Feminist Studies

New Books in December

As the weather cools and the holiday season approaches, treat yourself to one of our great new December titles!

Cover of On Paradox: The Claims of Theory by Elizabeth S. Anker. Cover features the title in large all-caps blue font against a plain white background.

In On Paradox, Elizabeth S. Anker contends that the faith in the logic of paradox has been the watermark of left intellectualism since the second half of the twentieth century, showing how paradox generates the very exclusions it critiques and undercuts theory’s commitment to social justice.

Piro Rexhepi explores the overlapping postsocialist and postcolonial border regimes in the Balkans that are designed to protect whiteness and exclude Muslim, Roma, and migrant communities in White Enclosures.

The contributors to Turning Archival, edited by Daniel Marshall and Zeb Tortorici, trace the rise of “the archive” as an object of historical desire and study within queer studies and examine how it fosters historical imagination and knowledge.

In Feltness, Stephanie Springgay considers socially engaged art as a practice of research-creation that germinates a radical pedagogy she calls feltness—a set of intimate practices of creating art based on touch, affect, relationality, love, and responsibility.

Cover of Ain't But a Few of Us: Black Music Writiers Tell Their Stories by Willard Jenkins. Cover features pink spotted border on left with purple background to the right. Various sized rectangles across the center feature pictures of hands, somone writing, and instruments. Orange subtitle is bottom-right of images, white title is above, and word US in captial pink. Author's name is below-right images in yellow.

Ain’t But a Few of Us, edited by Willard Jenkins, presents over two dozen candid dialogues with Black jazz critics and journalists who discuss the barriers to access for Black jazz critics and how they contend with the world of jazz writing dominated by white men.

In Poverty and Wealth in East Africa, Rhiannon Stephens offers a conceptual history of how people living in eastern Uganda have sustained and changed their ways of thinking about wealth and poverty over the past two thousand years.

Examining a wide range of photography from across the global South, the contributors to Cold War Camera, edited by Thy Phu, Erina Duganne, and Andrea Noble, explore the visual mediation of the Cold War, illuminating how photography shaped how it was prosecuted and experienced.

In Memory Construction and the Politics of Time in Neoliberal South Korea, Namhee Lee explores how social memory and neoliberal governance in post-1987 South Korea have disavowed the revolutionary politics of the past.

Cover of New Growth: The Art and Texture of Black Hair by Jasmine Nichole Cobb. Cover is red with black and white lettering and features a historical picture of a Black woman in a low-cut dress in the middle. Where her hair would be is a collection of black brush strokes so that she looks like she is wearing a large wig or hat. Underneath her image, upside down, text reads "the strange sit-in that changed a city."

Through close readings of slave narratives, scrapbooks, travel illustration, documentary film and photography, as well as collage, craft, and sculpture, Jasmine Nichole Cobb explores Black hair as a visual material through which to reimagine the sensual experience of Blackness in New Growth.

The contributors to New World Orderings, edited by Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas, demonstrate that China’s twenty-first-century rise occurs not only through economics and state politics, but equally through its relationships and interactions with the Global South.

Focusing on his personal day to day experiences of the “shelter-in-place” period during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, Alberto Moreiras offers a meditation on intellectual life and the nature of thought under the suspension of time and conditions of isolation in Uncanny Rest.

Cover of Ruderal City: Ecologies of Migration, Race, and Urban Nature in Berlin by Bettina Stoetzer. Cover is a photograph focused on a small patch of a yellow flower bush. In the background past the bush is an out of focus bridge with a yellow train on it. The sky is blue.

In Ruderal City, Bettina Stoetzer traces the more-than-human relationships between people, plants, and animals in contemporary Berlin, showing how Berlin’s “urban nature” becomes a key site in which notions of citizenship and belonging as well as racialized, gendered, and classed inequalities become apparent.

Veit Erlmann examines the role of copyright law in post-apartheid South Africa and its impact on the South African music industry in Lion’s Share, showing how copyright is inextricably entwined with race, popular music, postcolonial governance, indigenous rights, and the struggle to create a more equitable society.

Rumya Sree Putcha uses the figure of the Indian classical dancer to explore the complex dynamics of contemporary transnational Indian womanhood in The Dancer′s Voice.

In Feminism in Coalition Liza Taylor examines how U.S. women of color feminists’ coalitional collective politics of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s is an indispensable resource to contemporary political theory, feminist studies, and intersectional social justice activism.

Cover of Cooling the Tropics: Ice, Indigeneity, and Hawaiian Refreshment by Hi'ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart. White title centered and transparent with "the" centered left and transparent white subtitle to the right. Background features a blue tinged picture of girl eating ice cream in front of light blue, purple, pink, and orange/yellow blended background. Author name in all caps in blue along bottom.

Hiʻilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart charts the social history of ice in Hawaiʻi in Cooling the Tropics, showing how ice and refrigeration underpinned settler colonial ideas about race, environment, and the senses.

The contributors to Siting Postcoloniality, edited by Pheng Cheah and Caroline S. Hau, reevaluate the notion of the postcolonial by focusing on the Sino-sphere—the region of East and Southeast Asia that has been significantly shaped by relations with China throughout history.

Rupal Oza follows the social life of rape in rural northwest India to reveal how rape is a language through which issues ranging from caste to justice to land are contested in Semiotics of Rape.

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A Teachable Book: Integrating Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics into your Syllabus

In this guest post, Lisa E. Bloom shares a teaching guide for her new book Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics. We hope you’ll consider adding it to your 2023 syllabus!

Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics: Artists Reimagine the Arctic and Antarctic is a teachable book, clear enough for undergraduates and challenging enough to use with graduate students. The book engages feminist, Black, Indigenous, and non-Western perspectives to address the exigencies of the experience of the Anthropocene and its attendant ecosystem failures brought on by the burning of oil, gas, and coal that has led to polar ice and glacial melt, rising sea levels, deadly floods, fires, and climate-led migrations. The book addresses the way contemporary artists, activists, and filmmakers are devising a new polar aesthetics that challenges the dominant narrative of mainstream media, which equates climate change with apocalyptic spectacles of melting ice and desperate polar bears, and green capitalism with masculinist imagery of sublime wilderness and imperial heroics.

