- Editors' Note
After six years of editing the Journal of Women's History, we are packing it up and packing it in, downloading our databases onto flash drives, and sending the journal to its new home in Binghamton, New York. It is a hectic time, as we work to assure a smooth transition to the new editorial team, but it is also a time for reflection, as we think about all we had hoped to accomplish in our years as editors. Where did we hit the mark? Where did we fall short? We came to this editorial work with a shared commitment to the transnational possibilities of women's and feminist history and we did so at a time when very real and concrete changes in the mechanics of journal publishing and distribution were opening up a "virtual" world of possibilities in terms of new readers, new reviewers, and most importantly, new contributors. What would it mean to truly transnationalize women's history, rather than just simply bring international history to feminist historians based in North America? We have been able, over these past six years, to assemble and work with a board whose membership stretches across the globe. We now regularly receive submissions from feminist scholars from a range of locales and on an ever-expanding variety of topics. Still, as we opined in the journal's twentieth anniversary issue, that "virtual" world of possibilities is not equally accessible. Economic disparity, uneven access to resources, to avenues for publishing, and to bandwidth—not to mention the hegemony of English-language scholarship and the challenges of translation—continue to limit in profound and enduring ways who contributes to the Journal of Women's History and who reads it.
If six years ago we imagined ourselves—perhaps somewhat naively—creating a space for transnational dialogue and debate around feminist histories, especially feminist histories that do not privilege the experiences of white middle-class women in the so-called "West," today we have developed a profound appreciation for how difficult it is to find that space. All too often "common ground" reproduces, at every turn, the hegemony of the North American academy or the unequal power relations and uneven access to resources that disaggregate academic labor globally. The thematic threads of feminist historiography, moreover, are not woven into a rich transnational tapestry of common concerns. They are disparate, often distinct and disconnected, and very much determined by local (regional and national) political economies of knowledge production. How do you balance contributions to area-specific knowledge against contributions to [End Page 9] comparative or transnational histories? What are the costs of privileging the latter over the former? How, when, and under what circumstances, as Adrienne Rich might ask, does "inclusion" become "incorporation" rather than transformation, let alone a radical revisioning? These are only some of the questions we will take away from our journal labors over these past six years.
Still, our final issue does, we think, point toward the future. It points not just toward the promise, but toward the possibility of situating locally generated questions in comparative, transnational perspective; the possibility of crossing borders of all kinds. We have assembled here seven outstanding articles that range from eighteenth-century Ireland to the late-twentieth-century United States and address a host of fascinating topics from incubators to consumer boycotts, from truck adverts to movie magazines. We open with Mary O'Dowd's "Politics, Patriotism, and Women in Eighteenth-Century Ireland, Britain, and Colonial America," which takes on the common assumption among colonial Americanists that the consumer boycott was an "original American invention." Examining the political economy of Ireland in the eighteenth century and women's roles in advocating consumer boycotts of non-Irish goods, O'Dowd demonstrates how the specific colonial experiences of Ireland and America created particular roles for women in public discourse, especially around the consumption of goods. These were patriotic roles that were not in evidence in England or Scotland at the time and were arguably generated by the specificities of the marketplace in the colonial context. In "Slavery, U.S. Expansion, and Married Women's Property Law," Laurel Clark situates her work...