Issue 12.1-12.2 | Fall 2013/Spring 2014 / Guest edited by Janet R. Jakobsen and Catherine Sameh

Activism and the Academy: A Utopian Proposition

If happiness and optimism appear too often as individual, psychological, overbearing and annoying to those excluded from their complacent joys, doesn’t hope sometimes arrive in collective, political and insurgent forms? …. [W]hat might the impact of mobilized hopefulness … be? That is the animating question for the political present. Can collective hope without delusion or guarantees generate future possibilities beyond any present expectation? Can those of us without happiness or optimism (however otherwise ecstatic we might nonetheless be) generate collective hope now? Or can such hope be a sop, a con, a misdirection of collective energies? … Negative sentiments like cynicism, opportunism, depression, bitchiness are often seen as solipsistic, individualistic and anti-communal affective stances associated with an emotional tonality of hopelessness. Yet these bad sentiments can signal the capacity to transcend hopelessness…. When we started this writing project it seemed like most folks assumed that we would be writing about “hope vs hopelessness” or at the very least “hope or hopelessness.” But as this collaborative project progressed it became clear to us that the most important word in our title was the conjunction “and.”… We write for and from an “and” in the hopes to better describe actually existing and potential queer worlds that thrive with, through and because of the negative.
–Lisa Duggan and José Estaban Muñoz, “Hope and Hopelessness: A Dialogue”[1]

This issue of The Scholar & Feminist Online developed from two conferences. The first, “Activism and the Academy” was organized in honor of the 40th anniversary of the 1971 founding of the Barnard Women’s Center, now the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW). The “Activism and the Academy” conference articulated both the on-going work of the Center and some of our hopes and visions for the future of that work. We conjoin those conversations with responses to the “Scholar and Feminist XXXVIII: Utopia,” held in 2013, which extended these discussions of possibility in innovative and exciting ways. The presentations, workshops and interactions at both of these conferences were so generative that they clearly provided a strong foundation for the fifth decade of the Center’s work. For this issue, then, we invited responses and discussion about key sessions from the conferences, allowing our colleagues and partners to create additional videos, works of art, and pointed commentary.

As we developed these conversations about social change, changes were also taking place at the Center: Catherine Sameh, co-editor of this issue and Associate Director of BCRW accepted an Assistant Professorship at the University of California, Irvine and became one of our collaborative scholar/activist partners. And our Barnard colleague, Tina Campt, in Africana and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, joined BCRW as Co-Director. This year, 2014-15, will be my fifteenth and final year as Director. Having seen the Center through its 40th anniversary (and this spring we will also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the “Scholar & Feminist” Conference), I am thrilled that Tina will be taking over the directorship in July 2015. All of these changes have made writing this introduction a more affectingly personal undertaking than it might have been otherwise. I offer you some synthesis and reflections on the materials you will find as you explore this issue, and, I also offer some thoughts on the work of the Center itself.

Activism and the Academy

Working in the contemporary academy can be engaging and exciting, but in this era of corporate governance/governmentality, it can also be frustrating and alienating. As the videos in this issue from the “Queer Dreams and Non-Profit Blues” conference sponsored by the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School show, activism can similarly sometimes stoke one’s dreams, and sometimes give one nightmares. I once asked my students on the first day of my “Theorizing Activisms” course if they had nostalgia for the social movements of the 1960s, and nearly all of them nodded, “yes,”–which floored me at the time, because not only had they not been born in the 1960s, neither had many of their parents. The power of this longing for social change clearly crosses generations, and yet it can also create alienation for one’s work, whether or not that work takes place in the academy. The alienation of labor in this moment includes the fetishizing of activity itself–be an entrepreneur of your life, start a business by the time you’re twelve, create a killer app and get rich quick. The academy, which promises all kinds of movement and progress–class mobility for our students, new knowledge for social movements, and the expansion of democratic citizenship–most often produces change that reinforces the entrenched order of things. The more our institutions work to bring in a “diverse” group of students, the more these same work simultaneously to ensure their place in hierarchies of prestige that reinforce the class hierarchies of the United States. The more the institutions provide funding for new forms of knowledge about social stratification and systematic injustice, the more the institutions use that work to reinforce their status as dedicated to social justice, even as these same institutions advance their interests in ways that dramatically emphasize their power in relation to the communities around them, by, for example, using eminent domain to take over poor neighborhoods that stand in the way of expansion, as Columbia University has recently done.