In what follows I present many different threads that you can use to connect the book to an already existing syllabi in a diverse range of courses. For those who have already taught my earlier books or articles but especially Gender on Ice: American Ideologies of Polar Expeditions (1993), you might also be interested in teaching this one as some of the artists were influenced by my earlier writings.

For feminist art history, visual culture or design classes, teachers might be interested in teaching Chapters 1 and 2. Though at first glance climate art and film on the polar region and the Circumpolar North might seem gender and race neutral, the feminist intersectional analysis of representation of the Arctic and Antarctic in these chapters suggests that this welcome reemergence of interest in polar narratives and art often comes wrapped in a colonial nostalgia for white male heroism.  Chapter 1 on Antarctica focuses on four contemporary women artists — Anne Noble, Judit Hersko, Connie Samaras, and Joyce Campbell — whose work collectively creates a specifically feminist critical aesthetics that counters such an approach, since their art  addresses the historic exclusion of women altogether from the continent until the 1960s and 1970s and the way the visual tropes of Antarctica as the last great wilderness on earth contribute to maintaining the perception that Antarctica is still an all-male continent or a living memorial to this earlier moment when only men could populate the continent.

Chapter 2 might also be of interest since it  complicates official polar exploration art by creating plausible, yet fictional, accounts based on the historical record to address the climate crisis. Isaac Julien’s reformulation of the African American polar explorer Matthew Henson (1866 – 1955) not only makes Henson’s accomplishments part of northern polar exploration but creates a new fictional persona for him that challenges mainstream homophobic narratives of imperial heroics. Swedish artist Katja Aglert, in her conceptual project Winter Event — Antifreeze, uses a variety of media and aesthetic techniques to unsettle colonialist and nationalist masculinist history as the major mode of engagement in the Arctic till this day.

In Chapter 3 there is work on the new polar aesthetics that addresses questions of memory and what it means to make art and film about a warming Arctic without sentimentalizing or spectacularizing Indigenous suffering. Film and media studies scholars might be interested in my discussion of three innovative short films on the Arctic that call forth new representations of the climate crisis that focus on a world beset by uncertainty. An online documentary by Zacharias Kunuk and Ian Munro, titled Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change (2010), takes the perspective of an Igloolik community highly affected by climate change. It puts front and center communities from Canada’s Circumpolar North, who craft a decolonial method of knowledge production through filmmaking.

Chapters 4 and 5, cowritten with Elena Glasberg, suggests that the category of art continues to change as artists create new aesthetic arrangements of visibility capable of comprehending the material and representational aspects of climate breakdown (Roni Horn, Amy Balkin, Lillian Ball, Andrea Bowers and Annie Pootoogook). Artists and art historians might be interested in teaching these chapters as artists discussed in this section focus on some of these new aesthetic practices and the way they sensitize us to the unfolding process of climate breakdown. They also might be adopted in more general classes that include the iconic photography of Yosemite by Ansel Adams and Carleton Watkins and coverage of the pieces of land art or environmental art from the 1960s or 1970s. Teachers could juxtapose these earlier works with those emerging from Indigenous, feminist and non-western contexts in the Circumpolar North (Subhankar Banerjee, Andrea Bowers, Amy Balkin, amongst others) to consider a wider range of new directions in art, photography, and conceptual art that engages landscape, environment and ecology. Such approaches contest older romantic views of pristine nature in the Arctic that continues to be used to justify Indigenous absence rather than presence.

Again scholars of visual culture, film and media studies might be interested in Chapter 6  that focuses on innovative new-media films that take into account increased development by the oil industry, local knowledge, and the resilience of Indigenous communities. Combining strategies from documentary and speculative fiction genres, while incorporating scientific fact, these films demonstrate the challenges of representing the built-in invisibilities of climate change as well as the corporate obfuscations of the damage caused by extractivism. The chapter discusses experimental projects by the Swiss video artist Ursula Biemann and the Canadian filmmaker Brenda Longfellow to bring awareness to what is not otherwise fully visible by creating new forms of perception and representational framings that capture the intricacies of visibility.

Chapter 7 focuses on more collaborative and participatory forms of art and film  to move students past the psychic numbing of being overwhelmed by climate change while demonstrating their own political agency as central to imagining and constructing a better world. Activist artists such as Liberate Tate, the British Platform collective, Not an Alternative, and the Yes Men express a desire for change within the museum system of sponsorship, governance, and finance. Their work aims at holding Western art, natural history, and science museums to account for their complicity through the solicitation and acceptance of corporate sponsorship, in enabling climate change and perpetuating the colonial narratives that underlie it.

The later chapters might be taught in a wider range of courses since they show how historically under-represented groups are also pioneering new forms of environmental justice work in their resistance, and this, too, applies to Arctic Inuit women activists discussed in this book, such as Sheila Watt-Cloutier who movingly demanded “the right to be cold.” Watt-Cloutier has been instrumental in shaping an environmental justice campaign and has been widely recognized for suggesting that climate change is a matter of both Indigenous and multispecies survival (chapters 6, 7 and epilogue). For her “if we don’t have our environment, we cannot survive. “ Artists, writers, activists, and filmmakers in Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics share her vision in creating an alternative voice for the future, one opposed to the seemingly inevitable colonial imaginary for which the environment is a means that supports the ends of unregulated capitalism and hyperextractivism.

Lisa E. Bloom is Scholar-in-Residence at the Beatrice Bain Research Group in the Department of Gender and Women’s studies, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Gender On Ice: American Ideologies of Polar Expeditions. We invite you to request an exam copy on our website, and your students can save 30% on Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics with coupon E22BLOOM.

Q&A with Kimberly Theidon

Kimberly Theidon is Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies at Tufts University and author of Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru. In her new book, Legacies of War, Theidon draws on ethnographic research in Peru and Columbia to examine the lives of children born of wartime rape and the impact of violence on human and more-than-human lives, bodies, and ecologies.

You begin your book with a mention that you started writing it during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. This spring, the United States and Europe have been preoccupied with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while military conflicts around the world, like Yemen and Afghanistan continue. How did you find yourself relating to events like these while writing your book? Has that changed now that the book has been published?

