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Transnational Feminism in the United States

Knowledge, Ethics, and Power

Leela Fernandes

Publication Year: 2013

The acceleration of economic globalization and the rapid global flows of people, cultural goods, and information have intensified the importance of developing transnational understandings of contemporary issues. Transnational feminist perspectives have provided a unique outlook on women’s lives and have deepened our understanding of the gendered nature of global processes. Transnational Feminism in the United States examines how transnational perspectives shape the ways in which we produce, consume, and disseminate knowledge about the world within the United States, and how the paradigm of transnational feminism is affected in nuanced ways by national narratives and public discourses within the country itself.
An innovative theoretical project that is both deconstructive and constructive, this bookinterrogates the limits of feminist thought, primarily through case studies that illustrate its power to create entirely new fields of research out of traditionally interdisciplinary lines of inquiry. Leela Fernandes discusses ways to approach, analyze, and capture processes that exceed and unsettle the nation-state within the transnational feminist paradigm. Examining the links between power and knowledge that bind interdisciplinary theory and research, she shines new light on issues such as human rights and the United States war on terror as well as academic debates about transnational feminist perspectives on global issues. A commanding and thought-provoking analysis, Transnational Feminism in the United States powerfully contributes to central debates in the field of Women’s Studies and related cross-disciplinary scholarship on feminist theory and gender from a global perspective.
Leela Fernandes is Professor of Women’s Studies and Political Science at the University of Michigan, and author of India’s New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic ReformProducing Workers: The Politics of Gender, Class and Culture in the Calcutta Jute Mills; and Transforming Feminist Practice

Published by: NYU Press

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-9

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pp. ix-x

THE IDEAS THAT have shaped this book have germinated over a long period of time and through the course of interacting with many students and colleagues. Many of the issues that I grapple with here are ones I have wrestled with as I have developed interdisciplinary courses and curricula at both the undergraduate and the graduate level at the various institutions I ...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-31

WHILE SIFTING THROUGH the mass of e-mails that accumulate at the beginning of a new academic year, I was struck by the subject heading of one message. The message line exclaimed, “Saudi Women Drive! NEW at Ms. in the Classroom.” Upon opening the message, I found a generic informational advertisement recommending the use of a digital version of...

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2. U.S. State Practices and the Rhetoric of Human Rights

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pp. 32-60

ON JANUARY 13, 2009, during the course of Hillary Clinton’s Senate confirmation hearings for secretary of state for the newly inaugurated Obama administration, Senator Barbara Boxer began her questioning by holding up large, blown-up photographs of Pakistani women who were the victims of an acid attack. Boxer’s intention, as revealed in her exchange ...

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3. Transnational Economies of Representation and the Labor of the Traveling Subaltern

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pp. 61-101

ONE OF THE central features of contemporary globalization has been the transnational circulation of cultural products. Various forms of cultural representation (film, media images, literature, television programs) now move rapidly across borders. These forms of cultural circulation are no longer reducible to clear-cut geopolitical forms of movement...

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4. Regimes of Visibility and Transnational Feminist Knowledge

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pp. 102-135

THE STUDY OF transnational feminism is a historically specific paradigm that has emerged in response to the intensification of transnational flows associated with the contemporary epoch of globalization. The study of transnational feminism specifically arose in response to a growing emphasis on the limits of territorially bound nation-states in a range of...

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5. Institutional Practice and the Field of Women’s Studies

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pp. 136-167

IN 2001, I was asked to co-convene a session at a national conference that brought together representatives of institutions that had launched autonomous PhD programs in the field of women’s studies. In my remarks at that session, I suggested that if women’s studies departments were planning to train students doing graduate-level work on international questions, these ...

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6. Race, Transnational Feminism, and Paradigms of Difference

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pp. 168-189

ONE OF THE key features of the paradigm of transnational feminism is that it has emerged within and is shaped in central ways by models of multicultural education that are specific to the context of the United States. A central underlying challenge in the institutionalization of transnational approaches within the field of women’s studies thus lies with the way in ...

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7. Afterword: The Moment of Transnational Feminism in the United States

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pp. 190-197

THE ESSAYS IN this book have examined the implications that transnational perspectives have for the way in which we make sense of a complex and deeply interconnected world. The paradigm of transnational feminism provides a critical case study for such reflection both because transnational perspectives have sought to capture contemporary global phenomena that ...


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pp. 199-218


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pp. 219-234


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pp. 235-245

About the Author

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pp. 246-257

E-ISBN-13: 9780814762998
E-ISBN-10: 0814760961
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814760963
Print-ISBN-10: 0814760961

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013