Political Science

Slavoj Žižek: In Defense of a Lost Cause

sbriglia - author photoHappy birthday to renowned philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek! Today’s guest blog post comes from Russell Sbriglia, editor of the new collection Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek.

Today marks the 68th birthday of Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek. In my recent collection for Duke University Press, Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek, I make the case for Žižek’s relevance for literary studies—a relevance long overshadowed by the work done on Žižek in other fields such as film, media, and cultural studies. On this particular occasion, however, I’d like to make the case for Žižek’s continued relevance as a political thinker. Žižek has come under heavy fire of late for a number of his public positions, most notably those regarding the Syrian refugee crisis and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. For those well-versed in and sympathetic to Žižek’s work, there is little that is controversial, let alone “conservative,” about these stances. Yet there now seems to be an entire cottage industry devoted to misreading and misinterpreting Žižek.

978-0-8223-6318-7Consider, for instance, his claim that, were he a U.S. citizen, he would have voted for Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton in last year’s election. His point was not to “endorse Trump,” as one article headline ridiculously proclaimed (Žižek has said time and again that Trump is an absolutely vulgar and disgusting figure who represents the decline of public decency), but rather to emphasize that a vote for Clinton would be a vote for the neoliberal status quo. The curious thing is that many of those who excoriated Žižek for taking such a position are the very same people who have long laughed at Francis Fukuyama’s thesis regarding the “end of history.” Fukuyama, in his 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man, (in)famously argued that with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Soviet communism, political history had effectively come to an end. From here on out, history would consist of the gradual yet inevitable democratization of the world under the regime of global capitalism. Laugh at Fukuyama though they will, the reaction by many on the left to Žižek’s hypothetical vote for Trump as a means of accelerating the contradictions of late capitalism suggests an implicit confirmation of the Fukuyaman thesis. For a vast majority of liberals, democratic capitalism still remains, as Marcel Gauchet has said of liberal democracy, “l’horizon indépassable,” an impassable horizon. Hence Žižek’s frequent reiteration of Fredric Jameson’s famous line that “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.”

Even after Clinton’s Electoral College loss—a loss due in part to the fact that Trump was able to capitalize on the DNC’s sacrifice of Bernie Sanders, filling the vacuum left by Sanders’s democratic socialism with a faux populist nationalism—a number of Democrats seem bent on maintaining the neoliberal status quo. Take, for example, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s comments from a CNN Town Hall in late January. Citing a recent Harvard University poll which showed that a majority of people between the ages of 18 and 29 no longer support the capitalist system, an NYU student asked Pelosi whether she could envision the Democratic Party “mov[ing] farther left to a more populist message” that would make for “a more stark contrast to right-wing economics.” Pelosi’s immediate response was as follows: “Well, I thank you for your question. But I have to say, we’re capitalist. That’s just the way it is.” This is precisely the type of “inertia” that Žižek saw in Clinton, who in attempting to appeal to both Wall Street and Occupy Wall Street ended up running on a platform that was as anodyne as it was amorphous. On this issue in particular, if Žižek is a lost cause, then so are we.

The good news amidst the many horrors of the past two months is that we are now beginning to see signs that perhaps Žižek was correct about Trump mobilizing the left. Though Žižek often quips that the left never likes to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, the numerous women’s marches that were held around the globe the day after Trump took office, the protests at airports across the U.S. following the Trump Administration’s initial Muslim ban, and the fiery Republican town halls at which constituents are voicing (and venting) their concerns over a possible repeal of Obamacare all suggest that a political awakening may very well be underway on the left. If this proves to truly be the case, if the left does indeed have the courage to “resume” history, then we’re going to need Žižek more than ever.

Want more Žižek? Read the introduction to Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek, edited by Russell Sbriglia, or save 30% on the paperback using coupon code E17ZIZEK.

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.

New Books in February

Can you believe it’s already February? Our Spring 2017 season is in full swing. Check out these new books dropping this month:

misinterpellated-subject-coverIn The Misinterpellated SubjectJames R. Martel complicates Louis Althusser’s theory of interpellation, using historical and literary analyses ranging from the Haitian Revolution to Ta-Nehisi Coates to examine the political and revolutionary potential inherent in the instances when people heed the state’s call that was not meant for them.

Fans of literature and iconic literary theorist Slavoj Žižek shouldzizek-cover enjoy Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask ŽižekThis volume demonstrates the importance of Slavoj Žižek’s work to literary criticism and theory by showing how his practice of reading theory and literature can be used in numerous theoretical frameworks and applied to literature across historical periods, nationalities, and genres, creating new interpretations of familiar works.

dying-in-full-detail-coverIn analyses of digital death footage—from victims of police brutality to those who jump from the Golden Gate Bridge—Jennifer Malkowski’s Dying in Full Detail considers the immense changes digital technologies have introduced in the ability to record and display actual deaths—one of documentary’s most taboo and politically volatile subjects.