Legacies of War is ethnographically grounded in Colombia and Peru. Having a deep sense of local histories and struggles—as well as the practices of care and hope that animate individual and collective life—is a cornerstone of anthropology, but place-based knowledge is not place-bound. Ethnography informs theory and analysis, which in turns allows me to speak to issues that resonate in other regions. You ask about Ukraine: this morning I opened the New York Times to a story on war, famine, and the purposeful destruction of crops. Starving people out, disrupting their economic livelihoods—the paramilitaries used similar strategies in Urabá, Colombia. Starving and displacing people is not an unforeseen consequence of war: it is a deliberate strategy used time and again. I argue for “connecting the dots” in my book to reveal techniques of violence that are repeatedly deployed yet are made to appear random and far removed from one another. The underlying and shared logics matter.

Cover for Legacies of War: A typography based cover. A red background with semi transparent repetitions of the main text, which is left centered. In white serif lettering, the title, "Legacies of War," sits atop a transparent line that directs to the author's name, "Kimberly Theidon." Below, in orange, is the subtitle, "Violence, Ecologies, and Kin."

You discuss how ambiguous and over-determined the English phrase “children born of war” is. How difficult is it to study and address this issue when the words being used—especially by prominent policy-makers, media members, and scholars—are so effective at concealing the harsh reality faced by children born of wartime sexual assault?

“Children born of war” —or CBOW in policy documents—obscures specificity. CBOW lacks an agent or a perpetrator, and war itself does not impregnate anyone. The language of policy documents may not be the language that allows us to think clearly in our research. Research categories demand greater precision. An anthropologist wants details about age, gender, race, religion, nationality, culture; in short, a researcher needs to incorporate intersectionality into her questions, her categories, and her analysis. The failure to incorporate other identity markers evokes “the danger of a single story.” As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie eloquently argues, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” In this book, I share numerous stories, some of rejection and pain, others of love and care.

As for “concealing the harsh reality of children born of wartime sexual assault”? There is more at stake in concealment and silences. I suspect that one reason children born of wartime rape were and have, to some extent, remained invisible on the international agenda is because there is no reasonable way to discuss this issue from a “survivor centered” perspective without addressing women’s right to abortion—a woman’s right to refuse to lend her body to nine months of reproductive labor. The UN’s Women Peace and Security Agenda, for all of its good intentions and accomplishments, is a framework that placates those for whom a more feminist agenda would be unpalatable. “Mainstreaming gender” can be a double-entendre, as the feminist critique of policy is mainstreamed into an agenda that does not threaten the status quo of powerful countries or interest groups—a move that may obscure the fact that women and their children (especially their fetuses) may be located within competing rights regimes. One cannot finesse away these competing rights. This calls for an explicitly feminist peace-building and post conflict reconstruction agenda, understood to include a full range of sexual and reproductive rights, including access to safe and affordable abortions.

How did you incorporate ideas from the environmental humanities such as theories of entanglement in your work, and why?

I was troubled by the tendency to place the heavy lifting of reproductive labor on the shoulders of women, which leads to reproductive governance more readily than reproductive justice. Uterine myopia is a problem, which is why I focus on the multiple environments in which conception, pregnancy and childbirth unfold—environments that may lie far beyond the control of any one woman, of any one person. From toxic chemicals to land mines, from rivers tinged with blood to angry mountains, the goal was to capture the multiple environments and actors that play a role in “distributed reproduction”— environments and actors that may in turn suffer various forms of reproductive violence. An open-ness to the world and its capacity to “get under our skin” allowed me to draw connections between indigenous epistemologies, situated biologies, and the burgeoning field of epigenetics. I questioned what is involved in “discovering” that our bodies bear life’s signature upon them—or “discovering” that we share this world with more-than-human kin. The trope of discovery follows a particular history of modernity, settler colonialism and capitalism: it is erected on the erasure of indigenous and Native American peoples, their ways of life and their theories about the world and the place of human beings in it. If there is to be a way forward on this planet, it will require moving beyond human exceptionalism and its devastating consequences.

You write about how heavily this research and these stories of trauma and survival have weighed on you. Yet, you also mention that you “found solace” while writing the book (vii). How did you navigate the emotional challenges of writing about children born from sexual assault?

In my research, I have explored what people say they suffer from and how they attempt to set things right. This has required me to hold present both suffering and resilience, and to help my readers imagine what it is that permits people to get up in the morning and believe—despite all evidence to the contrary—that there might be a better day ahead of them and a future for their children. This still remains the most enduring memory of my fieldwork. When I close my eyes, I recall moments doubled over laughing, dancing until we could no longer stand up, children running into my room and piling on my bed, singing until the candles burned down and there were only stars streaming through the cracks in my corrugated aluminum roof. I remember more than endurance. There were also moments of joy that stretched into hours that in turn became days. Even in the midst of violence, life is not only tragic.

I have come to think of writing as a pharmakon, as both poison and remedy. Writing plunges many of us back into the field, yet also offers us a way out, and a way to fulfill the enormous responsibility we feel to the questions we have posed and to the people with whom we have worked. Many of us were sent home with the exhortation to “tell people out there what you’ve seen so they will do something about it.” 1 Writing is one way we honor that charge. It is one way we amplify voices demanding justice.

Finally, I have loved my research, and certainly loved writing this book. I hope readers can feel that we amplify voices demanding justice.

Read the introduction to Legacies of War for free on our website and save 30% on the paperback with coupon E22THDON.

1 The charge to carry a message to some imagined “international community” — imagined as moral, caring and disposed to action if only provided with the necessary knowledge — can be a painful fiction. For example, see Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania, Liisa Malkki, University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Women’s Rights and the Knots of Motherhood: A Guest Post by Jane Lazarre

In June of 2022, the United States Supreme Court ruled to eliminate the right to privacy for American women in choosing when and if to become mothers, a right that has been constitutional since 1973 in the decision Roe vs Wade. 

Cover of The Mother Knot by Jane Lazarre. The cover features a grey line drawing of an infant suckling a breast. The title is place in an orange box. There is also a quote: "A Modern Feminist classic."—Maureen T. Reddy

Restricting and removing women’s rights, silencing our voices, controlling our choices and our bodies, is everywhere and throughout history intimately connected to tyranny. American slavery controlled women’s bodies through rape and forced breeding. It was only in 1919 that women were “given” the “right” to vote, and as American tyrannies rise again, the right to vote is being threatened in many states. From European Fascism and Nazism, to various ideologies and religious fundamentalisms around the world, now in the United States—everywhere tyranny is embedded with issues of caste and class – with racism, white supremacy and misogyny. As always, single mothers, women of color, poor women, and many working mothers without wealth or supports will be the most harmed.