If the university is such an alienating place, why work there (as those of us associated with BCRW do)? Why work with academic institutions (as the activists and artists who partner with us do)? There are many answers to this question. For me the question is ultimately one of the values I’m committed to realizing in the world. Throughout my academic career, I’ve focused my work on questions of ethics, and have come to understand that one of the most important ways to resist alienation is to draw upon multiple sources of value. We live in a world wherein the market has the structural power to advance economic value as the only value that matters, and can make it difficult to imagine life organized differently. Universities, which are dedicated to producing and sharing knowledge, also face the pressures of market imperatives and can undertake the task of education in ways that that narrow our students’ sense of what’s possible, actually undermining our creation of knowledge, and dismissing the networks, partnerships and communities that we build. One of our jobs at the Barnard Center for Research on Women in resisting these pressures has been to expand the possibilities of what a “women’s college” might do in its focus on women, to create forms of knowledge that rethink what it means to be a “woman”, to shift the possible meanings of gender beyond the traditional binary of male and female, to develop ideas of feminism that are about more than advancing individual women, and to show that knowledge and education are not merely “academic,” but can have important effects in the world.

Effective social change has always relied on knowledge that can critique the present and open possibilities to the future. There are both artistic and activist traditions of knowledge production: Marx’s political economy and the work of generations of theorists who have amplified, criticized, and extended his theories; the revolutionary theory of the Zapatista movement in Mexico; the work of organic intellectuals like working-class Gramsci, who theorized that concept; the consciousness raising groups that were an important part of second wave feminism; Latin American base community study groups; Black Panther study groups; street theater groups in the Chicano movement in the U.S., and similar movements in India today.[2] All of these movements and many more provide a rich tradition to study, revise, and extend.

The genius of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, from its founding has been to recognize that knowledge is produced multiply, in both academic, scholarly places and in feminist, activist places–and that the most effective way that the Center could advance feminism and social justice would be to bring together academics and activists. Academic knowledge and activist knowledge come from different sources, are created under different conditions and can be antagonistic. In particular, academic knowledge can use its authority and the power and prestige of the institutions in which it is produced to discredit knowledge produced in less powerful places and by less powerful people. On the other hand, academic knowledge can be dismissed by activists as unreadable, irrelevant, and impractical. Yet, this antagonism is not necessary, because scholarship and feminism can go together. The purpose of “The Scholar and The Feminist” Conference (as it was first named in 1974), was precisely to draw upon the power of a conjoined project of knowledge production. And that conjoined approach has remained powerful in the succeeding decades. Conditions have changed, but BCRW understands that knowledge is still produced in multiple places and with multiple ends in view, and that such knowledge is valuable for the advancement of feminist social justice.

In the early to mid-1980s I worked for an activist policy group called the Washington Office on Africa, an organization dedicated to ending apartheid in South Africa. We organized political support for divestment from the apartheid state, and did investigative work, produced education packets, published a newsletter, and sent out action alerts that explained issues in detail. Much of our work was producing and distributing knowledge to back the political project. I literally spent my time writing, assembling, and mailing out organizing packets, which were also knowledge packets with fact sheets, analyses of policy, and the testimony of witnesses to the realities of the apartheid system. The assembling of packets, which didn’t take a lot of time or energy, would often come at the end of the day or on the weekends, and as I put them together I would daydream about various things. As my thoughts meandered, I often considered how helpful it would be to have more time for the thinking work that these packets represented and this desire was reflected back to me when I first became Director of the Center.

When I began as Director at BCRW, I gathered a group of scholars, activists, and academics in the hope of exploring what was possible across these messy boundaries, and in that group I learned that many activists would also like to participate in knowledge production on a daily basis and have more time, space and money to do so. The group itself never fully came together, but the project turned out to be generative in many different ways, creating new configurations and collaborations over the following years. One of the things that I learned from the group was how each of us found the position we were in to be alienating–the scholars wished they were more creative or that their work had more of an impact in the world outside the academy (and lo and behold, one had written a play and many were involved in activist projects), while the artists too wished their work were immediately effective and that making art were better paid, and the activists longed for time and space to think. It is perhaps too easy to think that we should “fish in the afternoon… [and] criticize after dinner,” as Marx would have us do, but it’s clear that whatever our working lives, we are alienated in some way in this capitalist world of ours.[3] Rather than trying to find the “right” location for our work, perhaps what we need is more actively to mess up the boundaries between and among art, activism and the academy.

