Women’s Studies

The Most Read Articles of 2022

Explore the 10 most read articles of the year across all of our journals, freely available until the end of February.

“The Pregnancy-Related Mortality Impact of a Total Abortion Ban in the United States: A Research Note on Increased Deaths Due to Remaining Pregnant” by Amanda Jean Stevenson, Demography volume 58, issue 6

“The Effect(s) of Teen Pregnancy: Reconciling Theory, Methods, and Findings” by Christina J. Diaz and Jeremy E. Fiel, Demography volume 53, issue 1

“The Influence of Climate Fiction: An Empirical Survey of Readers” by Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Environmental Humanities volume 10, issue 2 

“Cisgenderism” by Erica Lennon and Brian J. Mistler, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly volume 1, issue 1-2

“Anticolonialism and the Decolonization of Political Theory” by Adom Getachew and Karuna Mantena, Critical Times volume 4, issue 3

“Slow Loss: Black Feminism and Endurance” by Jennifer C. Nash, Social Text volume 40, number 2 (151)

“Venus in Two Acts” by Saidiya Hartman, Small Axe: A Carribean Journal of Criticism volume 12, issue 2

“Shakespeare’s Starlings: Literary History and the Fictions of Invasiveness” by Lauren Fugate and John MacNeill Miller, Environmental Humanities volume 13, issue 2

“Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy” by Alice E. Marwick, Public Culture volume 27, number 1 (75)

“What is Wellness Now?” by Anna Kirkland, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law volume 39, issue 5

 

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.

Never miss a new book! Sign up for our e-mail newsletters, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

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.

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.

Q&A with Jennifer C. Nash

Nash

 

Jennifer C. Nash is Jean Fox O’Barr Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University. Her new book is Birthing Black Mothers, which examines how the figure of the “Black mother” has become a powerful political category. She has previously published two other books with Duke University Press, The Black Body in Ecstasy: Reading Race, Reading Pornography and Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality

 

In your acknowledgements, you write that Birthing Black Mothers was born alongside the birth of your own daughter. How does this personal, lived experience inform your work? 

Perhaps all scholarly projects are born of the intersections of the experiential and the intellectual, even as academic life hasn’t always made it possible to name these intersections. I’ve always been deeply interested in how scholarly interests shift, move, and change in response to the conditions of our lives. The questions that we pose are fundamentally altered by the fact that we are embodied beings, that we contend with the world and its complexities. 

In this project, I name the fact that the book was born with my daughter, or more specifically, born in the weeks before her birth, as I navigated life as a Black perinatal subject. I became very curious about the hospital, the birthing center, the obstetrician, the midwife, the doula, the prenatal check-up, and the lactation consultant. I wanted to understand how those spaces and actors operated, and how they constructed me as a Black woman patient (and how I represented myself as such) in a moment where those spaces were increasingly responsive to—or supposedly responsive to—the “crisis” in Black maternal health. I wanted to understand what it meant to birth in a moment when the very fact of my birthing (or soon-to-be birthing) body was saturated with a different kind of political meaning. Black perinatal bodies are newly imagined not as pathological but in need of education, information, support, and compassion. My project came to life as I experienced the compassionate—and, as I argue in my book, not unproblematic—maternal health institutions that imagined my body and my daughter’s body as distinctly in need of support. 

You speak to the cultural impact of the Black Lives Matter movement in your introduction and throughout your book. What is the relationship between Birthing Black Mothers and BLM?

978-1-4780-1442-3-1Even as BLM is often described—and, at times, criticized—for placing Black boys and Black men at the center of its conception of anti-Black violence, I make a different argument in Birthing Black Mothers. I contend that Black mothers have become a central icon of the movement for Black life. At times, Black mothers are described as representing anticipated loss, as preparing themselves (and their children) for anti-Black trauma that is to unfold in the future. Other times, Black mothers are culturally invoked to make visible the trauma of losing a child, and thus become synonymous with grief, trauma, and loss. 