Coincidentally, my first memoir, about pregnancy, giving birth and my first years of being a mother, (The Mother Knot) written and published over forty years ago, widely read then, is now being widely read again in a Spanish language edition as feminist movements gather energy in Spain and in South and Central America. Recently, I spoke with Mexican journalists who still feel the book’s relevance. One young woman described the traumatic experience of becoming a mother alone during the pandemic, then the relief she felt in what she called the “radical honesty” of my story of the knots of motherhood. She described horror felt about the decision of our Supreme Court by many women in South and Central America, where feminism is changing political and personal consciousness as the movement did in the United States in the 1970s. Many there are struggling to understand how America — still in some ways viewed as a democratic ideal if not a reality — can have prohibited the voices of women, turning choice into a crime. I was deeply moved by the continued relevance of my work, but also made aware by these courageous young women of how crucial our voices are — the voices of women everywhere. For the voices of mothers in the United States have never been only about women having and caring for children. Biological mothers join other voices across the arts and professions; women who choose not to be, or cannot be, biological mothers; adoptive mothers and step-mothers; women, including mothers, who reject the classic myth of ourselves as perfect givers, always choosing service to others over service to ourselves, angels of love or she-devils of murderous capacity; women and girls who have been raped by family members or strangers; girls and women who choose to reject the identity of woman altogether; the voices of maternal men, especially but not only biological fathers.

Here, then, is the voice of my thirty-year old self writing, a voice that continues to have resonance over forty years later:

It is rare to read about the experience of motherhood as described by mothers themselves. Much of what we still read about motherhood are descriptions from the point of view of the children – grown up children who are now writers, psychologists, professionals, but existentially and in relation to the people they are describing, children. Thus, unconscious drives and beliefs are hopelessly entwined with what seems to be purely analytic statement. Even women professionals, overly influenced by the ubiquitous myths of placid, fulfilling maternity accepted by their male mentors, or by ongoing social and cultural ideologies, have given us only half the story. And the vicious circle is complete; the myth determines the content of our so-called objective knowledge, and “knowledge” is used to reinforce the myth.

Women are as different from one another as men are—we have many varied personalities and characters and life experiences, are born with every kind of human temperament—yet there is only one persisting image of the “good mother.” At her worst, she is a tyrannical goddess of stupefying love and murderous self-denial whom none of us should or can emulate, or one limited sort of person, not the vast treasure house of human possibility which would be the stuff of a creative and nourishing myth. She is quietly strong, selflessly giving, undemanding, unambitious; she is receptive and intelligent in only a moderate, concrete way. She is of even temperament, always in control of her emotions.

Most of us are not like her. And we must speak about what it is really like, from pregnancy to giving birth, to the many complexities of raising children, to managing separations of all kinds at all ages. Only in this way can we change the conclusions and theories demanding that we sacrifice our self-knowledge to false and simplistic stories distorting the truth. Much of what has been called neurotic in mothers and pathogenic for the children in psychological literature is, on the contrary, a normal part of the experience of being a mother.

Now, the Court has added to these ingrained lies the equivalency of abortion with murder.

This seed of maternal guilt and shame, that we will with the slightest misstep make our children crazy, or criminal, or ill, is the most common fear shared with me by readers over the years, a stream of relief expressed in the possibility that what has been called individual pathology, including chronic conflict about so much of what we do and feel, from pregnancy to giving birth to raising a child — the knot of motherhood — is actually a natural part of one of the most demanding and overwhelming forms of love. When, or if, to continue a pregnancy, to give birth or to choose not to be a mother or not to be a mother again is one of the most complex decisions in life. By criminalizing our choices, the Court has ruled to control our bodies, to silence our thinking and feeling selves.

When I became a mother, I also became something else brand new. Though I did not know it immediately when I held my first newborn child in my arms, that new self would require a  complex fabric of learning and awareness that has been transformative. In 1969 and again in 1973 I became the white/Jewish mother of Black sons. As I began the maternal work of raising my children, living in close connection with my husband’s African American family, I listened and studied about how race and racial identity are embedded in all issues of public policy, in all struggles for freedom and against oppression, in decisions about where one lives, or shops, or attends school or work, of what to be proud of as I learned more about freedom movements in American history, what to be deeply ashamed of, and what to fear for the bodies I love: I began to comprehend the social, political and psychological problem of whiteness.

As the great writer James Baldwin put it, writing about American racism and the history of American slavery: “People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.” I hear the words of Adrienne Rich: “[P]olitics was not something out there, but in here, the essence of my condition.” And of the philosopher, Sara Ruddick: “The maternal act of storytelling [is] a politics of remembering.”

When I reread The Mother Knot today, I hear the voice of a young woman trying to learn how to be a mother while she is longing for a mother herself, the voice of a mother with many privileges who nevertheless experiences confusion, loneliness, sometimes debilitating anxieties and anger along with devotion, attention, and passionate love. I imagine young women, in a society that offers few supports, struggling to choose to be mothers, then trying to be good mothers against a tight social fabric of terrible odds; women and girls choosing not to be mothers doomed, as many were in my own youth, to death or the risk of death.

I can think of three times when historical forces, personal experience and new intellectual awareness came together to form a radical challenge to my identity:

  • When I dispelled the illusion that we are wholly conscious of everything we feel and all the motivations for our actions and choices.
  • When I understood the cruel and damaging blindness of white perspectives on American history and culture I came to call “the whiteness of whiteness” in my memoir about being the white mother of Black sons.
  • When I became aware of the dangerous historical and personal distortions in cultural definitions of masculinity and femininity in part through the experience of motherhood.

“How much it takes to be a writer …” Tillie Olsen writes in her essay “Silences,” a meditation on gender and women writing. “We must have much conviction as to the importance of what one has to say, one’s right to say it. And the will, the measureless store of belief in oneself to be able to come to, cleave to, find the form for one’s own life comprehensions.”

