at stake here is a question about the function of the uterus and the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle beyond reproduction. This indicates the extent to which the noncyclical (male) body remains an implicit norm. For, as my feminist colleagues are quick to note, sperm production in the absence of reproduction is never qualified as “unnecessary” or “wasteful,” let alone pathological.

When I wrote Plastic Bodies reproductive rights and gendered normativities continued to be acute in Brazil, but were perhaps felt less urgently at stake in the US or Western Europe. The momentous conservative backlash that marks 2017 reveals how fragile these hard-fought victories are and how ferociously they need to be defended. However, as I argue in Plastic Bodies, the distinction between nature/culture is not the place to ground our political response. Grounding a feminist resistance in women’s anatomy is risky and deeply problematic. It relies on an apolitical understanding of biology that is oftentimes blind to race, trans-, queer- and non-reproductive personhood. (As one African-American woman pointed out to a dear friend of mine when she saw the Women’s March pink pussy hats: “my pussy isn’t pink.”) In the leaked draft of a forthcoming executive order on religious freedom, marriage is upheld as the union of one man and one woman as referring to “an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics.” In this context, perhaps the concept of plasticity can serve as a tool among the important repertoire of feminist responses that can trouble such neoconservative appeals to immutable biology.

To learn more about Plastic Bodies or order a copy, visit its webpage.

Climate Change and the Production of Knowledge

saq_116_1Though the causes and effects of climate change pervade our everyday lives—the air we breathe, the food we eat, the objects we use—the way the discourse of climate change influences how we make meaning of ourselves and our world is still unexplored. Contributors to this special issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly, “Climate Change and the Production of Knowledge,” bring diverse perspectives to the ways that climate change science and discourse have reshaped the contemporary architecture of knowledge itself: reconstituting intellectual disciplines and artistic practices, redrawing and dissolving boundaries, and reframing how knowledge is represented and disseminated.

The contributors address the emergence of global warming discourse in fields like history, journalism, anthropology, and the visual arts; the collaborative study of climate change between the human and material sciences; and the impact of climate change on forms of representation and dissemination in this new interdisciplinary landscape.

In “Environmental Activism across the Pacific,” this issue’s Against the Day section, contributors address forms of activism in which people seek to protect continuingly creative but ordinary life processes that conflict with imagined or emergent military bases, plantations, tourism infrastructures, and mines. From the introduction to the section:

It may be tempting to tell stories that focus only on the immensity and exceptionality of such contemporary ecological crises, but there are more stories to be told of the Pacific. The essays collected here not only reveal engagement with deeper trajectories of both violence and resistance, but also explore activism that maintains and constructs modes of life and relations of care among humans, the land, the ocean, and other beings.

Read the essays in this section, made freely available through July 2017.

Against the Day is a thematic section composed of short essays that engage topics of contemporary political importance. The title, “Against the Day,” is meant to highlight both the modes of activism and the specific occasion that the essays address.

The Black Panther Party and Black Anti-Fascism in the United States

The Revolution Has Come by Robyn C. SpencerToday’s guest post comes to us from Robyn C. Spencer, author of the new book The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland.

Fascism has been thrust into the mainstream political vocabulary of the United States after the election of President Donald Trump on a platform grounded in xenophobia, corporate dominance, and right wing white nationalism.  After the election, search engines and online dictionaries reported a dramatic increase in users seeking to define the term. News outlets from Al Jazeera (“The Foul Stench of Fascism in the Air”) to Forbes (“Yes, a Trump presidency would bring fascism to America”)  to the Washington Post  (“Donald Trump is actually a fascist”) published articles analyzing how Trump fits into fascist paradigms. Most recently, The Nation (“Anti-Fascists Will Fight Trump’s Fascism in the Streets”) chronicled the long history of anti-fascist organizing in Europe and the United States to inspire activists engaged in resistance at this political moment. Black history has been marginalized in this burgeoning contemporary discourse about fascism. Analyses of the US as fascist have a long history in the Black intellectual tradition. Black thinkers like Harry Hayward, Claudia Jones, George Jackson and Kuwasi Balagoon used fascism as an analytical framework to understand the rise of segregation in the South after Reconstruction; white populism at the turn of the 19th century; land and labor struggles in the Black Belt South, and the evolution of capitalism in the 1970s.

United Front Against Fascism by Georgi DimitroffThe Black Panther Party played a prominent role in the modern history of Black anti-fascism. Panther leaders were deeply influenced by “The United Front Against Fascism,” a report by Georgi Dimitroff delivered at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in July-August 1935.

