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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality > Gender Studies

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Critical Trauma Studies

Understanding Violence, Conflict and Memory in Everyday Life

Monica J. Casper

Trauma is a universal human experience. While each person responds differently to trauma, its presence in our lives nonetheless marks a continual thread through human history and prehistory. In Critical Trauma Studies, a diverse group of writers, activists, and scholars of sociology, anthropology, literature, and cultural studies reflects on the study of trauma and how multidisciplinary approaches lend richness and a sense of deeper understanding to this burgeoning field of inquiry. The original essays within this collection cover topics such as female suicide bombers from the Chechen Republic, singing prisoners in Iranian prison camps, sexual assault and survivor advocacy, and families facing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. As it proceeds, Critical Trauma Studies never loses sight of the way those who study trauma as an academic field, and those who experience, narrate, and remediate trauma as a personal and embodied event, inform one another. Theoretically adventurous and deeply particular, this book aims to advance trauma studies as a discipline that transcends intellectual boundaries, to be mapped but also to be unmoored from conceptual and practical imperatives. Remaining embedded in lived experiences and material realities, Critical Trauma Studies frames the field as both richly unbounded and yet clearly defined, historical, and evidence-based.

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The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration

Gender, Race, and Media

Leah Perry

In the 1980s, amid increasing immigration from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia, the circle of who was considered American seemed to broaden, reflecting the democratic gains made by racial minorities and women. Although this expanded circle was increasingly visible in the daily lives of Americans through TV shows, films, and popular news media, these gains were circumscribed by the discourse that certain immigrants, for instance single and working mothers, were feared, censured, or welcomed exclusively as laborers.               

In The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration, Leah Perry argues that 1980s immigration discourse in law and popular media was a crucial ingredient in the cohesion of the neoliberal idea of democracy. Blending critical legal analysis with a feminist media studies methodology over a range of sources, including legal documents, congressional debates, and popular media, such as Golden Girls, Who’s the Boss?, Scarface, and Mi Vida Loca, Perry shows how even while “multicultural” immigrants were embraced, they were at the same time disciplined through gendered discourses of respectability. Examining the relationship between law and culture, this book weaves questions of legal status and gender into existing discussions about race and ethnicity to revise our understanding of both neoliberalism and immigration.

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Currency of Desire

Libidinal Economy, Psychoanalysis and Sexual Revolution

by David Bennett

The language of money has informed medical, psychological and political theories of sexual desire for at least 300 years. Desire, figured as libidinal energy, represented potential work-power and spending-power and hence a form of personal ‘capital’, an economic resource for both the individual and the collectivity. This book explores how this view of desire – formalised by Freud as ‘the economics of the libido’ – has shaped understandings of a sex-money nexus across disciplines and across genres. It investigates how changing psychological, commercial and political prescriptions for the ‘saving’, ‘investing’ or ‘spending’ of desire have related to developments in economic theory proper. It examines, among other things, the tensions between classical political economy’s ‘producer ethic’ and the ‘consumer ethic’, Keynesianism’s doctrine of economic health through spending rather than saving, communism’s replacement of a market economy with a command economy, and neoliberalism’s faith in the deregulated market as the paradigm of a free society. The book argues that any understanding of ‘the libidinal economy’ must take account of history. It shows that the business of eroticising the economy has a historical reach with thinkers as disparate as Mandeville, Tissot, Fourier, Parent-Duchâtelet, Marx, Freud, Gandhi, Reich, Marcuse and Dichter making contributions; it explores the way discourses of desire have shaped understandings of the sex-money nexus during three centuries of medical, psychological, political and erotic writing on topics ranging from onanism to advertising, psychoanalysis to shopping, prostitution to revolutionary politics.