With the new cultural visibility of longstanding Black maternal health disparities, birthing Black mothers and perinatal Black bodies are now imagined—in perhaps the most literal way—to be a vessel of Black life. Black mothers are thus figured as standing at the intersections of multiple forms of state violence: they are guardians of their children’s lives, and they also experience medical racism, obstetric violence, and birth injustice that makes Black life precarious from its earliest moments. In this moment, anti-Black death is understood to take the form only of the police officer’s fist, baton, or chokehold, and to take the form of the obstetrician, the hospital, or the unwanted C-section. Black wombs are thus imagined as ground zero of crisis, as spaces under siege that require care and protection to ensure the viability of Black life.

In your third chapter, you focus on three celebrities engaged in redefining what you term “Black maternal aesthetics.” What was your inspiration for centering this chapter on Serena Williams, Beyonce Knowles-Carter, and Michelle Obama? 

I was drawn to how this celebrity trio has rewritten scripts about Black motherhood, Black female friendship, and what Claudia Rankine calls “Black excellence.” My chapter is inspired by so many scholars who have written on Williams, Knowles-Carter, and Obama: like Rankine’s essay, or Brittney Cooper’s work on Michelle Obama. My own endeavor was to think about these three figures together, to consider their friendships, collaborations, and investments in championing each other. I particularly wanted to emphasize how the trio centers Black female friendship as a Black maternal ethic, as a distinct form of relationality that Black motherhood renders possible. This friendship has also been forged through their shared commitment to reshaping narratives about maternal affect, postpartum bodies, and the sheer demands of mothering. This kind of Black maternal friendship offers a very different public performance than another contemporary, hypervisible public performance of Black maternal relationality: the Mothers of the Movement. Described by Valerie Castile as the “fucked-up mothers club,” the group—including Sybrina Fulton, Lezley McSpadden, Lucy McBath, Gwen Carr, and Geneva Reed-Veal—is a political affiliation forged through shared trauma. Their shared losses might be understood as born both from the death—or murder—of a child, and from the state inaction that marked many of these cases, including non-indictments and not-guilty verdicts. Knowles-Carter, Obama, and Williams offer a markedly different performance of Black maternal friendship, one rooted not in shared loss but in Black maternal pleasure, glamour, and playfulness, even as the collective—particularly Knowles—often operates in solidarity with Mothers of the Movement.

Your second chapter is dedicated to exploring the effect of women of color doulas and other birth-workers, whose personal care, you argue, is a form of political work. You write that much of this doula work is currently funded by the state, though you remain less than optimistic about the state’s support of and investment in Black life. Can you shed light on this seeming paradox?

The book’s second chapter (which is actually the first one I wrote, and perhaps where my biggest political and intellectual attachments remain) tracks my critical ambivalence about the paraprofessional feminist birth economy, particularly the work of doulas. I study a moment when doulas—particularly women of color doulas—are hailed as precisely the innovation that will save Black mothers’ lives. And it is now—increasingly—the state that insists on the necessity of doulas, with some states even working to cover doulas through Medicaid, and to recruit and train doulas.

Doulas are, as I argue in this chapter, outliers in the feminist birth economy. Unlike midwives—the birth professionals they are most often associated with—doulas are unlicensed and unregulated, and their trainings vary tremendously, as does their sense of what kind of labor birth work is, and what is required to perform this labor. This variation is powerful, and as I write in the book, it allows doulas to subvert and interrupt the norms of institutionalized medicine in ways that challenge the stronghold of medical capitalism and its logics of birthing temporalities that all too often result in unwanted (or unneeded) C-sections and other forms of birth violence.  Yet it is a complicated moment when the state invests in paraprofessional birth work as the solution to Black maternal mortality, and when it insists that it is low-paid and heterogeneously trained birth workers (who, again, I emphasize are united by a deep ethical, political, and oftentimes spiritual commitment to the transformative qualities of birth) who are newly responsible for Black life.

You push back against the rhetoric of crisis which currently dominates discussion about Black mothers, converting them into “a political category synonymous with pain.” And in your conclusion, you encourage Black feminists to “freedom-dream.” What does this mean to you, exactly, and what alternative rhetorical frameworks do you envision?

