Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

A Critical Introduction to Feminist Cultural Production

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

A Critical Introduction to Feminist Cultural Production

Article excerpt

There's only two or three things [we] know for sure.

The title of this issue of RFR/DRF, "Feminist Cultural Production: Critical Debates and Practices," suggests that both "debates" and "practices" are central to what constitutes "feminist cultural production." The articles critically debate practices of feminist cultural production and contribute to feminist dilemmas arising from cultural practices. A growing concern for both the symbolic and material importance of cultural representations suggests a need for attention to the histories, methodologies, and strategies underlying feminist cultural production. When we began working on this issue, we designed a call for papers that would solicit work from cultural producers, understood broadly as artists / teachers / activists / academics. We envisaged a wide range of problematics, linked by an attention to criticality; to describing, deciphering, and deconstructing contexts and conditions of cultural practice; and to uncovering new forms and territories of feminist cultural theory.

What is evident in the multiplicity of concerns and approaches in this collection is an engagement with dilemmas of "feminist" and "cultural production." This is a productive and invigorating tension that is reflected in the title of the issue. In the introduction to their edited collection, Feminist Poststructural Theory and Methods in Education (2000), Elizabeth A. St. Pierre and Wanda S. Pillow suggest that the book chapters work with a question about the relationship of feminism and poststructuralism: " 'How are they beside each other?' " (p. 2). Similarly, in this issue of RFR/DRF, the articles ask how "feminist" and "cultural production" are beside each other and how "debates" and "practices" are beside each other and beside "feminist cultural production."

"Feminist" and "Cultural Production": What? How? When? Where?

We envisioned and worked towards an issue that would contest and confound assumptions about cultural production and that would, in fact, develop a flexible and unfixed vision of what constitutes cultural production. This collection of articles produces such a moment of problematization. The issue offers analyses of a range of cultural forms and practices across many conceptual and theoretical frameworks. Given this notion of contestation about what constitutes "cultural production," and when, where, and how it may be brought into being, the idea of "feminist" is produced correspondingly as a term debated rather than assumed. The articles invoke an understanding of "feminist" that references multiple practices, theories, histories, activisms, politics, and relations that engage with questions of power and difference. Many feminist scholars working in cultural studies underline the importance of understanding "feminism" as a term of contingency, and they emphasize the strengths and possibilities that inhere in the contestation and debate of the term (Butler, 1992; McRobbie, 1994).

We hope that this issue of RFR/DRF will contribute to academic discourses about feminist cultural production by reconfiguring the terms and the field and by raising new questions for future engagements. Thus, with regard to the relationship of this collection of articles to future developments in feminist cultural production, we might begin a set of questions that problematizes how knowledge is produced through our organization of the issue and through the particular articles therein. How does this issue of RFR/DRF participate in shaping what constitutes "feminist"? How does it shape "cultural production"? How do notions of "feminist" and "cultural production" inform each other through the articles? What are the implications for developments in research and scholarly writing about feminist cultural production?

Multiple Approaches

Questions of epistemology are threaded throughout this issue: all of the papers ask questions about how knowledge is organized to shape the issues and practices of feminist cultural production. …

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