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From Post-Revolutionary Mexico to fin de siglo Mexamerica
Celluloid Nationalism and Other Melodramas looks at representation and rebellion in times of national uncertainty. Moving from mid-century Mexican cinema to recent films staged in Los Angeles and Mexico City, Susan Dever analyzes melodrama’s double function as a genre and as a sensibility, revealing coincidences between movie morals and political pieties in the civic-minded films of Emilio Fernández, Matilde Landeta, Allison Anders, and Marcela Fernández Violante. These filmmakers’ rationally and emotionally engaged cinema—offering representations of indigenous peoples and poor urban women who alternately endorsed “civilizing” projects and voiced resistance to such totalization—both interrupts and sustains fictions of national coherence in an increasingly transnational world.
Women and the Pre-History of the Great Chain of Being
In Centaurs and Amazons, Page duBois offers a prehistory of hierarchy. Using structural anthropology, symbolic analysis, and recent literary theory, she demonstrates a shift in Greek thought from the fifth to the fourth century B.C. that had a profound influence upon subsequent Western culture and politics. Through an analysis of mythology, drama, sculpture, architecture, and Greek vase painting, duBois documents the transition from a system of thought that organized the experience of difference in terms of polarity and analogy to one based upon a relatively rigid hierarchical scheme. This was the beginning of "the great chain of being," the philosophical construct that all life was organized in minute gradations of superiority and inferiority. This scheme, in various guises, has continued to influence philosophical and political thought. The author's intelligent and discriminating use of scholarship from various fields makes Centaurs and Amazons an impressive interdisciplinary study of interest to classicists, feminist scholars, historians, art historians, anthropologists, and political scientists.
Gender and Periodization
Beyond the focus of feminist challenges to American literary periodization, this volume also studies issues of a need for literary reforms considering differences in race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality. The essays are valuable and informative as individual critical studies of specific writers and their works. Challenging Boundaries presents intelligent, original, well-written, and practical arguments in support of long-awaited changes in American literary scholarship and is a milestone of feminist literary study.
Feminism as Political Critique
Questions about the relevance and value of various liberal concepts are at the heart of important debates among feminist philosophers and social theorists. Although many feminists invoke concepts such as rights, equality, autonomy, and freedom in arguments for liberation, some attempt to avoid them, noting that they can also reinforce and perpetuate oppressive social structures. In Challenging Liberalism Schwartzman explores the reasons why concepts such as rights and equality can sometimes reinforce oppression. She argues that certain forms of abstraction and individualism are central to liberal methodology and that these give rise to a number of problems. Drawing on the work of feminist moral, political, and legal theorists, she constructs an approach that employs these concepts, while viewing them from within a critique of social relations of power.
The Life and Legacy of Women's Advocate Nafis Sadik
Not many women can claim to have changed history, but Nafis Sadik set that goal in her youth, and change the world she did. Champion of Choice tells the remarkable story of how Sadik, born into a prominent Indian family in 1929, came to be the world’s foremost advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights, the first female director of a United Nations agency, and “one of the most powerful women in the world” (London Times).
An obstetrician, wife, mother, and devout Muslim, Sadik has been a courageous and tireless advocate for women, insisting on discussing the difficult issues that impact their lives: education, contraception, abortion, as well as rape and other forms of violence. After Sadik joined the fledgling UN Population Fund in 1971, her groundbreaking strategy for providing females with education and the tools to control their own fertility has dramatically influenced the global birthrate. This book is the first to examine Sadik’s contribution to history and the unconventional methods she has employed to go head-to-head with world leaders to improve millions of women’s lives.
Interspersed between the chapters recounting Sadik’s life are vignettes of females around the globe who represent her campaign against domestic abuse, child marriage, genital mutilation, and other human rights violations. With its insights into the political, religious, and domestic battles that have dominated women’s destinies, Sadik’s life story is as inspirational as it is dramatic.