My work has generally been interested in how Black women are rhetorically invoked to perform symbolic work for a host of actors. I have traced what Black women symbolize for academic feminism, for Black feminist theory, for the state, for hospitals, and for birth workers. In all of these cases, Black women become different kind of symbols: of pathology, trauma, grief, pain, and brokenness. I am also deeply interested in how Black mothers make themselves into symbols of certain sorts to become politically legible, to have their/our needs and demands heard and rendered legible. My call to “freedom-dream” is a plea for Black feminists to refuse to be seduced by the moment we are in, one where Black mothers are thought to simply need compassion. This moment feels appealing because Black mothers are not imagined as producing the fiscal and moral downfall of the state, but instead as requiring information, support, and education. But the moment is part of this much longer history of transforming Black mothers from complex people with heterogeneous demands and desires, into symbolic currency for a host of political movements which all too rarely hear or honor Black women’s needs. My call for freedom-dreaming is for Black feminist interventions that refuse the logics of the present, even as they can feel alluring.

Read the introduction to Birthing Black Mothers for free and save 30% on the paperback with coupon code E21NASH.

New Books in August

Don’t miss all our exciting new releases in August!

In three long-form poems and a lyrical essay, fahima ife speculates in Maroon Choreography on the afterlives of Black fugitivity, unsettling the historic knowledge of it while moving inside the ongoing afterlives of those people who disappeared themselves into rural spaces beyond the reach of slavery.

Rachel Zolf activates the last three lines of a poem by Jewish Nazi Holocaust survivor Paul Celan—“No one / bears witness for the / witness”—to theorize the poetics and im/possibility of witnessing in No One’s Witness.

In Amkoullel, the Fula Boy, Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ—one of the towering figures in the literature of twentieth-century Francophone Africa—tells in striking detail the story of his youth, which was set against inter-ethnic conflict and the arrival and installation of French colonialism.

In The Politics of Decolonial Investigation Walter D. Mignolo provides a sweeping examination of how colonialty has operated around the world in its myriad forms between the sixteenth and twenty-first centuries while calling for a decolonial politics that would delink from all forms of Western knowledge.

Laurence Coderre explores the material culture of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in Newborn Socialist Things to show how it paved the way for rampant commodification and consumption in contemporary China.

Carolyn Hardin offers a new way of understanding arbitrage—the trading practice that involves buying assets in one market at a cheap price and immediately selling them in another market for a profit—as a means of showing how its reliance upon taking on risk is fundamental to financial markets in Capturing Finance.

Monica Huerta draws on her experiences growing up in her family’s Mexican restaurants and her life as an academic in Magical Habits to sketch out habits of living that allow us to consider what it means to live with history as we are caught up in it and how those histories bear on our capacities to make sense of our lives.

The contributors to Long Term, edited by Scott Herring and Lee Wallace, use the tension between the popular embrace and legalization of same-sex marriage and the queer critique of homonormativity as an opportunity to examine the myriad forms of queer commitments and their durational aspect.

In Domestic Contradictions Priya Kandaswamy brings together two crucial moments in welfare history—the advent of the Freedmen’s Bureau during Reconstruction and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996—to show how they each targeted Black women through negative stereotyping and normative assumptions about gender, race, and citizenship.

In Policing Protest Paul A. Passavant explores how the policing of protest in the United States has become increasingly hostile since the late 1990s, moving away from strategies that protect protestors toward militaristic practices designed to suppress legal protests.

In A Black Intellectual’s Odyssey Martin Kilson—the first tenured African American professor at Harvard—takes readers on a fascinating journey from his upbringing in a small Pennsylvania mill town to his experiences as an undergraduate to pursuing graduate study at Harvard before spending his entire career there as a faculty member.

In Whiteness Interrupted, Marcus Bell presents a revealing portrait of white teachers in majority Black schools to outline how white racial identity is constructed based on localized interactions and the ways whiteness takes a different form in predominantly Black spaces.

Jennifer C. Nash examines how the figure of the “Black mother” has become a powerful political category synonymous with crisis, showing how they are often rendered into one-dimensional symbols of tragic heroism and the ground zero of Black life in Birthing Black Mothers.

Transnational Feminist Itineraries, edited by Ashwini Tambe and Millie Thayer, demonstrates the key contributions of transnational feminist theory and practice to analyzing and contesting authoritarian nationalism and the extension of global corporate power.