One of the ways to work in this messier place, without it simply being a mess, is to be clear about what some of the constituent parts might contribute to such a mixed undertaking. One of the reasons that I value academic knowledge is because of the quality of what some people have taken to calling “slow knowledge,” akin to the “slow food” movement. By taking one’s time, one can resist both producing too quickly in order to meet the professional managerial imperative to be always “busy, busy, busy,” and also too quickly consuming knowledge that would be better understood were there time to digest it. There are good reasons for those who are dedicated to social change to value this slow kind of knowledge, even though it seems to run against an outcome-oriented focus on activism. Slowing things down for a moment allows scholars and activists to think about things without the hot pressure of urgent action, and to experiment with ideas that may or may not work out in the moment of action. But, for BCRW the slow knowledge of academia does not create an end point for our knowledge projects, rather we hope to link differently located feminist knowledges and practices.

Actually making durable connections is not easy; there is a real need in many movements for more practice at learning from one another. The boundaries between activism and the academy are both high and hierarchical, and activist artistic practice in turn engages equally powerful distinctions between high and low culture. We cannot simply wish away the differences in position, discrepancies in power, or complicities in exploitation that these boundaries create and enable. But, as the various panels, discussions, videos, papers, and artworks in this issue of S&F Online suggest, there is a lot that we can do.

The “Queer Dreams and Non-Profit Blues” videos show how critique can create the space for new approaches to seemingly intractable problems. The series of three videos with both scholars and activists who have been working to stop domestic violence offer a combined critique of our system for funding non-profit organizations and of the state’s use of violence (in the form of the criminal justice system) to stop domestic violence. By clearing the intellectual block created by the idea that the usual non-profit approach to violence–a system in which grants and gifts from powerful funders support the work of the state–is the obvious route to take, the participants in the video can then turn to alternatives that involve less institutional and more direct approaches to preventing, rather than punishing, violence. Another series of videos in this issue, “No One is Disposable,” with CeCe McDonald, Reina Gossett and Dean Spade explores further alternatives to state violence. CeCe McDonald was imprisoned for an act of self-defense in the face of street violence directed at her as a transgender woman of color. After a successful campaign mounted by activists all over the country to free her from prison, she is now sharing her understanding of how her story reflects the lives of so many people who are the targets of both legal and extra-legal violence. In conversation with Reina Gossett and Dean Spade, the video advocates a world in which “no one is disposable,” in which transgender lives cannot be dismissed as simply impossible and no one should be thrown away into our warehousing system of prisons, for which as CeCe so memorably says in the video, “There’s not enough Mop & Glo to make any prison safe for anybody.” Both sets of videos show that part of the intellectual work of activism is to imagine and create real paths toward alternatives to the violent world in which we currently find ourselves.

The art offered in this issue provides another means of conceptualizing these alternatives. All of the art offered here, from Molly Crabapple’s beautiful portrait of CeCe McDonald with words from CeCe’s blog to the selection of “Occuprint” posters curated by Rachel Mattson and Lindsey Caplan, to Nicci Yin’s “Atlas,”–shows how art allows us to rethink what we know (what, for example, maps tell us), what that knowledge means (what does it really mean to say “we are the 99%”?) and how we might use that knowledge (to, as CeCe says, “go beyond our natural selves”).

These alternatives are truly inspiring, but difficulties arise because there is no straight path (as it were) from the existing world to better alternatives. The academic institutions that are the focus of much of this issue provide examples of the challenges that are faced by virtually any project of social change: academic, activist or artistic. Given that the work we do, if it is to be effective, must be grounded in the world we want to change, how can we avoid simply reiterating the very structures and problematic social relations that we hope will be made different? Roderick A. Ferguson reflects on the promise and dangers of working for social justice through academic institutions by encouraging us to resist the demands of institutionalization, even as we seek to draw upon academic infrastructure for our work. Ferguson suggests that there is a certain “wisdom” to recognizing that the work of social justice remains, and will remain “unfinished,” that some of our biggest victories can be turned toward the benefit of corporate power and economic value, but that this need not be the case: “the possibility of having multiple futures for gender and sexuality depends on our ability to resume and redouble our efforts to reorganize knowledge and re-maneuver institutions. Such a possibility means that the institution will always be unfinished and available for rereading and rewriting.” Catherine Sameh takes up this combination of possibility and challenge with regard to transnational feminist alliances, whether academic or activist: “The global ascendancy of a particular kind of feminism, infused with neoliberalism, militarized humanitarianism, and colonial modes of relationality, has not only elided the multiplicities of different kinds of feminism, but has exacerbated relations of power and inequality.[4] And yet, as many feminists have long argued[5] , political and intellectual projects and affiliations across multiple differences and shared struggles have the potential to shift and challenge power, and create alternative worlds, including a world in which all women could live “in dignity, autonomy, and equality.”[6]