By 1969, the Panthers began to use fascism as a theoretical framework to critique US political economy. They defined fascism as “the power of finance capital” which “manifests itself not only as banks, trusts and monopolies but also as the human property of FINANCE CAPITAL – the avaricious businessman, the demagogic politician, and the racist pig cop.” The Black Panther newspaper began to feature excerpts from Dimitroff’s writings and articles with titles such as “Fascist Pigs must withdraw their troops from our communities or face the wrath of the armed people,” “Students Struggle Against Fascism,” and “Medicine and Fascism.”  The Panthers advertised local showings of films like Z about fascism in Greece and used their iconic artwork as a cultural tool to visually demonstrate anti-fascist resistance.

In July 1969 close to 5,000 activists from organizations like the Black Students Union, Communist Party USA, Los Siete de la Raza, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Students for a Democratic Society, Third World Liberation Front, Young Lords, Young Patriots, Youth Against War and Fascism, and the Progressive Labor Party flocked to Oakland, California’s Municipal auditorium in response to the Black Panther Party’s call for allies to gather and strategize against fascist conditions in the United States.  This United Front Against Fascism (UFAF) conference was an important moment in the history of the Black Freedom movement and the New Left. The Panthers hoped to create a “national force” with a “common revolutionary ideology and political program which answers the basic desires and needs of all people in fascist, capitalist, racist America.” At the opening session, Seale called for unity of action arguing that “we will not be free until Brown, Red, Yellow, Black, and all other peoples of color are unchained.”

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Recent Journal Issues on Gender, Violence, War, and Religion

The intersection between gender, violence, war, religion, and race are featured in several recent special issues of Radical History ReviewSocial Text, and the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. Read more about the issues featured and sample several articles made freely available.

ddrhr_126In bringing together a geographically and temporally broad range of interdisciplinary historical scholarship, “Reconsidering Gender, Violence, and the State,” a special issue of Radical History Review, offers an expansive examination of gender, violence, and the state. Through analyses of New York penitentiaries, anarchists in early twentieth-century Japan, and militarism in the 1990s, contributors reconsider how historical conceptions of masculinity and femininity inform the persistence of and punishments for gendered violence. The contributors to a section on violence and activism challenge the efficacy of state solutions to gendered violence in a contemporary US context, highlighting alternatives posited by radical feminist and queer activists. In five case studies drawn from South Africa, India, Ireland, East Asia, and Nigeria, contributors analyze the archive’s role in shaping current attitudes toward gender, violence, and the state, as well as its lasting imprint on future quests for restitution or reconciliation. This issue also features a visual essay on the “false positives” killings in Colombia and an exploration of Zanale Muholi’s postapartheid activist photographyRead the introduction, made freely available.

stx129covprintIn “Race/Religion/War,” a special issue of Social Text edited by Keith P. Feldman and Leerom Medovoi, contributors query long-standing entanglements among the respective epistemologies of race, religion, and war as they organize modern strategies of knowledge and power. They investigate how a logic of permanent warfare underwrites both the international intensification of Islamophobia and the emergence and deployment of an expanding set of security apparatuses whose categorical, geographic, and historical permeability define warfare as radically open-ended. At the same time, the issue seeks to draw attention to long genealogies of race, religion, and war that both contextualize their contemporary braiding and offer political countermemories against which we can make sense of our baleful present.

Drawing on diverse critical traditions, its contributors raise questions such as: What is the relationship of the race/religion/war triad to the modern history of the militarized state? How have certain forms of war-making produced some kinds of race-making or religion-formation, while perhaps unmaking others? Does racial modernity emerge out of the secularization of religious war? How are the religious and racial dimensions of modern colonialism and settler colonialism co-articulated? Read the introduction to the issue, made freely available.

ddmew_12_3In the most recent issue of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, “The Gender and Sexuality of Militarization and War,” contributors focus on the gender and sexuality of militarization, war, and violence. Topics include the gendered representations of violence during and after the 2011 revolutions in Syria and Egypt and how they have impacted men and women, reading Israeli, Iraqi, and Yemeni literature to understand fraught and often violent relationships between Jews and Israelis and Muslims and Arabs, and examining the meanings attached to women’s performance of identity, citizenship, and political agency in Turkey in the early twenty-first century.