In Reimagining Social Medicine from the South Abigail H. Neely explores social medicine’s possibilities and limitations at one of its most important origin sites: the Pholela Community Health Centre (PCHC) in South Africa.

Q&A with Jennifer Morgan, author of Reckoning with Slavery

Jennifer L. Morgan is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History at New York University, author of Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, and coeditor of Connexions: Histories of Race and Sex in America. In her new book, Reckoning with Slavery: Gender, Kinship, and Capitalism in the Early Black Atlantic, she draws on the lived experiences of enslaved African women in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries to reveal the contours of early modern notions of trade, race, and commodification in the Black Atlantic.

You open your book by pointing out the change in attitudes and legal codes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which increasingly sought to fix categories of difference through the concept of race. What significance does this have for our understanding of early American history?

By rooting our understanding of the development of race and racial hierarchy in the sixteenth century, I am arguing that early Americanists must take a longer view on the conceptual landscape that leads to the connection between race, slavery, and colonial settlement, one that precedes the formal entry of the English into the Atlantic world. We have recently been challenged to think about the origins of American History as rooted in 1619 rather than in 1776. I fully support this shift, but also want us to take account of all that precedes 1619. The circulation of people, ideas, and texts about race and what will become hereditary racial slavery begins in Europe in the fifteenth century. Those first Africans sold into North America came from first Portuguese, then English enslavers—the latter carrying authorization from Dutch and Italian merchants. In other words, the ideological and material structures that produce both slavery and race are deeply entangled in the medieval and early modern period. We need to be cognizant of such histories. 

In your attempts to change the way we think about history, you argue against the use of the word “condition” in relation to enslavement, opting instead for the word “predicament.” Can you say more about this stance?

This is an intervention that I learned from the historian Vincent Brown. He argues, and I concur, that the word ‘predicament’ offers us a way to resituate the temporal and agential aspects of enslavement. A condition is fixed. It is a position in which one is settled. A predicament is a problem. It suggests that the person who is caught in the predicament is both aware of its constrictions and actively works against them. There is a crucial shift in imagination and analysis that accompanies the shift in language. When we identify a person as “a slave,” we have characterized their condition—it is timeless and is something that has happened to them. When we identify a person as enslaved, we clarify that someone has done something to them. There is an agent here who has caused the predicament, and in identifying the agent, we can imagine both the intentionality of the enslaver and the probability that the woman or man who has been enslaved both understands who has done this to them and is committed to escaping the confines of that predicament by any means at their disposal.

There is an intentional push, throughout your book, to recognize enslaved Black women and men as thinkers who not only experienced their predicaments but assessed them as well. What significance does this hold for scholars of slavery, the Early Atlantic, and Black Studies more broadly?

It has been at the forefront of scholarship on slavery and the early Black Atlantic for some time to understand Black women and men as historical subjects. To not reduce them to one-dimensional victims or revolutionaries, to understand the complexity of their personhood as we work to construct the processes by which they defined themselves and built new communities. My own effort to name Black women as thinkers, as persons who brought analytic power to the uneven terrain on which they found themselves, is part of that effort. It is a gesture on my part that is rooted in my concern that one-dimensionality is part of the afterlife of slavery, a part of the ongoing problem of racism and racial hierarchies. If we can’t see Black people as complex historical actors from the distance of time, I fear that we will always be mired in the violence of misrecognition, in the structures that reduce Black life and render people discardable.

In the vein of Cedric Robinson’s Black Marxism, you argue for recognizing the simultaneity of racism and capitalism. It seems that the trade in women, too, is central to your project. How do Black women’s bodies figure into the processes of commerce and commodification? What do we learn by centering Black women’s experiences?  

My work has always been organized in part around the problem of reproductive potential. What does it mean when your body can, even if it doesn’t, produce a child? What does it mean when the structure into which that child could be born is one that extracts the child as a commodity, not as a member of a family? By centering women, we get to what I believe is the heart of the system of racial slavery, the claim that the body is a site of commodification and the production of race as a legible sign of provenance. I am committed to thinking through Black women’s experiences of enslavement and freedom in the early Atlantic world both because they were historical subjects who are infinitely worthy of our attention as scholars and readers of history, and also because they enable us to make visible some of the ideological processes by which the entire history of capitalism was subtended by the hereditary mark of enslavability.