Dean Spade suggests that we address the challenges of working in and with academic institutions as directly as possible, by, for example, putting the student debt crisis at the center of activism on behalf of social justice. We shouldn’t turn away from the conditions under which all of those who make up the university–students, faculty, facilities and food service workers–labor. Thinking that academic work is somehow a life of the mind exempt from these embodied concerns can lead to participating in forms of domination and exploitation that we would not advocate intellectually as goods. But, given that the complexities of embodiment that any institutional work requires in general and that institutional work in the academy involves in specific ways, those of us engaged in activism and the academy remain in a place where, “We are experimenting, as always, walking the tightrope, guessing about what to do or not do next.” Building on this question of how to address the student debt crisis, Stephanie Luce revives the activist slogan “Another World is Possible” to address such seemingly overwhelming institutional issues writing, “As social justice activists … we know that we can still do better than the world we live in today. We have a lot of great ideas about what that alternative world might look like, but we will have to fight for the right to speak and make our knowledge into public knowledge …. We will have to continue our struggle to expand democracy and build inclusive societies and organizations. We must continue to share our stories and link our struggles. Another world is possible.”

Ali Rosa-Salas and Tavia N’yongo reflect on the film Wildness, which creatively depicts different (and sometimes conflicting) queer world-making at the Silver Platter Bar in Los Angeles, and which opened the “Utopia” conference. Ali helps us think through the idea that a project like the “Wildness” parties that are the subject of the film, could be a “successful failure.” If social change requires experimentation and innovation, shifts in social relations, and new types of connection among persons and communities, then failure is going to be part of the project. As Ali says in summation, “Wildness … teaches us that it is just as important to envision utopia as it is to accept the inevitability of its failure.” Tavia’s reading suggests that we also need to keep envisioning utopia, because one key support for worlds of alternative possibility is activities that provide a “sense of something more.” Sandy Soto expands on this idea to suggest that a sense of something more might include excitement and grief, grief at the daily injustices of our world and excitement about the underdetermined possibilities for change in that world.

One of the ways to build the knowledge necessary to realize something more is through narrative and storytelling. Whether journalistic or more personal, sharing our knowledge in the form of narrative offers a particularly powerful approach to a world that is simultaneously thrilling and enraging. Debanuj DasGupta raises up friendship as one of the acts, like narrative, that can make a difference, even a world-changing difference. Debanuj opens his reflections with a very direct and powerful statement, “Activism is divination of knowledge through rites of friendship.” Jesse Kadjo takes a similarly direct approach to a central question for this issue of S&F Online: “I found that the core question … was: How do we change our knowledge into action, and how do we do it on a grander scale? As we struggle with this every day, we can come up with better ways to find the right audience and send them the right message that calls them to action. In light of the recent Chicago Teachers’ Union strike, the first in 25 years, I have been thinking a lot about how the right knowledge and the right message can get a whole city on your side.” Abbie Boggs encourages us to think about what a queer ethos for campus activism might look like and how we might “imagine otherwise.” Anne Jonas also highlighted this queer ethos, while she expanded the focus to include both Jennifer Miller’s queer pedagogy (which combines her work with Circus Amok and her teaching at CUNY) and the “tilted” pedagogy offered by Marisa Rius from her teaching at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

Robyn Wiegman, in “If, Suddenly,” worries that having imaginative conversations alone will lead us away from any ability to have the difficult conversations about complicity and power that will enable the types of institutional transformations that we imagine. As I enter my fifteenth year as BCRW’s Director, I find the opposite to be true. I spend much too much of my day speaking with my colleagues about the intricacies of the micro-dynamics of power. We seem to be constantly embroiled in the all too real conversations about how our implication in the institution–in this case in the structures of Barnard College, particularly in its association with Columbia University–compromises our attempts at transformative education. We argue repeatedly about whether our struggles for power in the institution are nonetheless necessary in order to make the world better or at least avoid making it worse. Wiegman’s worry did inspire me to include some sense of those tensions and struggles in this introduction, lest we make the mistake she warns against of thinking imaginative encouragement is all that is required to advance the work of social justice.

