Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter

Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter

Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter

Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter

Synopsis

In this powerful work, Susan Friedman moves feminist theory out of paralyzing debates about us and them, white and other, first and third world, and victimizers and victims. Throughout, Friedman adapts current cultural theory from global and transnational studies, anthropology, and geography to challenge modes of thought that exaggerate the boundaries of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and national origin. The author promotes a transnational and heterogeneous feminism, which, she maintains, can replace the proliferation of feminisms based on difference. She argues for a feminist geopolitical literacy that goes beyond fundamentalist identity politics and absolutist poststructuralist theory, and she continually focuses the reader's attention on those locations where differences are negotiated and transformed.

Pervading the book is a concern with narrative: the way stories and cultural narratives serve as a primary mode of thinking about the politically explosive question of identity. Drawing freely on modernist novels, contemporary film, popular fiction, poetry, and mass media, the work features narratives of such writers a

Excerpt

I BEGIN this book of feminist mappings with a metacritical excursion, a series of reflections on gender and identity, on where we have been and where we are going, especially as we head past the millennial divide into the twentieth-first century. By “we,” I am speaking most directly of and to the collectivity of academic feminists who make up the divergent and polyvocal feminisms of higher education. But I also mean to include by implication the larger collectivity of the progressively minded whose intellectual projects and political commitments parallel and intermingle with those of academic feminists. I am also much aware that the collectivity of differences gathered in such a “we” contains a sometimes difficult mix of different intellectual generations—from those who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s (like myself), on through those who emerged in the 1980s and early 1990s, to those who are graduate students today, necessarily building upon the evolving work of their elders, but eager to move on and beyond prior questions, frameworks, and paradigms. “We” includes the graduate students and new assistant professors who are expected to know all the transformations in literary and cultural studies of the past thirty years at the same time that they hone the newest cutting edges of knowledge. It also includes the older generations who, having experienced and contributed greatly to these transformations, must try to make themselves anew, to keep up with the ever-changing terrains. Some days, there seems to be no rest for the weary—the anxious graduate student, the burnedout professor. But other days, the new geographies of literary studies provide ever-expanding horizons for travel and growth.

It is in this spirit of a multidimensional “we” that I make the argument that the future of academic feminism involves moving beyond gender, involves, to be more precise, recognizing and intensifying shifts that have already begun taking place in part because of what I am calling the new geographics of identity. Such movement “beyond” gender is unsettling, if not dangerous. After all, it has been the pioneering breakthrough of academic feminism to establish gender as a legitimate framework for intellectual inquiry. This achievement did not come easily, and more to the point, the existence of this new field is under constant threat of erasure or marginalization in an academy beset by institutional downsizing and attacks from without. Nonetheless, the shift beyond the strongly privileged focus on gender is well underway, producing major theoretical and pedagogical breakthroughs of its own. New positional, locational, spatial—that is, geographical— concepts of identity have fostered this evolution in academic feminism. In . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.