One of your major interventions is in examining numeracy and race together. At the same time, you note the presence of emotions—like wrath—hidden underneath the numeric, rationalizing logics of slavery. What do you wish your readers to gain from thinking about both numbers and feelings?

We often turn to numerical data—demographic or economic records—to offer ballast for historical narratives that are about emotions without recognizing that the separation between the two is in fact an artifact of modern knowledge production. In the history of slavery and the slave trade, the compilation of numerical data is an active process of obfuscating the violence of racial slavery. Human beings get situated in the historical archive only as data points, as evidence of economy, in part because racial slavery depends upon the fiction that some people are rationally enslaveable. It is not an accident that writing the history of enslaved people poses profound archival challenges—Black people were not meant to be historical subjects. By examining numbers and feelings in the same frame we move closer to understanding both the violence of such abstractions and the emotions—and liberatory possibilities—that such abstractions obscure.

Read the introduction to Reckoning with Slavery and save 30% on the paperback with the coupon code E21MORGN.

New Books in June

Looking for some summer reading? Check out the great new titles we have coming out in June!

Jennifer L. Morgan draws on the lived experiences of enslaved African women in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries in Reckoning with Slavery to reveal the contours of early modern notions of trade, race, and commodification in the Black Atlantic.

In Decolonizing Memory, Jill Jarvis examines the crucial role that writers and artists have played in cultivating historical memory and nurturing political resistance in Algeria, showing how literature offers the unique ability to reckon with colonial violence and to render the experiences of those marginalized by the state.

The contributors to Beyond Man, edited by An Yountae and Eleanor Craig, reckon with the colonial and racial implications of the philosophy of religion’s history by staging a conversation between it and Black, Indigenous, and decolonial studies.

In Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, Martin Savransky draws on the pragmatic pluralism of William James and the ontological turn in anthropology to propose a “pluralistic realism”—an understanding of ontology in which at any given time the world is both one and many, ongoing and unfinished.

In How to Go Mad Without Losing Your Mind, La Marr Jurelle Bruce ponders the presence of “madness” in black literature, music, and performance since the early twentieth century, showing how artist ranging from Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill to Nina Simone and Dave Chappelle activate madness as content, form, aesthetic, strategy, philosophy, and energy in an enduring black radical tradition.

Việt Lê examines contemporary art in Cambodia and Việt Nam in Return Engagements to trace the entwinement of militarization, trauma, diaspora, and modernity in Southeast Asian art.

In Images of Beirut, Hatim El-Hibri explores how the creation and circulation of images has shaped the urban spaces and cultural imaginaries of Beirut, showing how images can be used to consolidate or destabilize regimes of power.

Editors Diana Paton and Matthew J. Smith combine more than one hundred classic and lesser-known texts in The Jamaica Reader to present a panoramic history of the country—from its pre-contact Indigenous origins to the present—and provide an unparalleled look at Jamaica’s history, culture, and politics.

In Colonial Debts, Rocío Zambrana uses the current political-economic moment in Puerto Rico to outline how debt functions as both an apparatus that strengthens neoliberalism and the island’s colonial relation to the United States.

Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández challenges the stereotypes of machismo in Archiving Mexican Masculinities in Diaspora with nuanced portraits of Mexican men and masculinities along and across the US-Mexico border.

The contributors to Words and Worlds, edited by Veena Das and Didier Fassin, examine the state of politics and the political imaginary within contemporary societies by taking up the everyday words such as democracy, revolution, and populism that we use to understand the political present.

A concise, easy-to-understand reference book, the revised and updated second edition of the bestselling All about Your Eyes tells you what you need to know to care for your eyes, various eye diseases and treatments, and what to expect from your eye doctor. The editors, Sharon Fekrat, Tanya S. Glaser, and Henry L. Feng are all physicians at the world-renown Duke Eye Center.

In an indispensable guide for all ethnographers, the editors of Experimenting with Ethnography, Andrea Ballestero and Brit Ross Winthereik, collect twenty-one essays that offer concrete suggestions for thinking about and doing ethnographic research and writing.

