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Muddying the Waters

Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms across Scholarship and Activism

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Muddying the Waters
    Book Description:

    In Muddying the Waters , Richa Nagar uses stories, encounters, and anecdotes as well as methodological reflections, to grapple with the complexity of working through solidarities, responsibility, and ethics while involved in politically engaged scholarship. Experiences that range from the streets of Dar es Salaaam to farms and development offices in North India inform discussion of the labor and politics of co-authorship, translation and genre blending in research and writing that cross multiple--and often difficult--borders, Nagar links the implicit assumptions, issues, and questions involved with scholarship and political action, and explores the epistemological risks and possibilities of creative research that brings these into intimate dialogue. Daringly self-conscious, Muddying the Waters reveals a politically engaged research and writer working to become "radically vulnerable," and on the ways a focus on such radical vulnerability could allow a re-imagining of collaboration that opens new avenues to collective dreaming and laboring across sociopolitical, geographical, linguistic, and institutional borders.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09675-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. Introducing Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms across Scholarship and Activism
    (pp. 1-22)

    Muddying the Watersis about ever-evolving journeys that confront and embrace the messiness of solidarity and responsibility. In describing and analyzing these journeys—frequently through stories, encounters, and anecdotes—this book aims to both separate and intimately link the question of scholarship with that of political action. These chapters—based on essays written between 1994 and 2013, often with coauthors, collectives, co-artists, and comrades—engage this relationship without claiming the label of activist scholarship, and without invoking categories such as transnational, postcolonial, or women-of-color feminisms as pure bodies of thought that can help us sort through the challenges posed by...

  5. 1. Translated Fragments, Fragmented Translations
    (pp. 23-49)

    If the politics of alliance making are about making oneself radically vulnerable through trust and critical reflexivity, if they require us to open ourselves to being interrogated and assessed by those to whom we must be accountable, then such politics are also about acknowledging, recognizing, and sharing our most tender and fragile moments, our memories and mistakes in moments of translation, in moments of love. For, it is in the acknowledgment, recognition, and sharing of these moments, memories, and mistakes that we live our trust and faith, and where we often encounter our deepest courage and insights. It is also...

  6. 2. Dar es Salaam: Making Peace with an Abandoned “Field”
    (pp. 50-80)

    It all began in Dar es Salaam. The place I learned to love through stories of countless journeys. The place that entangled me forever with questions of expertise and knowledge making; of positionality and responsibility; of memories that haunt; and of promises that remained unfulfilled. Dar is the place where I first set foot in 1991 and to which I could not physically return after the completion of my dissertation fieldwork in 1993.

    The reasons behind my initial immersion in Dar es Salaam had as much to do with the excitement generated by debates in postcolonial theory, African studies, and...

  7. 3. Reflexivity, Positionality, and Languages of Collaboration in Feminist Fieldwork
    (pp. 81-104)

    Part 1 of this chapter is an abridged and revised version of a longer piece originally written with susan geiger between 1997 and 2001. The original piece was circulated widely in a conference paper format. it was first published in revised and condensed form in 2007, six years after susan’s death.

    When two major journals in feminist studies rejected the original piece authored with geiger, I continued my attempts to share our argument in feminist and critical geography venues. Part 2 of this chapter is a revised version of an article that first emerged in 2001–2 from one such effort;...

  8. 4. Representation, Accountability, and Collaborative Border Crossings: Moving Beyond Positionality
    (pp. 105-123)

    This chapter is a revised version of an article originally written in 2002–3 in consultation with Farah ali and what we then called the sangtin samooh, or the sangtin women’s collective. The border crossings discussed here must be read in the context of the sociopolitical events unfolding in india and the united states between 2001 and 2003.

    In fall 2002, Ellen Messer-Davidow, professor of English and comparative studies in discourse and society at Minnesota, gave a talk in my department. She cited an incident where Donna Shalala, the former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, maintained that academic...

  9. 5. Traveling and Crossing, Dreaming and Becoming: Journeys after Sangtin Yatra
    (pp. 124-157)

    `This chapter is based on writing undertaken with Richa Singh, Surbala, and other saathis of Sangtin Kisaan Mazdoor Sangathan in hindi and English between 2004 and 2012.

    These thoughts, first written in Hindi by Richa Singh in April 2005, point to a personal and collective turmoil with questions of inequality and the im/possibility of women from unequal locations to speak in a unified voice.¹ Reflecting on her own recently completed (paid) air travel to a conference in Mumbai, and her return to a village in Sitapur on athelia, Richa Singh wrestles with the question of how there can be...

  10. 6. Four Truths of Storytelling and Coauthorship in Feminist Alliance Work
    (pp. 158-182)

    Purva Naresh’s playOk, Tata, Bye-Byeprovides a good starting point for this discussion of storytelling and coauthorship in feminist alliance work. InOk, Tata, Bye-Bye, Naresh (2012) fictionalizes her own struggles as a documentary filmmaker, specifically in relation to a project that she carried out in an impoverished community alongside a highway between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. This community depended for its survival on truckers who stopped in their village for food, petrol, and sex. Girls born in the village were taught that they were not to be married, for they were born for sex work and to become...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 183-190)
  12. Glossary
    (pp. 191-194)
  13. References
    (pp. 195-204)
  14. Index
    (pp. 205-218)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-222)