From the preface by feminist scholar Cynthia Enloe:

These researchers reveal the diversity of women’s experiences, imaginations, images, and political analyses both within a single country, such as Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, or Syria, and also across the region.Women are not “just women.” These articles also underscore the interactions of diverse women, historically and socially situated women, with the diverse men of their communities, men who have been both perpetrators and targets of sexualized and unsexualized violence and who are trying to make their own sense of their roles in that violence. Reading these articles together helps us all, I think, understand how crucial it is to absorb complexities when plunging into the gendered lives of women and men making their lives in militarized societies. This is what the Syrian women civil society activists are calling on the men in Geneva to do. This is what they, together with the authors of these provocative articles, are calling on each of us to do.

Read Edith Szanto’s article from the issue, “Depicting Victims, Heroines, and Pawns in the Syrian Uprising,” made freely available.

 

David Scott wins CELJ Distinguished Editor Award for 2016

0105171630Congratulations to David Scott, editor of Small Axe, for his 2016 Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) Distinguished Editor Award. The awards were announced on Thursday, January 5, 2017, during the 2017 Modern Language Association annual meeting held in Philadelphia.

The Distinguished Editor Award is given to an editor who has had a major influence on the field of scholarship in which they publish. Small Axe focuses on publishing critical work that examines the ideas that guided the formation of Caribbean modernities. It mainly includes scholarly articles, opinion essays, and interviews, but it also includes literary works of fiction and poetry, visual arts, and reviews.

ddsmx_20_2_50The journal, now in its 20th volume, just published its 50th issue, “What is Journal Work?” which features a preface by David Scott on the journal and the ethos of journal work. From the preface:

When, in the company of a few fellow travelers, I initiated Small Axe in Kingston in 1996–97, many people said to me, confidentially and with my interest in view, that it would be at best a short-lived enterprise. It was grand, yes, ambitious even, but it wouldn’t last. That was always the thing—it wouldn’t last. Nothing like it did. The Caribbean is awash, they knowingly said, with well-intentioned initiatives that run aground sooner than later. In fact, nothing is more characteristic of Caribbean intellectual life than this penchant for starting new ventures that never have any chance whatsoever of reproducing themselves. And so on . . . Now, honestly,I never took these prophecies of doom to be expressions of ill will, of what Jamaicans lyrically call badmindedness—though of course they might well have been. After all, the truth is that I too was wondering, not because of a wavering or uncertain commitment on my part, need‐less to say, but as a matter, if you like, of thinking the future in the present. Beginnings are one thing, hard enough, to be sure. But what would “lasting” mean? What would be the point at which Small Axe could be said to have “lasted”? These were, in part, abstract questions(in any case, I brushed them aside) because although I was always self-conscious of seeking something larger in the Small Axe initiative (remember, New World Quarterly and Savacou were the models I had before me, and they styled themselves as expressions of “movements”), I was at that early point literally feeling my way from one issue of the journal to the next. And from the haphazard and chaotic inside of each of these issues, encountering and resolving their specific challenges, it was impossible to discern what they would add up to—whether the shape of something more than the sum of all the issues put together would emerge from within what we were anyway carrying on with.

David Scott has edited Small Axe since its inception in 1997. To learn more about the journal and to read a sample issue, visit smallaxe.dukejournals.org.

World Policy Interrupted

wpj33_4_23_frontcover_fppWorld Policy Interrupted,” the most recent issue of World Policy Journal, is penned entirely by female foreign policy experts and journalists and “imagines a world where we wouldn’t need to interpret to be heard at the table. In reconstructing a media landscape where the majority of foreign policy experts quoted, bylined, and miked are not men, we quickly gain deeper insight into a complex world, one historically narrated by only one segment of society,” co-editors Elmira Bayrasli and Lauren Bohn write.

Bayrasli and Bohn lead Foreign Policy Interrupted, a program that mentors, develops, and amplifies the voices of women in the international policy field. Foreign Policy Interrupted combats the industry’s gender disparity through a visibility platform and a cohesive fellowship program, including media training and meaningful mentoring at partnering media institutions. The program helps women break both internal and external barriers.

Contributors to this issue address topics such as feminism in China, abortion laws across the Americas, combating violent extremism by working with religious leaderswomen in media, and a conversation with Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritus. Browse the full table-of-contents here.

From the Editor’s Note:

When you incubate diverse voices, you incubate diverse ideas and diverse approaches to foreign policy challenges. This all-women’s issue is a testament to that. When we don’t see women and hear their opinions, we marginalize them. We feed the unconscious bias that men are policymakers and women are not. This Interrupted issue challenges and changes that perception by showcasing the voices of female experts and leaders.

Read the full Editor’s Note, made freely available.