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The year 2017 marks the fortieth anniversary of the Combahee River Collective Statement. To commemorate and reflect on the importance of this statement for feminist praxis, Frontiers invited feminist thinkers to respond to three questions: 1. How has the CRC statement transformed feminism? 2. What is the intellectual genealogy of women of color feminisms? 3. What is the relationship among women of color feminisms and other forms of feminisms? From these questions, themes emerged that emphasize the CRC's impact on our collective formations as feminist scholars, the perpetual renovation of feminist concepts, and the new directions in which feminist theories take us. After an introductory section on how some of our roundtablists first encountered the CRC statement, the roundtable then explores two key concepts that the statement articulated, namely intersectionality and identity politics. Our commentators next analyze the genealogy of women of color feminisms as well as the connections and dissonances with Indigenous and transnational feminisms. The roundtable concludes with brief meditations on the importance of feminist remembrance and the continued significance of the CRC statement in the current political context.

Four of our authors (Diane Harriford, Tricia Lin, Zenaida Peterson, and Becky Thompson) had the good fortune to share their ideas in person as they attended a yoga retreat in Greece! Additional scholars (Leslie Bow, Avtar Brah, Mishuana Goeman, Shari Huhndorf, AnaLouise Keating, Laura E. Pérez, and Tiffany Willoughby-Herard) participated in this conversation through the sharing of writings. All these voices are presented in conversation, which we hope reflects the communal spirit of the Combahee River Collective.

first encounters and feminist inspirations

diane harriford, yi-chun tricia lin, zenaida peterson, and becky thompson:

When Frontiers asked us to contribute to this roundtable, we just [End Page 164] happened to be sitting at a literal roundtable together in Lesvos, Greece. We were participating in a two-week yoga retreat led by the incomparable Angela Farmer and Victor Van Kooten, whose teaching first brought us to the island. This travel led us to witness and provide support in Lesvos for what has evolved into the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.1 The Frontiers invitation catapulted a number of conversations among us about the deep influence of "A Black Feminist Statement" by the Combahee River Collective on our lives, conversations that have woven into our yoga practices, walks, and dinners together. We share some of our responses in this compilation.


As a recent arrival to United States feminism from Taiwan, I have found that "Combahee" has had a profound impact on my feminist formation. I was not in the United States in 1977 when it was first published, nor was feminism made accessible for a "good" daughter of Taiwan. But I remember a wakening of a sort when I finally came upon "Combahee," reading it with much hunger and thirst that I had never realized was in me. Since my first encounter, "Combahee" has made tremendous global links for me to other feminisms, in particular transnational Indigenous feminisms. The Black feminist statement in "Combahee" allowed me a critical insight into the lived conditions of other sisters of color often invisible in the mainstream feminist literature. How much do I not know, I asked myself. How much has been hidden from me? This insight and awakening from my first "Combahee" contact became a bridge, a knowledge, and a method in itself. This bridge called "Combahee" led me to the diverse, rich, and dazzling Indigenous feminist articulations, collaborations, and manifestations in action/activism, art, literature, and critical scholarship. It ultimately led me home, back to the Pacific, to Taiwan: to Taiwan Indigenous feminism, its roles in Indigenous movements, and its decades of work globally and internationally. Indigenous feminist work has always been plural, transnational, and border/boundary crossing, as evidenced in the three decades of collaboration that led to the passage of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007.2 The work is likewise reflected in the transnational and transcultural collective known as the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers.3

This roundtable asks us to consider our intellectual genealogies. This statement has been an inspiration for me when thinking about the sources of my feminist energies. In that way, I have to go back to my own roots. I come from a long line of strong women, albeit at times regarded as crazy. When my grandmother said to me, solemnly in private, shortly before her death, that we must be good to our mother, her daughter-in-law, her few words put tears in my eyes. I came to realize that it was a tremendous feminist moment. You see, my growing up was filled with a house of bickering and my grandmother fighting [End Page 165] with my mother, who had to endure a very abusive marriage to my father, the favorite son of Grandma whom she would never utter a word against . . .

In so many ways, Black feminism, as manifested in "Combahee," has very much impacted my feminist work, both scholarly and activist. On the fortieth anniversary of the "Combahee" publication, we may begin considering a project gauging "Combahee's" global and transnational impact. In that light, while feminist scholarship in Asia is hard to generalize about, since it is a huge and diverse continent in every way, in my interactions with Korean and South Asian feminists, many have taken a chapter out of Black feminist work. While it is not the only source of inspiration, it is certainly one catalyst for our scholarship and activism.