Or Audre Lorde, the poet and writer who taught us so much about the courage required and the necessity for true stories, while reminding us of “the fear of being visible, scrutinized, judged, even perhaps the elemental fears of pain and death.”

We may extend these words not only to writers but to all people.

 Recently I read words from Vincent Harding, a leader of the American Civil Rights  movement, quoted by the poet, Elizabeth Alexander, about how the yearning for freedom flows through history “like a river, sometimes powerful … and rolling with life; at other times meandering and turgid, covered with the ice and snow of seemingly endless winters, streaked and running with blood.”

 A dangerous winter is emerging in this country. It is felt by progressive people here and in many places across the globe where the ideal of liberty is still a commitment and a hope. One essential piece of holding onto that hope is the courage to write and speak with radical honesty.

Jane Lazarre is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Communist and the Communist’s DaughterBeyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black SonsWet Earth and Dreams: A Narrative of Grief and Recovery, and The Mother Knot, all also published by Duke University Press, as well as the novels Inheritance and Some Place Quite Unknown. She has won awards for her fiction from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Lazarre founded and directed the undergraduate writing program at Eugene Lang College at the New School for ten years and taught creative writing and literature there for twenty years. She has also taught at the City College of New York and Yale University. Lazarre lives in New York City.
Portions of this essay were published by ROOM, A Sketchbook for Analytic Action. Some portions, in somewhat different form, are from A Woman Writer in Time, essays forthcoming by Las Afueras, Barcelona, Spain.

New Books in June

Summer is almost here! Kick off the new season with some of the great new titles we have coming out in June.

Perfect for vacation reading, Shola von Reinhold’s decadent queer literary debut LOTE immerses readers in the pursuit of aesthetics and beauty, while interrogating the removal and obscuring of Black figures from history.

Examining the reception of evolutionary biology, the 1925 Scopes Trial, and the New Atheist movement of the 2000s, Donovan O. Schaefer theorizes the relationship between thinking and feeling by challenging the conventional wisdom that they are separate in Wild Experiment.

In Gridiron Capital, Lisa Uperesa charts the cultural, historical, and social dynamics that have made American football so central to Samoan culture.

Thulani Davis provides a sweeping rethinking of Reconstruction in The Emancipation Circuit, tracing how the four million people newly freed from bondage created political organizations and connections that mobilized communities across the South.

In The Small Matter of Suing Chevron, Suzana Sawyer traces Ecuador’s lawsuit against the Chevron corporation for the environmental devastation resulting from its oil drilling practices, showing how distinct legal truths were relationally composed of, with, and through crude oil.

In Discovering Fiction, eminent Chinese novelist Yan Lianke offers insights into his views on literature and realism, the major works that inspired him, and his theories of writing.

The contributors to Grammars of the Urban Ground, edited by Ash Amin and Michele Lancione, develop a new conceptual framework and vocabulary for capturing the complex, ever-shifting, and interactive processes that shape contemporary cities.

In Myriad Intimacies, Lata Mani oscillates between poetry and prose, genre and form, register and voice, and secular and sacred to meditate on the ways in which everyone and everything exists in mutually constitutive interrelations.

Working at the intersection of urban theory, Black studies, and decolonial and Islamic thought, AbdouMaliq Simone offers a new theorization of the interface of the urban and the political in The Surrounds.

Sophie Chao examines the multispecies entanglements of oil palm plantations in West Papua, Indonesia in her new book In the Shadow of the Palms, showing how Indigenous Marind communities understand and navigate the social, political, and environmental demands of the oil palm plant.

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Ken Wissoker’s Sale Recommendations

Image reads: use code SPRING22, Spring Sale, 50% off all in-stock books and journal issues through May 27
A white man with short, graying dark hair, wearing rectangular glasses, a black and white collared print shirt, and a black jacket.
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Our Spring Sale is rapidly coming to a close. You only have three days to save 50% on in-stock books and journal issues. If you’re still not sure what to purchase, here are Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker’s suggestions.

I don’t need to tell most DUP readers that this moment requires transformative thinking. The pandemic and the racist agenda of the last US administration are not over in the least. Rarely a day goes by where rights and conditions central to our well-being are not under attack. Thank you, SCOTUS. What can we as thinkers, readers, and publishers do to make a difference? I would start my sale recommendations there. I’m thinking about books that will help all of us get through: Sara Ahmed’s Complaint!, Max Liboiron’s Pollution Is Colonialism, Katherine McKittrick’s Dear Science and Other Stories. Tools for thinking differently.

My own thinking has been transformed this spring by Jennifer L. Morgan’s Reckoning with Slavery, which centers Black women in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, giving them agency, not merely footnoted presence. Morgan points a way for historians to restore the power and feelings of those who were of no account in the archives, while putting the numeracy of the slave trade at the core of capitalism.
 
Morgan’s friend and colleague Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu has shown exactly how this can be done, similarly working between disciplines and archives, but across the Pacific rather than the Atlantic. Her book Experiments in Skin won the publishing equivalent of March Madness this year, the Prose awards from the Association of American Publishers. They choose 106 finalists in categories from Mathematics to Philosophy; then 39 category winners, 4 area winners for humanities, social sciences, bio sciences, and physical sciences—and one overall winner, Thuy’s incredible book, which combines a history of imperialism and chemical warfare with that of dermatology and concepts of beauty showing how they all come together in present-day Vietnam.

Cover of Planetary Longings by Mary Louise Pratt. Cover features a brown landscape with a muddy orange river running through it.

Mary Louise Pratt is one of the theorists who made the intellectual and political work of the last decades possible. Her long-awaited Planetary Longings is just out, as is Jonathan Sterne’s Diminished Faculties: A Political Phenomenology of Impairment, a brilliant and personally driven account of impairment. 
 
The presence and care of a writer’s personal voice feels especially necessary at this moment, given the wearing politics of our time. Rather than being separate from scholarship and theorizing, the voice is central part to it. We see that in Jafari S. Allen’s gorgeous There’s a Discoball Between Us—his account of Black gay male life from the 80s and after and what it owes to Black feminism—and in Kevin Quashie’s similarly inspiring Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being. You hear it in La Marr Jurelle Bruce’s stunning How to Go Mad Without Losing Your Mind and in McKenzie Wark’s pathbreaking Philosophy for Spiders.
 
