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Emigre Feminism

Emigre Feminism: Transnational Perspectives

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Emigre Feminism
    Book Description:

    Thirteen essays bring together the views of expatriate, exiled and émigré feminists from various parts of the world and explore themes of exile, home, displacement and the practice of feminism across national boundaries.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7436-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. 1 Émigré Feminism: An Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    This book explores various aspects of the cross-cultural conveyance and translation of feminist ideas and practices as these are mediated by exiles, émigrés, and/or expatriates. Emigrants frequently move with equal facility among several perspectives, seeing each one simultaneously from within and from without, seeking to make visible to each culture and political tradition both its own preconceptions and those of others. This enables émigrés to adopt liminal and multiple perspectives, defying a single world-view. Caught between different systems of values, beliefs, languages, discourses, and identities, émigrés who are feminists can develop a distinct capacity to translate feminist ideas and practices...

  6. 2 Choosing Feminism, Choosing Exile: Towards the Development of a Transnational Feminist Consciousness
    (pp. 17-29)

    Coded in personal terms, the title of this essay contains a mini-narrative of my life as a feminist and a migrant, and it can be read as the shortest autobiographical statement of a ‘femigrant.’ Like many other Poles in the 1980s, I became an internal exile before actually leaving Poland. My narrative was not exactly one of political or economic migration, although both these factors undoubtedly played a role in my decision to emigrate. Ten years ago, I did not have the language or the conceptual apparatus of feminism to identify what I had found most oppressive in my life...

  7. 3 Afastada Apprehensions: The Politics of Post-exile Location and South Africa’s Gendered Transition
    (pp. 30-66)

    In early 1993 I took up a short-term fellowship at the University of Natal, South Africa, my alma mater of some twenty years before, to investigate women and gender in the discourses of political transition. There was an exciting immediacy to this topic at that time of interregnum between the apartheid regime and the promised ‘democratic, non-racial, non-sexist South Africa.’ The multiparty negotiations were the focus of national political energies. The talks were charged with setting up a transitional government and procedures for overseeing the first democratic elections, in April 1994, and with establishing the basic ethico-political principles that would...

  8. 4 Transnational Links in the Making of Latin American Feminisms: A View from the Margins
    (pp. 67-94)

    The recent transitions to civilian regimes in Latin America have led to important transformations in local feminisms. Commitments that once fuelled massive public demonstrations by women, for example, in protests against human rights violations, in commemorations of International Women’s Day, and in actions of defiance by organized grass-roots women, are increasingly being traded in for pragmatic forms of collaboration with the new, civilian governments. Indeed, a new convergence appears to have emerged in countries like Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, between many formerly oppositional practices and legacies of women’s movements and those state practices intent on shaping ‘modern’ neo-liberal democracies. In...

  9. 5 Feminist Discourse on Central and Eastern Europe: Hungarian Women’s Groups in the Early 1990s as a Case Study
    (pp. 95-114)

    I was born and raised in Hungary and emigrated to Canada in 1982. I remember once in my high school in Budapest we had to fill out a statistical form that included our parents’ occupations. The girl sitting next to me did not know what to put down as her mother’s occupation, because her mother did not work outside the home. The teacher told her to put down ‘housewife.’ I was puzzled by why Martha’s mother had to stay home. All the adult women I knew at that time had an occupation. Only older women stayed at home, but they...

  10. 6 The Multiple Locations of a Czech Émigré Feminist: A Biographical Perspective
    (pp. 115-130)

    The main objectives of this essay are to (1) use the contours of my personal and intellectual biography as a Czech-born, British-trained, Canadian feminist scholar to reinterpret my ‘home’ and ‘adopted’ countries’ experiences and understanding of gender relations and feminism and (2) explore issues of ‘representation,’ ‘voice appropriation,’ and the impact of different geographical and political locations on the production and reception of knowledge.

    I was born in 1950 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where I lived until 1968. When the Warsaw Pact armies invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968, I was vacationing in England. Fearing Soviet oppression and the resurgence of antisemitism,...

  11. 7 Catalyst, Nature, and Vitality of African-Canadian Feminism: A Panorama of an Émigré Feminist
    (pp. 131-148)

    Writing about my self, my consciousness, my history; subjecting my thoughts, my work, my words, activities, and lived experiences to self-reflection for public consumption has been one of the biggest challenges of my life. Here I am, given a discursive space but wishing it had not been given. The procrastination has proved one thing to me–the depth of my fears of self-exposure, even when I am given a friendly discursive space. This is a rare opportunity. Right now, I am being transformed into a subject of history who is at the same time an object of my own knowledge! This...