My initial connection to "Combahee" is quite different than yours. I am fascinated that we found this statement from such different social locations and circumstances, yet we all consider it pivotal to our own work and lives.

In the late 1970s I was trying to sustain my recently acquired racial consciousness and also find my way into feminism as well as write a dissertation about Black women. Many Black women seemed like they were feminists, but I did not find them in the mainstream feminist movement. I wanted to write a dissertation about these race- and gender-conscious Black women.

I had read Frances Beal's essay "Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female" (1970), but when I read "Combahee," I was absolutely convinced that Black feminists existed and went looking for them. I found them in the New York Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), a national activist group of workingclass women led by Black women. More personally, the Statement helped me understand why the one Black man in my graduate school class had two offices when I didn't have one, why his experience became "the Black experience" and why his work was seen as groundbreaking. "Combahee" helped me understand my own social location and feminism in a more capacious way. As the statement declares, "If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression."4 We see that when Black women begin to talk, it gives everyone else a space to speak as well. When Black women feel that their lives are worth taking seriously, it makes it possible for other women of color to think their lives should be taken seriously.

I am sure that Patricia Hill Collin's groundbreaking Black Feminist Thought (1990), a text I teach in several of my women's studies and sociology classes, was germinated by "Combahee." Other early works—Gloria Naylor's novels, Michele Wallace's Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (1978), and [End Page 166] Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf (1974)—were also part of this period. The pressure and controversy that many Black women faced upon publication of their brave books speak to the courage it took to write during that time. Many Black women had to hold themselves together out of sheer will in the face of criticism aimed at them. Their work was dangerous and paradigm shifting. "Combahee" centered Black women within mainstream feminist spaces that were forced to expand.


As a multiracial (Afro-Cuban/Scandinavian) queer student of political science and sociology, I read "Combahee" with a compilation of other authors to create the foundation for my understanding of the attempted genocide on women of color. These lessons that were written decades ago should have juxtaposed the world around me now but unfortunately they are still too relevant.

"Combahee" gave me a language for so much of what I was feeling, studying in a white upper-middle-class academic institution. At the same time "Combahee" found me I was looking for new language to describe being a woman of color, since in some ways, feminism is not coming from the same places it was forty years ago. There has been a shift in the way that young people interact with feminism. It has become more accessible. Groups of people who didn't have access to Audre Lorde and "Combahee" now do because feminism is not exclusive to academic spaces in the ways it has been.

Before, feminists would look toward activist/writers in "Combahee" and other important voices who held the anti-racist feminist community together. Now we often find feminism in media and pop culture. We organize demonstrations over breakfast on Twitter. We critique each other in that space and we show solidarity there, too. Music and pop culture are daily feminist conferences and our leaders look like Beyoncé. But this is not a depthless devotion. They are our idols, but Beyoncé is not just a woman that we scream at in football stadiums. Beyoncé is also academic, she is a product of "Combahee" and reminds women about the power of the Black Panthers. She tells us that Katrina is not just our past, that the mothers of Black men shot by the police have not gone away. The history of the United States is interlaced in our present.

Oppression wants us to believe that we are responsible for our pain. Beyoncé tells us that we are not and that we, as women of color, are allowed to grieve. That our fierceness and our self-consciousness and our sorrows are examples of strength. In her months of walking with refugees in Greece, Becky [Thompson] says that many of the youth were eager to talk about Beyoncé and other pop artists. Beyoncé sings about being flawless and "slaying" as an announcement not only of her desirability but of the self-confidence [End Page 167] and self-love she sees as a power tool that white supremacy doesn't want us to have. Self-love is a radical act and something that we can all sing along to and internalize.


I am struck here by Gloria Akasha Hull's crucial naming of the synergism of Black feminist writing, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the genesis of multiracial feminism. A swirling of energy that resonated across many communities, the Zeitgeist of the time.