In this vein, one book I can’t recommend enough is Mercy Romero’s Toward Camden, a memoir and a way of understanding raced geography at once, where the two are inseparable, and written with intense beauty and insight.

Finally, in other political registers, I would strongly recommend Tania Murray Li and Pujo Semedi’s Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation in Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone, an analysis of emergent forms of capitalism based on the massive expansion of plantations in the present. You should also check out Vicente Rafael book on Duterte, The Sovereign Trickster; Jodi Kim’s long-awaited and incisive Settler Garrison; and Leslie Bow’s superb Racist Love: Asian Abstraction and the Pleasure of Fantasy.
 
I could easily come up with another list this long (where is Beth Povinelli’s new book or Joshua Clover’s Roadrunner??) so get over to the website and look around yourself. Just do it quickly!

Use coupon SPRING22 to save on all these titles and more. If you’re located outside North and South America, we suggest you order from our partner Combined Academic Publishers using the same coupon. You’ll get faster and cheaper shipping. See the fine print here.

Gisela Fosado’s Sale Recommendations

Image reads: use code SPRING22, Spring Sale, 50% off all in-stock books and journal issues through May 27
Our Spring Sale continues for two more weeks. If you’re looking for suggestions for what to buy, check out Editorial Director Gisela Fosado’s recommendations. Use coupon SPRING22 to save 50% on these and all in-stock titles.

With the Latin American Studies Association conference wrapped up last weekend, I thought I’d recommend a dozen of our most important brand new books (published within the past 6 months) in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx studies.

Troillot Remixed: The Michel-Rolph Trouillot Reader edited by Yarimar Bonilla, Greg Beckett, Mayanthi L. Fernando.
“By the sheer force of his example, he invited us to recognize not only the irreducible complexity of the Caribbean as a horizon of inquiry but also the intellectual duty to take up the challenge of reinventing the categories through which we apprehend and engage this complexity. Trouillot Remixed offers us a thematically distilled selection of his work that will provoke us to appreciate his contribution in fresh and unexpected ways.” — David Scott, Columbia University

Planetary Longings by Mary Louise Pratt
“These brilliant essays bring cultural theory to life. Mary Louise Pratt thinks across the Americas, drawing us into a repertoire that every American should grasp. To decolonize the postcolonial legacy, she shows us how to think generously and rigorously as well as politically.” — Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, coeditor of Feral Atlas: The More-Than-Human Anthropocene

The Florida Room by Alexandra T. Vazquez
“Alexandra T. Vazquez’s bold, brilliant, and refreshingly unconventional meditatin on sonic placemaking in Florida is fearless and groundbreaking. Compressing the deep, wide, and volatile politics and poetics of the global South into a focused exploration of the “Sunshine State,” The Florida Room reminds readers of what daring, innovative, and challenging theory looks and sounds like. This luminous book opens up our notions of what counts as theory as well as who gets identified as theorists.” — Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound

Scales of Captivity: Racial Capitalism and the Latinx Child by Mary Pat Brady
“Mary Pat Brady has written a multilayered, bracing study with deep historical roots and startling contemporary resonance. She reanimates questions of citizenship and exclusion at the heart of Chicanx/Latinx studies, while simultaneously uncovering the inextricability of childhood, queer politics, and acts of witnessing.” — Richard T. Rodríguez, author of Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics

Loss and Wonder at the World’s End by Laura A. Ogden
“In its freshness of vision, its first-person mode of presentation, its openheartedness, and its scattering of materials in delicate montages, Loss and Wonder at the World’s End is such fun to read. Laura A. Ogden’s persistent view of history throughout the text as multivalent, dense, and mysterious is wonderful.” — Michael T. Taussig, author of Mastery of Non-mastery in the Age of Meltdown

Suspicion: Vaccines, Hesitancy, and the Affective Politics of Protection in Barbados by Nicole Charles
Suspicion is a compellingly written and superlatively theorized ethnography of public health, affect, and the persistence of racism in the Caribbean. Nicole Charles uses suspicion to understand the logic behind Black parents’ decisions about whether to give their children vaccines, showing that their decisions are rooted not in ignorance and irrationality but within long histories of racial and sexual injury as well as hierarchies related to race, class, color, education, and authority.” — Deborah A. Thomas, author of Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair

Stories That Make History: Mexico through Elena Poniatowska’s Crónicas by Lynn Stephen
“The fortuitous pairing of perhaps Mexico’s most beloved, enduring, and influential writer with one of its most prolific and accomplished international scholars of social and cultural movements gives rise to an extraordinary collaboration. This engrossing volume will be required reading for anyone seriously interested in Mexican journalism and literature, history and history-making, and the formation of social memory.” — Gilbert M. Joseph, coeditor of The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Unintended Lessons of Revolution by Tanalís Padilla
“This book transcends the constricted scope of a narrow institutional study to throw new light on a series of larger questions concerning Mexico’s legacy of revolution, its failed rural policies, and the explosion of unrest among rural teachers and activists. It is a pleasure to read.” — Brooke Larson, author of Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910

Workers Like All the Rest of Them: Domestic Service and the Rights of Labor in Twentieth-Century Chile by Elizabeth Q. Hutchison
“Presenting a series of timely, important, and often surprising arguments, Workers Like All the Rest of Them will find an audience among Chileanists, historians of gender and labor, as well as social science scholars interested in domestic work around the world.” — Nara B. Milanich, author of Paternity: The Elusive Quest for the Father

The Lettered Barriada: Workers, Archival Power, and the Politics of Knowledge in Puerto Rico by Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo
“Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo’s focus on the ‘politics of knowledge production’ explodes our understanding of the internecine struggles within the early Puerto Rican Left and the politics of race and gender in the construction of radical social movements in Puerto Rico.” — Eileen J. Findlay, author of We Are Left without a Father Here: Masculinity, Domesticity, and Migration in Postwar Puerto Rico

Cover of The Nature of Space by Milton Santos features a black and white photograph of Santos. He is wearing reading glasses and looking slightly to his left while gesturing with his hands. The title and subtitle appear over the photo in yellow and white type.