The contributors to Sound Alignments, edited by Michael K. Bourdaghs, Paola Iovene, and Kaley Mason, explore the myriad forms of popular music in Asia during the Cold War, showing how it took on new meanings and significance as it traveled across the region and forged and challenged alliances, revolutions, and countercultures.

Shaoling Ma examines late Qing China’s political upheavals and modernizing energies through the problem of the dynamics between new media technologies such as the telegraph the discursive representations of them in The Stone and the Wireless.

Never miss a new book! Sign up for our e-mail newsletters, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

Honoring Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 is International Women’s Day! This month we are highlighting some recent titles that honor the central but too-often neglected roles women play across history and around the globe.

In Empire’s Mistress Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez follows the life of Filipina vaudeville and film actress Isabel Rosario Cooper, who was the mistress of General Douglas MacArthur, to explore the contours of empire as experienced on the scale of personal relationships.

In Revisiting Women’s Cinema Lingzhen Wang examines the work of Chinese women filmmakers of the Mao and post-Mao eras to theorize socialist and postsocialist feminism, mainstream culture, and women’s cinema in modern China.

Chelsea Szendi Schieder examines the campus-based New Left in Japan by exploring the significance of women’s participation in the protest movements of the 1960s in Coed Revolution.

Samantha Pinto’s Infamous Bodies explores how histories of and the ongoing fame of Phillis Wheatley, Sally Hemings, Sarah Baartman, Mary Seacole, and Sarah Forbes Bonetta generate new ways of imagining black feminist futures.

In Emancipation’s Daughters Riché Richardson examines how five iconic black women—Mary McLeod Bethune, Rosa Parks, Condoleezza Rice, Michelle Obama, and Beyoncé—defy racial stereotypes and construct new national narratives of black womanhood in the United States.

In Relative Races Brigitte Fielder presents an alternative theory of how race is constructed with readings of nineteenth-century personal narratives, novels, plays, stories, poems, and images to illustrate how interracial kinship follows non-heteronormative, non-biological, and non-patrilineal models of inheritance in nineteenth-century literary culture.


In Claiming Union Widowhood Brandi Clay Brimmer analyzes the US pension system from the perspective of poor black women in the period before, during, and after the Civil War outlines the struggles of mothers, wives, and widows of black Union soldiers to claim rights in the face of unjust legislation.

In Black Aliveness Kevin Quashie analyzes texts by of Lucille Clifton, June Jordan, Toni Morrison, Evie Shockley, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others to argue for a Black aliveness that is disarticulated from antiblackness and which provides the basis for the imagination and creation of a Black world.

In The Wombs of Women Françoise Vergès examines the scandal of white doctors forcefully terminating the pregnancies of thousands of poor women of color on the French island of Réunion during the 1960s, showing how they resulted from the legacies of the racialized violence of slavery and colonialism.

Engaging with the work of Black musicians, writers, and women mystics, in Black Utopias Jayna Brown takes up the concept of utopia as an occasion to explore new states of being, doing, and imagining in Black culture.

In Information Activism Cait McKinney traces how lesbian feminist activists in the United States and Canada between the 1970s and the present developed communication networks, databases, and digital archives to use as a foundation for their feminist, antiracist, and trans-inclusive work.

In A Regarded Self Kaiama L. Glover examines Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean literature whose female protagonists enact practices of freedom that privilege the self, challenge the prioritization of the community over the individual, and refuse masculinist discourses of postcolonial nation building.

The “20th Anniversary Reader” of Meridians, edited by Ginetta E. B. Candelario, features thirty of the journal’s most frequently cited, downloaded, and anthologized works since its first issue was published in fall 2000. The forty authors featured in the special supplement are a virtual who’s who of internationally renowned women-of-color scholar-activists (such as Sara Ahmed, Angela Davis, Sonia Alvarez, Paula Giddings, and Sunera Thobani) and award-winning poets (such as Nikky Finney, Laurie Ann Guerrero, and Suheir Hammad).

And check out our Feminist Politics and Women’s Rights Syllabus, one of several staff-curated syllabi focusing on today’s most critical issues.