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Czech Feminisms

Perspectives on Gender in East Central Europe

Edited by Iveta Jusová and Jiina Šiklová

In this wide-ranging study of women’s and gender issues in the pre- and post-1989 Czech Republic, contributors engage with current feminist debates and theories of nation and identity to examine the historical and cultural transformations of Czech feminism. This collection of essays by leading scholars, artists, and activists, explores such topics as reproductive rights, state socialist welfare provisions, Czech women’s NGOs, anarchofeminism, human trafficking, LGBT politics, masculinity, feminist art, among others. Foregrounding experiences of women and sexual and ethnic minorities in the Czech Republic, the contributors raise important questions about the transfer of feminist concepts across languages and cultures. As the economic orthodoxy of the European Union threatens to occlude relevant stories of the different national communities comprising the Eurozone, this book contributes to the understanding of the diverse origins from which something like a European community arises.

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Dancing from the Heart

Movement, Gender, and Sociality in the Cook Islands

Kalissa Alexeyeff

Dancing from the Heart is the first study of gender, globalization, and expressive culture in the Cook Islands. It demonstrates how dance in particular plays a key role in articulating the overlapping local, regional, and transnational agendas of Cook Islanders. Kalissa Alexeyeff reconfigures conventional views of globalization’s impact on indigenous communities, moving beyond diagnoses of cultural erosion and contamination to a grounded exploration of creative agency and vital cultural production. Central to the study is a rich and textured ethnographic account of contemporary Cook Islands dance practice. Based on fieldwork, in-depth interviews, and archival research, it offers an engrossing analysis of how Cook Islands social life is generated through expressive practices. Dance is explored in a variety of settings, including beauty pageants, tourist venues, nightclubs and community celebrations at home and within Cook Islands communities abroad. Contemporary Cook Islands dance practices are also shaped by competing ideas about the past. Debates about precolonial traditions, missionization, and colonialism pervade discussions about dance and expressive culture. Alexeyeff shows how the politics of tradition reflect the competing moral, political, personal, and economic practices of postcolonial Cook Islanders. Throughout the work the stories and voices of individuals are brought to the fore. Their views are juxtaposed with scholarship on tradition, modernity, and social dynamics. Engaging and accessible, Dancing from the Heart illuminates specific and intimate aspects of Cook Islands social life while, at the same time, addressing fundamental questions within anthropology and indigenous, performance, and postcolonial studies.

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Dancing Tango

Passionate Encounters in a Globalizing World

Argentinean tango is a global phenomenon. Since its origin among immigrants from the slums of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, it has crossed and re-crossed many borders.Yet, never before has tango been danced by so many people and in so many different places as today. Argentinean tango is more than a specific music and style of dancing. It is also a cultural imaginary which embodies intense passion, hyper-heterosexuality, and dangerous exoticism. In the wake of its latest revival, tango has become both a cultural symbol of Argentinean national identity and a transnational cultural space in which a modest, yet growing number of dancers from different parts of the globe meet on the dance floor.
 
Through interviews and ethnographical research in Amsterdam and Buenos Aires, Kathy Davis shows why a dance from another era and another place appeals to men and women from different parts of the world and what happens to them as they become caught up in the tango salon culture. She shows how they negotiate the ambivalences, contradictions, and hierarchies of gender, sexuality, and global relations of power between North and South in which Argentinean tango is – and has always been – embroiled.
 
Davis also explores her uneasiness about her own passion for a dance which – when seen through the lens of contemporary critical feminist and postcolonial theories – seems, at best, odd, and, at worst, disreputable and even a bit shameful. She uses the disjuncture between the incorrect pleasures and complicated politics of dancing tango as a resource for exploring the workings of passion as experience, as performance, and as cultural discourse. She concludes that dancing tango should be viewed less as a love/hate embrace with colonial overtones than a passionate encounter across many different borders between dancers who share a desire for difference and a taste of the ‘elsewhere.’Dancing Tango is a vivid, intriguing account of an important global cultural phenomenon.

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Dancing with Ghosts

A Critical Biography of Arturo Islas

Frederick Aldama

This first critical biography of Arturo Islas (1938­1991) brings to life the complex and overlapping worlds inhabited by the gay Chicano poet, novelist, scholar, and professor. Gracefully written and deeply researched, Dancing with Ghosts considers both the larger questions of Islas's life—his sexuality, racial identification, and political personality—and the events of his everyday existence, from his childhood in the borderlands of El Paso to his adulthood in San Francisco and at Stanford University. Frederick Aldama portrays the many facets of Islas's engaging and often contradictory personality. He also explores Islas's coming into the craft of poetry and fiction—his extraordinary struggle to publish his novels, The Rain God, La Mollie and the King of Tears, and Migrant Souls—as well as his pivotal role in paving the way for a new generation of Chicano/a scholars and writers.

