Academic journal article Anarchist Studies

Emma Goldman: Political Thinking in the Streets

Academic journal article Anarchist Studies

Emma Goldman: Political Thinking in the Streets

Article excerpt

Kathy Ferguson, Emma Goldman: Political Thinking in the Streets

Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011, 352pp. ISBN 978-0742523005

Despite die fact that Emma Goldman was a prolific writer and is today perhaps one of the most well-known anarchists of her time, few authors have undertaken theoretical engagements with her work; rather, many authors have been 'dismissive of [Goldman's] theorizing ... claiming that she was more of an activist than a dieorist' and have emphasized biographical information over her thought (p.4). This is one reason that Kathy Ferguson's book is such a valuable contribution to Goldman scholarship. By '[encountering] and [assessing] Emma Goldman as apolitical diinker' Ferguson specifically focuses on Goldman's anarchism, affirming the value of Goldman's work as theory whde simultaneously troubling the theory-practice distinction itself. In troubling this dichotomy - a distinction which, as Ferguson argues, Goldman's political thought invites us to look beyond - Ferguson's book conceptualizes both theory and practice in refreshing and fruitful ways (p.6).

Though Ferguson emphasizes Goldman's relationship with anarchist thought and practice, her book spans a very wide range of themes. It includes chapters on the discourses positioning Goldman as 'dangerous' and her engagement with them, Goldman's contributions to feminist thought and role in feminist struggles, and the criticisms that authors have made regarding Goldman's apparent Overlooking or neglecting [of] race' in her analysis (p.21 1). The work engages with a wide variety of theorists, including Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu and Gilles Deleuze, to offer a multi-faceted and nuanced reading of Goldman's life and work. While Goldman's political thought is the focus of the text, it also offers rich descriptions of historical and autobiographical details, considering them in die wider context of anarchism in Goldman's time. …

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