COALITIONS OF PRACTICES AND POWER: GENDER, SEXUALITY, AND RESISTANCE
EDITED BY WESTON RICHEY AND SARAH FRANKIE SUMMERS
The reviews in this section all explore recent texts whose core analytical approaches have grown out of a history of feminist thought and methodology, recognizing the fruitful perspective of a gender- and sexuality-based analysis. The texts explore women’s lives and movements around the globe, utilize intersectional analyses, and probe the role of belonging, affect, and technology in a wave of new feminism. We have arranged them in such a way as to take the reader through a journey of ever-expanding feminisms through time and space.
The first three reviews of this section demonstrate that gender-based analyses are still relevant and yield fruitful perspectives on events and human experiences both past and present. Michael Vaclav’s review of Embodiment, Identity, and Gender in the Early Modern Age, edited by Amy E. Leonard and David M. Whitford, brings to light the impacts of gender on the bodies of women in the Early Modern period through the Protestant Reformation. In Autumn Reyes’s review of The Grip of Sexual Violence in Conflict: Feminist Interventions in International Law by Karen Engle, structural-bias feminism and carceral feminism are critiqued for their approaches to conflict-related sexual violence. Engle’s intervention implicitly models the recent shift made by gender and sexuality studies toward acknowledgment of the multiplicity of feminisms. Sarah Summers reviews a work commissioned by UN Women entitled “New Feminist Activism, Waves and Generations” which explicitly discusses the role of feminisms in understanding the history and influence on both academic studies and on women’s lives around the world. The transitions between waves of feminist movements are marked by widening circles of inclusive analysis and the role of technology in advancing these movements.
The next two reviews represent one of these shifts from a singular variable analysis of gender toward the compounding considerations of race and gender. Aashka Dave reviews The Perils of Populism edited by Sarah Tobias and Arlene Stein which offers an intersectional feminist reading of populism, nationalism, and authoritarianism and explores the gendered underpinnings of populism. Isabel Ibáñez de la Calle draws attention to the many ways social inequalities manifest in women’s lives in the short stories of Estella Gonzalez in a collection entitled Chola Salvation. These stories offer models of collective resistance and are themselves a model of resistance through creative expression.
Where Ibáñez de la Calle’s review foregrounds the power of fiction to subvert expectation, the reviews that follow it press on, nudge, smash—or, more simply, queer—the historical boundaries of feminist thought, or indeed, even of queer theory. Sardar Hussain reviews Queer Companions by Omar Kasmani, arguing that where Western cultural norms relegate gender queerness to the province of the secular, Kasmani’s ethnography of men, women, and genderqueer fakirs seeking closeness to a Pakistani saint suggest just the opposite. In Ozichi Okorom’s review of Feels Right by Kemi Adeyemi, the Black queer party scene of Chicago becomes a site of community building and affective innovation that push beyond the traditional loading of this work onto mere “good feelings.” Joseph L. Rojas, Jr. directs our attention to the LGBT+ community of Brazil—and the centrality of the trans community to it—in their review of Queering and Querying the Paradise of Paradox by Steven F. Butterman.
The final three reviews by Kerri Kilmer, Weston Richey, and Abigail Burns complete the latter half of our section’s focus on boundary-pushing with a turn to the digital. Kilmer’s review of Just Like Us by Caitlin E. Lawson examines the unique intersection of feminism, celebrity culture, and social media. Richey reviews Queer Silence by J. Logan Smilges, wherein Smilges counterintuitively argues that silence—and the disabled experience from which the queer community has long attempted to distance itself—holds unexpectedly radical liberatory potential. We conclude this section with Burns’s review of V. Jo Hsu’s Constellating Home, to honor our faculty member’s contribution to an intersectional analysis of Asian American and Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, and disabled experiences in search of finding a home.
All of the texts reviewed in our section likewise chart a history of searching within feminist and queer thought. How might we make new homes in a world where people of myriad intersecting marginalized identities can live free, full, and loving lives? From where have we come and to where might we go?