Through a skillful interweaving of life history, criticism, and literary theory, Aldama paints an unusually rich and wide-ranging portrait of both the man and the eventful times in which he lived. He describes Islas's struggle with polio as a child, his near-death experience and ileostomy as a thirty-year-old beginning to explore his queer sexuality in San Francisco in the 1970s, and his fatal struggle with AIDS in the late 1980s. Drawing from hundreds of unpublished letters, lecture notes, drafts of essays, novels, and poetry archived at Stanford University, Aldama also deals frankly with the controversies that swirled around Islas's impassioned love life, his drug addictions, and his scholarly and professional career as one of the first Chicano/a professors in the United States. He discusses the importance of Islas's pioneering role in bridging Anglo, Latin American, Chicano/a, and European storytelling styles and voices. Dancing with Ghosts succeeds brilliantly both as an account of a fascinating life that embraced many different worlds and as a chronicle of the grand historical shifts that transformed the late-twentieth-century American cultural landscape.

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Dangerous Gifts

Gender and Exchange in Ancient Greece

By Deborah Lyons

Inspired by anthropological writing on reciprocity and kinship, this book applies the idea of gendered wealth to ancient Greek myth for the first time, and also highlights the importance of the sister-brother bond in the Classical world.

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Daughters of the Mountain

Women Coal Miners in Central Appalachia

Suzanne E. Tallichet

Much has been written over the years about life in the coal mines of Appalachia. Not surprisingly, attention has focused mainly on the experiences of male miners. In Daughters of the Mountain, Suzanne Tallichet introduces us to a cohort of women miners at a large underground coal mine in southern West Virginia, where women entered the workforce in the late 1970s after mining jobs began opening up for women throughout the Appalachian coalfields.Tallichet's work goes beyond anecdotal evidence to provide complex and penetrating analyses of qualitative data. Based on in-depth interviews with female miners, Tallichet explores several key topics, including social relations among men and women, professional advancement, and union participation. She also explores the ways in which women adapt to mining culture, developing strategies for both resistance and accommodation to an overwhelmingly male-dominated world.

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Death beyond Disavowal

The Impossible Politics of Difference

Grace Kyungwon Hong

Death beyond Disavowal utilizes “difference” as theorized by women of color feminists to analyze works of cultural production by people of color as expressing a powerful antidote to the erasures of contemporary neoliberalism.

According to Grace Kyungwon Hong, neoliberalism is first and foremost a structure of disavowal enacted as a reaction to the successes of the movements for decolonization, desegregation, and liberation of the post–World War II era. It emphasizes the selective and uneven affirmation and incorporation of subjects and ideas that were formerly categorically marginalized, particularly through invitation into reproductive respectability. It does so in order to suggest that racial, gendered, and sexualized violence and inequity are conditions of the past, rather than the foundations of contemporary neoliberalism’s exacerbation of premature death. Neoliberal ideologies hold out the promise of protection from premature death in exchange for complicity with this pretense.

In Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, Cherríe Moraga’s The Last Generation and Waiting in the Wings, Oscar Zeta Acosta’s The Revolt of the Cockroach People, Ana Castillo’s So Far from God, Gayl Jones’s Corregidora, Isaac Julien’s Looking for Langston, Inge Blackman’s B. D. Women, Rodney Evans’s Brother to Brother, and the work of the late Barbara Christian, Death beyond Disavowal finds the memories of death and precarity that neoliberal ideologies attempt to erase.

Hong posits cultural production as a compelling rejoinder to neoliberalism’s violences. She situates women of color feminism, often dismissed as narrow or limited in its effect, as a potent diagnosis of and alternative to such violences. And she argues for the importance of women of color feminism to any critical engagement with contemporary neoliberalism.


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