Daily Practice and Utopian Hope

What does it mean, for example, to hold a salon on Janet Mock’s book Redefining Realness and trans women of color politics in an institution that is not only historically transphobic, homophobic and racist but that remains dedicated to these projects each day? The panelists repeatedly referred to the historic nature of this gathering of trans women of color and allies for this conversation. But, given the context of the conversation, this is an undertaking that is all mixed up at once: simultaneously liberatory, oppressive, repressive, world-making, exhilarating and befuddling. And, these contradictions have been present throughout the history of the Center, which was the first such center of its kind, founded in 1971. Actively pursuing feminism at a women’s college is a somewhat contradictory practice. The College was founded for feminist purposes in order to provide access to education to those who were, by virtue of their gender, refused access to Columbia University and to universities like it. But, the College was also founded to produce “women,” who were graduates of “women’s colleges,” who did them proud (and increasingly important in these years of the corporate university, returned with donations). The College ensured the “goodness” of its women in many, many ways, such as parietal rules and posture tests and through racial and religious barriers to who could be admitted to the College. And in the early 1970s it resisted establishing a Women’s Center, claiming that there was no need for a focus on feminism because the entire college was feminist. This insistence meant that the College didn’t need to own up to the ways in which it had taken on the job of policing the boundaries of womanhood itself. Then in 1982, the Scholar & Feminist IX was on “The Politics of Sexuality,” and became a flashpoint for conflict between anti-porn feminists and pro-sex feminists. It was a critical moment in feminist knowledge production. But it is also the moment at which the College wielded its power–actively censoring feminist knowledge and doing direct harm to the organizers of the conference–harm that continues to unfold its effects to this day.

One of the participants in that 1982 conference (not an organizer, but someone who had nonetheless felt the sting of both the feminists against pornography who organized against the conference and the College’s censorious response) once suggested to me that it might be a good idea to do a ritual to reset the social relations mobilized by the power of the College’s actions in this situation. I resisted, not because I don’t recognize the efficacy of ritual action (I study religion, after all), but because I saw no way to undo, ritually or otherwise, the College’s commitment to its repressive power, and to the wealth behind it. “We” could do a ritual, but we certainly didn’t have the power to change the Center’s implication in Barnard and Columbia.

One day in the office, we were discussing the nuances of how our work plays into the power of the institution, asking “are we just offering the institution an alibi for its exploitative actions by producing public discussions of social justice feminism” under the banner of Barnard College? This conversation took place shortly after the College had censored a student-posted banner advocating “Justice for Palestine,” and banned the tradition of outdoor student banners on Barnard Hall, directly below the Barnard College inscription chiseled into the front of the building. In this moment the College reclaimed a space that we had sometimes borrowed from the students to post banners for Scholar & Feminist conferences, and declared that only College boosterism could be seen under that inscription. The question on campus of what took place under the name of Barnard College was lively, and those of us working at the Center wondered if perhaps we were too sanguine in the idea that inviting radical activists to speak under that name made a difference. It was clear that we did provide a patina of “free speech” at the College during a time when speech was something less than “free.” But, then freedom isn’t free, which is both a queer Foucauldian insight and a militaristic slogan once used by the U.S. Army in its recruitment ads. And, so, the question was yet again how to navigate the dynamic action of a contradiction, which did not mean we could simply accept our complicity and move on.

This conversation also took place after we had made what we now thought to be a mistake. We had invited someone whose work aligned with our collaborative partners to an event sponsored by the College in the hope of broadening the conversation, but in the context of that conversation, she was not fully respected. It was a moment when we had tried to use our power to expand the conversation and had instead facilitated disrespect in the name of “breadth.” Having seen this mistake, will we avoid it in the future? Probably and probably not. Not only are these conversations difficult, but also they are based on judgments about the institutional context and the effects of action that are not always predictable.

As important as these conversations about the intricacies of power might be, they are not enough. First of all, they depend on a context for how to think about these immediate questions in relation to what at the Washington Office on Africa we called “the struggle for justice,” and at BCRW we call “social justice feminism.”[7] One of the central questions driving my academic work is about what freedom, justice and peace might mean. The answer is considerably less self-evident than you might think. These terms appear strikingly simple and straightforward, which means we rarely stop to think them through in their tangled histories and self-contradictions.