The Nature of Space by Milton Santos, translated by Brenda Baletti
“Milton Santos was one of the most important Black thinkers in the Americas writing in the last four decades, one of the most important Brazilian intellectuals of all time, and one of the most cited and noteworthy geographers in Latin America. This extremely important translation subverts our tendencies to ignore scholarship being produced in the global South and marks a key step in decolonizing thought in US academe.” — Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, author of Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil

Cocaine: From Coca Fields to the Streets, edited by Enrique Desmond Arias and Thomas Grisaffi
“Through its attention to both the transnational cocaine commodity chain and the locally specific moral economies that have developed along it, Cocaine presents an innovative and urgent perspective. This highly original and engaging volume makes significant contributions to studies of crime, governance, economics, and Latin American studies.” — Rivke Jaffe, author of Concrete Jungles: Urban Pollution and the Politics of Difference in the Caribbean

Finally, if you haven’t checked out the 2022 Bryce Wood Award honorees, now is the perfect time to pick up a copy of the books that won or were honorable mentions for LASA’s top prize, Bret Gustafson’s Bolivia in the Age of Gas and Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador by Thea Riofrancos.  Huge congratulations to Bret and Thea!

New Books in May

As we approach the end of the semester, kick off your summer reading with some of our great new titles! Here’s what we have coming out in May.

Shannen Dee Williams provides a comprehensive history of Black Catholic nuns in the United States in Subversive Habits, tracing how Black sisters’ struggles were central to the long African American freedom movement.

The contributors to Re-Understanding Media, edited by Sarah Sharma and Rianka Singh, advance a feminist version of Marshall McLuhan’s key text, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, repurposing his insight that “the medium is the message” for feminist ends.

In Queer Companions, Omar Kasmani theorizes the construction of queer social relations at Pakistan’s most important Sufi site by examining the affective and intimate relationship between the site’s pilgrims and its patron saint.

In The Impasse of the Latin American Left, Franck Gaudichaud, Massimo Modonesi, and Jeffery R. Webber explore the Latin American Pink Tide as a political, economic, and cultural phenomenon, showing how it failed to transform the underlying class structures of their societies or challenge the imperial strategies of the United States and China.

In Passionate Work, Renyi Hong theorizes the notion of being “passionate about your work” as an affective project that encourages people to endure economically trying situations like unemployment, job change, repetitive and menial labor, and freelancing.

Allan E. S. Lumba explores how the United States used monetary policy and banking systems to justify racial and class hierarchies, enforce capitalist exploitation, and counter movements for decolonization in the American colonial Philippines in Monetary Authorities.

In The Lives of Jessie Sampter, Sarah Imhoff tells the story of the queer, disabled, Zionist writer Jessie Sampter (1883–1938), whose body and life did not match typical Zionist ideals and serves as an example of the complex relationships between the body, queerness, disability, religion, and nationalism.

Jodi Kim examines how the United States extends its sovereignty across Asia and the Pacific in the post-World War II era through a militarist settler imperialism that is leveraged on debt in Settler Garrison.

In Legal Spectatorship, Kelli Moore traces the political origins of the concept of domestic violence through visual culture in the United States, showing how it is rooted in the archive of slavery.

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Three Questions with Zeynep Korkman & Sherene Razack, Editors of “Transnational Feminist Approaches to Anti-Muslim Racism”

Zeynep Korkman and Sherene Razack are editors of “Transnational Feminist Approaches to Anti-Muslim Racism,” a new special issue of Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism that traces the global circuits and formations of power through which anti-Muslim racism travels, operates, and shapes local contexts. The full issue is free to read through the end of June; start reading here.

What makes “Transnational Feminist Approaches to Anti-Muslim Racism” unique or essential? What does it do that no other collection has done before?

Transnational feminists begin with the idea that gender is not an abstract system but rather one that emerges in and through global capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. Attentive not only to the differences in women’s lives but also to the inequalities among women, transnational feminists have long had a preoccupation with global circuits of power. This collection of essays offers insight into how anti-Muslim racism travels along such global circuits. As racism travels and becomes attached to local conflicts, Muslims are installed as a pre-modern, barbaric, racial Other, a racial category that consolidates white supremacy and other civilizational discourses. The collection is the first to discuss how global white supremacy is upheld through anti-Muslim racism.

The transnational feminist analysis that this special issue embraces emphasizes that anti-Muslim racism is a gendered phenomenon. Muslim women are cast as singularly oppressed by Muslim men who in turn are cast as the universal enemy. Meriting extraordinary levels of violence, Muslims are imagined globally as threats to civilization who must be met with force. The global figures of the Muslim as “terrorist,” and the Muslim woman as oppressed and in need of saving, handily obscure the tremendous force that is directed at Muslim communities. Although the discourses of anti-Muslim racism travel globally, there is no singular overbearing structure of oppression. Likewise, Muslims are not any one thing. This special issue attends to the imbrication of the global with the local and to Muslims as complex and dynamically constituted social and political subjects.

What are some topics that readers can expect to find covered in the issue?

Readers of this special issue will be introduced to the interconnections between gendered anti-Muslim legal projects across the globe. In her article Natasha Bakht reveals how there have been attempts to ban Muslim women’s clothing across the globe, bans articulated as about saving Muslim women from the barbarism of their communities even as they impose a host of restrictions and punishments. Muslims meet these challenges in a host of ways. Readers will meet Bengali women who negotiated the transnational spaces opened up by US Cold War–era imperialist ambitions (Shehabuddin), Muslim women in Russia who draw on narratives of religious and cultural histories of strength to resist their racialization in contemporary Russia (Rabinovitch), and pious Pakistani women who draw on narratives of secularism to stake their rights claims (Jamal). The special issue offers a unique look into a revolutionary politics and resistance in the Muslim world through an exploration of the aesthetic practices of Muslim artists (Ali Bhutto) who ask whether a Muslim warrior drag queen can take us to a queer Muslim futurism.

How do you imagine the issue could be used in courses, or as a basis for future scholarship?

“The transnational terrain of anti-Muslim racism demands solidarities across regions.”

The special issue will be of interest to scholars who explore how class, gender, and sexuality are central to formations of racial dominance, how these discourses travel globally, and how to resist. Gender studies scholars will find a nuanced consideration of agency and feminist political organizing. All readers will be able to deepen their knowledge of how race, class, gender, and sexuality interlock in women’s lives, in national discourses, and in imperial and colonial systems.

