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Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    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 and filmmakers as Gish Jen, Julie Dash, June Jordon, James Joyce, Gloria Anzald%a, Neil Jordon, Virginia Woolf, Mira Nair, Zora Neale Hurston, E. M. Forster, and Irena Klepfisz.

    Defending the pioneering role of academic feminists in the knowledge revolution, this work draws on a wide variety of twentieth-century cultural expressions to address theoretical issues in postmodern feminism.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2257-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION Locational Feminism
    (pp. 3-14)

    Border talk is everywhere—literal and figural, material and symbolic. The “cartographies of silence” pioneered by feminists like Adrienne Rich in the 1970s have morphed into the spatial practices of third wave feminism as national boundaries and personal borders become ever more permeable in the face of rapidly changing cultural terrains and global landscapes. Borders have a way of insisting on separation at the same time as they acknowledge connection. Like bridges. Bridges signify the possibility of passing over. They also mark the fact of separation and the distance that has to be crossed. Borders between individuals, genders, groups, and...


    • CHAPTER 1 “Beyond” Gender: The New Geography of Identity and the Future of Feminist Criticism
      (pp. 17-35)

      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...

    • CHAPTER 2 “Beyond” White and Other: Narratives of Race in Feminist Discourse
      (pp. 36-66)

      The beating of Rodney King by four police officers and the violent aftermath of their acquittal in Los Angeles in April of 1992 underlines the explosive status of race and ethnicity in the United States in the 1990s. The videotape of the beating—played and replayed on television screens for months—captures the “black and white” of the beating in a double sense. It images metonymically the whiteness of the police and the blackness of Rodney King, the brutality of power and the powerlessness of victimization, and the binary of white/black as it has materialized in the history of European...

    • CHAPTER 3 “Beyond” Difference: Migratory Feminism in the Borderlands
      (pp. 67-104)

      That place-between-2-places, that walk-in-2-worlds: this is the space “beyond” difference that I want to explore for feminist theory and praxis. The “new patterns of relating across difference” that Audre Lorde called for in 1980 are still urgently needed as we cross the millennial border. For Lorde, angry with the exclusions built into the search so common in the 1970s for a universal sisterhood, those new patterns involved recognizing the creative possibilities embedded in difference. “How do we redefine difference for all women?” she asked. “It is not our differences which separate women, but our reluctance to recognize those differences” (Sister...


    • CHAPTER 4 Geopolitical Literacy: Internationalizing Feminism at “Home”—The Case of Virginia Woolf
      (pp. 107-131)

      Arguably the newest initiative in academic feminism involves what is referred to in shorthand as the “internationalization of women’s studies.” Following fast on the heels of feminist difference discourse, the imperative to “globalize feminism” has emerged out of the convergence of multiple historical conditions: the accelerating transnational flows of people, commerce, culture, and information; the rise of grass-roots feminist movements setting their own distinct agendas for change in many parts of the world; the global spread and growing institutional presence of women’s studies in research, higher education, and publishing; and the international movement to define basic human rights for girls...

    • CHAPTER 5 Telling Contacts: Intercultural Encounters and Narrative Poetics in the Borderlands between Literary Studies and Anthropology
      (pp. 132-150)

      So begins Nisa’s “once upon a time,” her formulaic opening of a story-to-come, her signal as storyteller to her listener that what follows is marked off and shaped as a separate entity that the “wind will take away” once her words are finished. So begins as well her reflection on the performance and passing of one of the many stories she tells to the North American anthropologist Marjorie Shostak, stories that constitute her life in the one-time gathering and hunting society of the !Kung as they subsist and face substantial change and possible annihilation in the Kalahari Desert of southern...

    • CHAPTER 6 “Routes/Roots”: Boundaries, Borderlands, and Geopolitical Narratives of Identity
      (pp. 151-178)

      Thinking geopolitically about identity is a “spatial practice,” to echo Michel de Certeau inThe Practice of Everyday Life. It involves maps and mapping, routes and routing, borders and bordercrossings. As a form of relational spatialization, however, it incorporates the opposing dimensions of the homonym routes/roots. Traveling is a concept that depends upon the notion of stasis to be comprehensible. Routes are pathways between here and there, two points of rootedness. Identity often requires some form of displacement—literal or figurative—to come to consciousness. Leaving home brings into being the idea of “home,” the perception of its identity as...


    • CHAPTER 7 Negotiating the Transatlantic Divide: Feminism after Poststructuralism
      (pp. 181-198)

      When I first wrote this chapter, we were on the cusp of the nineties, and I sense the winds of change circulating in the universities and colleges, as well the streets of the world—a longing for the nineties to be different, a looking ahead to the twenty-first century. The eighties, dominated in the United States by the Reagan presidency, bottled up the active commitment for social justice, marginalized those who refused to forget, and drove the wedge ever more deeply between those in the mainstream and society’s outsiders. Of course, there continued to be critical voices—engaged, political voices...

    • CHAPTER 8 Making History: Reflections on Feminism, Narrative, and Desire
      (pp. 199-227)

      My reflections begin with the contradictory desires within contemporary American feminism revolving around the question of history, particularly what is involved when feminists write histories of feminism. On the one hand, a pressing urgency to reclaim and hold on to a newly reconstituted history of women has fueled the development of the field of women’s history as well as the archaeological, archival, and oral history activities of feminists in other areas of women’s studies outside the discipline of history, inside and outside the academy. On the other hand, there has been a palpable anxiety within the feminist movement about the...

    • CHAPTER 9 Craving Stories: Narrative and Lyric in Feminist Theory and Poetic Practice
      (pp. 228-242)

      The necessity of narrative—indeed the hunger for it—evident in these epigraphs resonates with the work of narrative theorists such as Robert Caserio and Peter Brooks, both of whom identify narrative as an essential mode of understanding reality. But curiously, their insistence on narrative is out of tune with the views of a number of poststructuralist theorists such as Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, and Hélène Cixous as well as those whom they have influenced. These theorists have variously suggested that what they loosely call “poetry,” the “poetic,” or the “lyric” is the avant-garde of modernity’s disruptions of the symbolic...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 243-280)
    (pp. 281-302)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 303-314)