The Autobiography of Alice Salomon
In her autobiography, the remarkable feminist and social worker Alice Salomon recounts her transition in the 1890s from privileged idleness to energetic engagement in solving social problems. Salomon took the lead in establishing the profession of social work, and built a career as a social reformer, activist, and educator. A prolific author, Salomon also played a key role in the transatlantic dialogue between German and American feminists in the early twentieth century. Her narrative concludes with the account of her expulsion from Germany by the Nazis in 1937. Salomon's formative influence on the field of social work makes her story crucial for the history of the discipline. This work will also appeal to anyone with an interest in the history of the feminist and socialist movements or the political and social history of twentieth-century Germany. The volume also includes several of Salomon's essays on social work and women's issues, along with photographs of Salomon, her students, and her colleagues. Andrew Lees is Professor and Chair of the History Department at Rutgers University, Camden.
“These essays exemplify all the virtues of interdisciplinarity in consideration of that most multidisciplined of writers, Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The contributors simultaneously clarify and complicate our understanding of some of the more vexed areas of Gilman's work by engaging saliently with her theories of ethnicity, class, prostitution, and the dynamics of gender; posing difficult questions to contemporary feminist scholars; and providing sensitive and insightful guidance to a well-chosen and wide range of texts.”—Janet Beer, author of Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton and Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Studies in Short Fiction
Trail of Tears, Civil War, and Allotment, 1838-1907
Explains how traditional Cherokee women's roles were destabilized, modified, recovered, and in some ways strengthened during three periods of great turmoil.
American Indian women have traditionally played vital roles in social hierarchies at the family, clan, and tribal levels. In the Cherokee Nation, specifically, women and men are considered equal contributors to the culture. With this study, however, we learn that three key historical events in the 19th and early 20th centuries—removal, the Civil War, and allotment of their lands—forced a radical renegotiation of gender roles and relations in Cherokee society.
Carolyn Johnston (who is related to John Ross, principal chief of the Nation) looks at how Cherokee women navigated these crises in ways that allowed them to retain their traditional assumptions, ceremonies, and beliefs and to thereby preserve their culture. In the process, they both lost and retained power. The author sees a poignant irony in the fact that Europeans who encountered Native societies in which women had significant power attempted to transform them into patriarchal ones and that American women struggled for hundreds of years to achieve the kind of equality that Cherokee women had enjoyed for more than a millennium.
Johnston examines the different aspects of Cherokee women's power: authority in the family unit and the community, economic independence, personal autonomy, political clout, and spirituality. Weaving a great-grandmother theme throughout the narrative, she begins with the protest of Cherokee women against removal and concludes with the recovery of the mother town of Kituwah and the elections of Wilma Mankiller and Joyce Dugan as principal chiefs of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokees.
Working Parents and the History of Orphanages
This innovative study examines the development of institutional child care from 1878 to 1929, based on a comparison of two "sister" orphanages in Pittsburgh: the all-white United Presbyterian Orphan's Home and the all-black Home for Colored Children. Drawing on quantitative analysis of the records of more than 1,500 children living at the two orphanages, as well as census data, city logs, and contemporary social science surveys, this study raises new questions about the role of child care in constructing and perpetrating social inequality in the United States.
The Body and Identity in Contemporary Dance
The choreographies of Bill T. Jones, Cleveland Ballet Dancing Wheels, Zab Maboungou, David Dorfman, Marie Chouinard, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and others, have helped establish dance as a crucial discourse of the 90s. These dancers, Ann Cooper Albright argues, are asking the audience to see the body as a source of cultural identity -- a physical presence that moves with and through its gendered, racial, and social meanings.
Through her articulate and nuanced analysis of contemporary choreography, Albright shows how the dancing body shifts conventions of representation and provides a critical example of the dialectical relationship between cultures and the bodies that inhabit them. As a dancer, feminist, and philosopher, Albright turns to the material experience of bodies, not just the body as a figure or metaphor, to understand how cultural representation becomes embedded in the body. In arguing for the intelligence of bodies, Choreographing Difference is itself a testimonial, giving voice to some important political, moral, and artistic questions of our time.