  12. 8 There Is No Place Like Home: Caribbean Women’s Feminism in Canada
    (pp. 149-172)

    These are the words of two of forty-five Caribbean women whom I heard repeatedly attribute their strength and survival to childhood socialization and community.³ Although diverse (racially and by class and country of origin), the Caribbean women I interviewed are nearly all community activists. Most have been either paid or voluntary community workers during some or all of their residency in Canada, which has varied from twenty to thirty years. They reflect the multiracial, multicultural mix of the Caribbean: Aboriginal, African, Chinese, Indian, European, Portuguese, Syrian/Lebanese, and various combinations of these. In response to the question, How did you survive?,...

  13. 9 Coming to Terms with Hijab in Canada and Turkey: Agonies of a Secular and Anti-orientalist Émigré Feminist
    (pp. 173-188)

    In the past decade or two we have seen the development of new veiling among some Muslim women in several countries. This has involved the adoption, usually by younger women, of various forms of head cover. What has made these forms of veiling ‘new’ and different from traditional veiling has been the fact that those who adopted various forms ofhijabhave often been young women, whose mothers had in most cases adopted western dress. These women typically state that they adopt this form of dress out of their own free will and often against the wishes of parents and...

  14. 10 Émigré Iranian Feminism and the Construction of Muslim Woman
    (pp. 189-207)

    The rise of Islamic fundamentalists to power in Iran made women the main target of the Islamic onslaught and the main contender against its project to turn Iran into an Islamic stronghold. The formidable resistance of women, starting with the massive anti-veil protests immediately after the revolution, has continued in hundreds of intriguing, creative ways, targetting the regime’s re-Islamization project and the restrictions placed on women’s public life. Women’s resistance imposed certain compromises on the Islamic state and shaped developments in the state’s gender politics. But the formidable power of the Islamists and their remarkable success in silencing open opposition...

  15. 11 My Journey as a Woman across Continents
    (pp. 208-218)

    As a novelist and essayist, I agonized over what to write for this book. Yes, I was once an academic, and my doctorate has not expired, but I no longer read much in the social sciences, except when I have to at my part-time job as an associate editor for a psychiatry journal. I am no longer up to date on the latest debates in feminist theory or cultural criticism. This does not mean that I have stopped thinking or that I have suddenly become hopelessly ignorant. On the contrary, I read more and more widely than I ever did...

  16. 12 Transnational Subjectivities: Travelling to Greece with Karen Connelly
    (pp. 219-251)

    Only a study at once theoretical and localized can address the paradoxes inherent in transnational feminist practices. Frequently employed as a concept offsetting the abstracting and universalizing tendencies of such discourses as those of feminism and postcolonialism, transnationalism has recently achieved considerable currency. Yet the term as I understand it remains perilously close to globalism, the very condition it seeks to challenge, or, at best, it exacerbates the political ambivalence characteristic of global formations. Iftranssignifies a gesturebeyonda given field, transnationalism can function easily as a figurative substitute for globalism, suggesting a movement beyond certain specificities and...

  17. 13 Western Feminism? Problems of Categorizing Women’s Movements in Cross-national Research
    (pp. 252-266)

    The relative merits and dangers of postmodernism have been subject to much debate within feminist discourse. There has been debate over the pitfalls of relativism, idealism, abandonment of theory, agency, and action. Yet there has also been a reluctance to completely reject postmodern lines of inquiry. For all the problems involved, it is generally (albeit sometimes reluctantly) acknowledged that feminism can benefit from an accommodation of some aspects of postmodernism.

    This benefit is perhaps the most discernible in reinforcing the feminist tendency to problematize the general category of ‘woman.’ I would like to emphasize that this insight is not unique...

  18. 14 Antipodean Feminisms
    (pp. 267-294)

    In her introduction to an Australian international forum (and edited monograph) on feminism and poststructuralism in cross-cultural studies, Susan Sheridan (1988:1) characterized ‘antipodean feminism’ as an inherently creative form of feminism that receives and transforms theories and practices elaborated elsewhere: ‘Australian feminism has always provided fertile ground for the transplantation of “international” (U.S. and U.K., and lately, French) feminisms, has certain indigenous features, notable among them being its capacity to graft those others on to its own growth and at times to produce new species. Antipodean feminism may be imaged, as the Australian novelist Christina Stead represented the continent itselt,...

  19. Index
    (pp. 295-333)