The conversations at “Activism and the Academy” and “Utopia” were opportunities to think hard and critically about what the political imagination of social justice feminism might be. These conversations do work that is both intellectual and emotional–they let us know–in our minds and our hearts and our bodies–what we’re fighting for. They give us hope. They bring together artists, activists, and intellectuals. Together we imagine future possibilities and while also shadowing them forth in our conversations, giving a concrete sense of what might be actually realizable through the work of the conferences. For me this sort of engagement enables the hard work for which Wiegman longs. Without Utopia I wouldn’t be able to do it–and by utopia, I don’t mean a specified vision of Elysium in which “we” will “all” live happily ever after. I mean something much more like what happened at these conferences. The kind of crazy (“tilted” in Marisa Rius’s language) activity of dreaming, discussing, disputing and discovering what might be possible. The utopian question that these conferences posed was neither the realist “is,” nor the moralist “should be,” but rather the queer, anti-colonialist (See), bearded (Miller), alternatively valued (Pellegrini), fun and furious (Duggan), imaginative (Boggs), familiar and strange (Jonas), exciting and grief-stricken (Soto), feminist in a different way (Sameh), desiring (Hollibaugh) instantiation of what “might be.”


We had invited BCRW’s friend and collaborator in New York City, José Estaban Muñoz, to open the Utopia conference and introduce the film, Wildness. But, scheduling conflicts made that particular utopian desire impossible to realize. “I am always happy to visit you folks upstate. I hope everything is good.” he wrote in a simultaneously hilarious and hopeful email when it became clear that we couldn’t make the dates work. His most recent visit to the Center had been with Ann Pellegrini and Tavia Nyong’o (both of whom appear in this issue) to discuss the complexities of hope and optimism with Lauren Berlant in anticipation of the publication of her book, Cruel Optimism. The last conversation I had with José was in the halls of the American Studies conference in November 2013 about contributing to the post-conference discussions of this issue of S&F Online. In that moment, his world-making enthusiasms ran to the comment, “I love Wu [the filmmaker of Wildness].” And in a way that is perhaps a cliché, I find José’s absence to be very present in how I think about this issue of S&F Online. But, such a messy mix up between presence and absence, art, activism and the academy, might be part of what he meant by the “then and there of queer utopia” in the subtitle of his book Cruising Utopia. Here and now, I can only say to that enthusiastic (late with his response paper for this issue, rushing to his panel at ASA) friend and comrade what Obama used to say back to the crowds in those heady, hopeful days of 2008, “I love you.”

  1. Lisa Duggan and José Estaban Muñoz, “Hope and Hopelessness: A Dialogue,” Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, Special Issue: Between Psychoanalysis and Affect: A Public Feelings Project, ed. José Estaban Muñoz, 19.2 (2009): 275-83. [Return to text]
  2. Shayoni Mitra, “Violating Performance: Women, Law, and the State of Exception,” BCRW Lecture, March 1, 2011. [Return to text]
  3. “In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.” Karl Marx, The German Ideology, 1845. [Return to text]
  4. See, Josephine Ho, “Is Global Governance Bad for East Asian Queers?” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, (2008) Vol. 14, No. 4; Elizabeth Bernstein, “Militarized Humanitarianism Meets Carceral Feminism: The Politics of Sex, Rights, and Freedom in Contemporary Antitrafficking Campaigns,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (2010), vol. 36, no. 1; Janet Halley, et. al. “From the International to the Local In Feminist Legal Responses to Rape, Prostitution/Sex Work, and Sex Trafficking: Four Studies in Contemporary Governance Feminism,” Harvard Journal of Law & Gender (2006): Vol. 29. [Return to text]
  5. See, for instance: Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider. New York: Ten Speed Press, 1984; Mohanty, Chandra. Feminism without Borders. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003; and Grewal, Inderpal and Caren Kaplan, editors. Scattered Hegemonies: Feminism, Postmodernity, and Transnational Feminist Practices. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. [Return to text]
  6. BCRW Mission Statement, available on [Return to text]
  7. The activist roots of this approach to feminism include the “New Women’s Movement Initiative” of the Ms. Foundation, led by Linda Burnham and described in detail in her essay, “The Absence of a Gender Justice Framework in the Social Justice Organizing,” Center for the Education of Women, University of Michigan, 2008, available online here (PDF). The term has now been widely taken up in academic, as well as activist circles. See, Kristin Kalsem and Verna L. Williams, “Social Justice Feminism,” UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 18.1 (2010): 1-64. Available online here. [Return to text]