Mark Rifkin’s Beyond Settler Time disrupts settler temporalbeyond-settler-time-cover frameworks. Rifkin explores how Indigenous experiences with time and the dominance of settler colonial conceptions of temporality have affected Native peoplehood and sovereignty, thereby rethinking the very terms by which history is created and organized around time by.

magic-of-concepts-coverIn The Magic of ConceptsRebecca E. Karl interrogates the concept and practice of “the economic” as it was understood in China in the 1930s and the 1980s and 90s, showing how the use of Eurocentric philosophies, narratives, and conceptions of the economic that exist outside lived experiences fail to capture modern China’s complex history.

Kaushik Sunder Rajan, in his latest book Pharmocracyworks atpharmocracy-cover the confluence of politics and racial capitalism. He traces the structure and operation of what he calls pharmocracy—a concept explaining the global hegemony of the multinational pharmaceutical industry. He outlines pharmocracy’s logic in two case studies from contemporary India to demonstrate the stakes of its intersection with health, politics, democracy, and global capital.

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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.

 

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.

Bodies, Space, and Feminism in the Arab World

978-0-8223-6241-8-with-ruleAs the 2011 uprisings in North Africa reverberated across the Middle East, a diverse cross section of women and girls publicly disputed gender and sexual norms in novel, unauthorized, and often shocking ways. In a series of case studies ranging from Tunisia’s 14 January Revolution to the Taksim Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, the contributors to Freedom without Permission, edited by Frances S. Hasso and Zakia Salime, reveal the centrality of the intersections between body, gender, sexuality, and space to these groundbreaking events.

Essays include discussions of the blogs written by young women in Egypt, the Women2Drive campaign in Saudi Arabia, the reintegration of women into the public sphere in Yemen, the sexualization of female protesters encamped at Bahrain’s Pearl Roundabout, and the embodied, performative, and artistic spaces of Morocco’s 20 February Movement.

Conceiving of revolution as affective, embodied, spatialized, and aesthetic forms of upheaval and transgression, the contributors to Freedom without Permission show how women activists imagined, inhabited, and deployed new spatial arrangements that undermined the public-private divisions of spaces, bodies, and social relations, continuously transforming them through symbolic and embodied transgressions.

ddcsa_35_3Hasso and Salime join other scholars in the special forum “The Politics of Feminist Politics,” published in a recent issue of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (volume 35, issue 3), to explore further the vexed political terrain of feminism in the twenty-first century.

The essays in this forum span a wide range of sites in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. “Scandals of Seduction and the Seductions of Scandal” investigates violence, Muslim women, and legal judgments on rape in Bangladesh, while “Reading Malala” looks at girls’ rights through a close reading of the 2013 memoir I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. The issue also features examinations of the First Ladies in the neoliberal Arab world, specifically Queen Rania of Jordan and Asma al-Assad of Syria; body politics and revolution in Tunisia and Egypt; the Personal Status Code and the precarious status of women’s rights in Syria; the participation of women in popular Islamist movements such as the Tunisian Resistance Movement (Ennahda) in the aftermath of the Arab Spring; and power, policing, and the sexed body in post-2011 Tahrir.

As Lila Abu-Lughod writes in her introduction, “These essays track the everyday languages and institutions of governance, policing, and morality by working carefully through such diverse fields as legal cases and legal reasoning, histories of education, dynamics of marriage, arts of linguistic transformation, politics of religious argument, legitimations of state power, and political economies of labor and housing.”

Read the special forum, made freely available, and save 30% when ordering Freedom without Permission from us with coupon code E16FREED.

History’s Ghosts

wpj_33_3In the most recent issue of World Policy Journal, “History’s Ghosts,” contributors grapple with attempts by various governments to mobilize history to serve their own authority and erase the blemishes of history by writing over them. “The past always haunts the present, but most political science fails to acknowledge, let alone describe, the influence of history’s ghosts,” editor Christopher Shay argues.

Topics in this issue include using Sanskrit to advance a Hindu supremacist agenda in India, using a rhetoric of peace to justify aggression and imperialism in Japan, removing the Oromo and other minority groups from the Battle of Adwa in Ethiopian history and national storylines, and how the Chinese Communist Party compelled a country to forget Tiananmen Square in 1989.

“Our writers remind us that simply remembering history is not enough. Many people recall their trauma and then inflict the same suffering on others. A worthwhile project of remembering, [Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh] Nguyen says, ‘has to get us to figure out a way to prevent that suffering from happening again,'” Shay concludes.

To learn more, read “The Big Question: What Lessons from History Keep Being Forgotten?,” made freely available.