The enduring contribution of the issue is the message that the transnational terrain of anti-Muslim racism demands solidarities across regions. As feminists, we must learn and unlearn as we trace the investments we each bring to a transnational feminist politics. Our scholarship has to bear the weight of these critical reflections on our own praxis.

Q&A with Sara Ahmed, author of Complaint!

Sara Ahmed is an independent scholar and author of What’s the Use?, Living a Feminist Life, and other books also published by Duke University Press. Drawing on oral and written testimonies from academics and students who have made complaints about harassment, bullying, and unequal working conditions at universities, in her new book Complaint! she examines what we can learn about power from those who complain about abuses of power.

In the introduction to Complaintyou write about how your resignation created the conditions that made this book possible. Was it essential for you to be outside the institution as you compiled these stories?

I decided to do this research on complaint before I resigned. I did not know I was going to resign until I did! Once I had resigned, it changed how I could do the research. I wouldn’t say it was essential that I was outside the institution to be able to collect the stories but it certainly shaped how I could do it.

That I was outside the institution had an impact on the kinds of stories that were shared with me. The complaints that I talk about in the book (I don’t talk about all complaints!), complaints about abuses of power, complaints that challenge hierarchies, can devastate lives as well as careers. Complaints can be hard to talk about – you can even be prevented from talking about them.  Many of the participants in my study got in touch with me because they heard about my resignation. It mattered to them that I had resigned. I had refused to be silent; I had said no. That I was outside the institution probably also meant I could provide a safer space: they were not speaking to someone who was in the same institution they were speaking about. 

From my point of view, I do not really feel outside the institution – even if I sometimes call myself post-institutional. The fact that I did the research shows in a way that I am still in it, still on it. Leaving my post and profession was a very painful, bumpy and difficult process – and doing this research helped me to come to terms with what happened and to feel more grounded where I am, doing what I am.  I am so grateful for that.

Complaint! is about grievances against institutions of higher education but discrimination is everywhere, as are HR roadblocks to disciplinary procedures. What can non-academic readers learn from the stories you’ve collected?

You could do the kind of research that I have done for this book in many other institutions – and in fact, I have been approached by people about their experiences in other sectors who have shared very similar stories. I spoke to someone in my own neighborhood recently. She asked me what I was working on and when I said I was working on complaint, she shared a story. She told me what happened when she tried to complain about being bullied by her manager at the supermarket where she worked. She said “I knew I was in trouble, when they shut the door.” The experience she had of ending up under scrutiny because she complained, her knowledge of what the closed door meant, how her complaint was going to be managed and contained, was very similar to many of the experiences shared by academics and students. 

We learn from what we share. 

The book is really about power, how power works to make it hard to challenge how power works. That complaint procedures become techniques for stopping complaints and complainers is telling us something about the mechanics of power. So, I hope the book reaches readers outside the university. I also am planning to write a shorter book, The Complainer’s Handbook, which will follow The Feminist Killjoy Handbook that I am currently drafting, so I can share the stories with less of a focus on the university as a specific site. 

You map how complaints can lay groundwork for future change, and can create communities of shared experience between people whom institutional processes would otherwise have kept apart. Complaint activism is not a guarantee of institutional change, but rather “a way of thinking about what we get from complaint even when we do not get through.” Is this hopeful, or exhausting? 

It is hopeful and exhausting! I call the hope of complaint, a “weary hope,” we have hope because of what we go through not despite it even when we don’t get very far. This kind of hope gives us a sense of the point, of there being a point, but it keeps us close to the ground. Complaints can take so much out of you. But most of the time, we also get something from them. I was really delighted that Leila Whitley, Tiffany Page and Alice Corble (with support from Heidi Hasbrouck and Chryssa Sdrolia and others) wrote one of the two conclusions of the book about their experience of making a collective complaint. They took on this work as PhD students – I joined the collective they had already formed. The last sentence of their conclusion is very simple and very powerful and very true. They write: “We moved something.” We have hope, they moved something, even if it took a huge amount of effort to get there. And that effort led us to each other.  A weary “we” is still a “we.” That matters.

What does it mean for complaint to be pedagogy? 

Complaint as feminist pedagogy became the Twitter hashtag for my project – this wasn’t an intentional decision; it was one of the formulations I was trying out to pull out the significance of complaint and it is the one that stuck! Other formulations in the book are “complaint as diversity work,” and “complaints as a queer method.” Each “as” brings out different aspects of what complaints are about

Why pedagogy? When we think of pedagogy, we might think of how we teach – the teacher is the subject who uses different methods of instruction (which are also different ways of thinking about learning). By saying complaint is pedagogy, I am putting complaint in the position of the subject/teacher. We learn from complaint about the world. If we hadn’t complained, there is so much we would not know (even could not know) about what goes on. By making complaint my teacher, I position myself as learning from those I have spoken to. In my conclusion I acknowledge that “learning,” is one of the most used words in the book.

Complaint is heavy work. What strategies have you learned for those engaged in complaint to persevere? 

Finding other people to support you in your institution is vital.  If you can’t find someone inside your institution, go outside. Complaint procedures are designed to keep us apart for a reason. We need to combine our resources and energies. We need our co-complainers. We often lose people when we make complaints. But we also find people. 

Working together is also about accepting the limits of what each of us can do. There is only so much we can do. I have in my “Killjoy Survival Kit” from Living a Feminist Life, permissions notes – sometimes, we need to give ourselves permission not to do something if it is too much. We are different and we need different things to keep going. I also think of tactics that might lighten the load – we might laugh, dance, eat, breathe, take walks, hang out with our companions, furry and non-furry. 

There are two sentences from my conclusion to Complaint! that are key to my thoughts about working on as well as at institutions. They are slightly modified versions of sentences that appeared in What’s the Use: On the Uses of Use, which also made use of data from my research into complaint.  

Transforming institutions can be necessary if we are to survive them. But we still need to survive the institutions we are trying to transform.

The heavier the task, and complaint is made heavy, it is no accident that you feel the weight of the institution coming down on you, the more you need to attend to what you need to survive.  I am, of course, learning from Audre Lorde here. 

Complaint! is learning from Lorde

Read the introduction to Complaint! free online and save 50% on it and all in-stock titles with coupon FALL21 through October 15, 2021. After October 15, save 30% on Complaint! with coupon E21AHMD.