I was in the lucky situation of coming of age as a feminist, a lesbian, a white woman during this period. The energy in the air was so alive, vibrant, challenging. That may be why it's hard for me to separate "Combahee" from Home Girls, from Bernice Johnson Reagon's "Coalition Politics: Turning the Century," from This Bridge Called My Back, from love. For me, "Combahee" is intimately connected to my years of partnership with Evelynn Hammonds (one of the original members of the Combahee Collective); and how the hair on my arms stood up when I heard Bernice Johnson Reagon deliver her "Coalition Politics" speech at the West Coast Women's Music Festival in 1981; and the excitement in the air when Kate Rushin read "The Bridge Poem" in bookstores around Boston in the 1980s.

It's all of a piece for me—love, break-ups, political arguments, strategies, mimeographed statements, organizing against Apartheid in the 1980s. The concept of when Black women are free everyone will be free was/is our mantra—if you put Black women at the center of analysis, all of the components of liberatory change will be there: standing against colonialism, racism, poverty, and other oppressions; nurturing coalition politics; keeping dance and music at the heart of organizing; understanding the power of the erotic and bed-based networks that get midnight hour work done; treating our bodies as temples; knowing we all need a place to call home. Women of color were teaching white women that, in the words of Kate Rushin, we had to "stretch or drown/evolve or die." Elly Bulkin, Mab Segrest, Ruth First, Naomi Jaffe, and Anne Braden were doing that stretching.5 There was a lot of work to do.

leslie bow:

When the Combahee River Collective's original manifesto was written, I was an adolescent in the San Francisco Bay Area, a time and place awash in change. I was introduced to the Black feminist statement years later in the context of the anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa. I want to stress an inversion of impact and influence here at least from the perspective of my own feminist consciousness and perhaps for that of my generation: the Combahee River Collective Statement was my introduction to feminism. It was [End Page 168] only afterward that I went back to read Simone de Beauvoir and Gloria Steinem or Carole Pateman, Catharine MacKinnon, and Nancy Chodorow.6 What does it mean, then, to see race, sexuality, and class struggle as intrinsic to claiming solidarity as women? To me, this intersection seemed like common sense.

Combahee's manifesto challenged the horizon of activism fixated on equality with men. One of the historical transformations it also helped usher in is suggested in the footnote to the collective's name: in resurrecting Harriet Tubman's guerrilla action, it affirmed the existence of an archive that was marginalized, buried, or otherwise discounted. For me, its impact has also been philosophical. It implicitly asked my generation to be suspicious of any claims to gender universalism, modeling the idea that all theorizing must begin with an understanding of the interplay between the local and the transcendent.

mishuana goeman:

As I began to write this, news of the young Navajo woman Loreal Tsingine's death resonates in sync with the all too numerous deaths of Black men, Black women, and children at the hands of police and "vigilante" violence. As I rewrite this piece, I add to this the death of Colton Boushie, shot by a farmer in Saskatoon when he went to seek help for a flat tire. Loreal had nothing but a pair of scissors, and the five-foot-tallwoman died from five gunshots after a presumed shoplifting. Colton merely knocked on the door for neighborly help in rural Canada. None of these cases have been brought to justice. None of these deaths were the first, and most likely as the structures of racism and colonial state violence adhere to reinforce each other, more of our lives will be lost. Like the CRC, I root the "life and death struggle for survival and liberation" for Native peoples as part of our historical presence in this hemisphere. Settler colonialism is the demand for our death through the projects of elimination. The CRC has a profound impact on how I think through the gendered dimensions of this settler demand. On the borders of reservations and small towns and demarcated city spaces, the death and dying of Native men and women is so common that it is seen as another inevitable process of Indigenous demise from those presumed dead already. However, Native death materializes not only through the taking of our individual lives but also through the destruction of land and water. As corporate pipeline projects and water usurping threaten our ability to live, not just culturally but literally, this moment has escalated. In settler logic the only real Indian is a dead Indian. Responding to the question of how the last forty years after CRC'S pivotal, powerful, and personal collaborative statement affected change has been difficult in the wake of this visually highlighted state violence. CRC's impactful statement "We cannot live without our lives" rings too true today for Black, Brown and Indigenous bodies. CRC's pinpointing of neglect [End Page 169] to pay attention to the most vulnerable is still so very salient today.

concepts: intersectionality

avtar brah:

Written in 1977, the CRC statement is one of the most powerful documents of women of color feminism—indeed, of all categories of feminism. It emerged out of the economic, political, cultural, intellectual, and emotional struggles of a collective of Black lesbians in Boston. It finds a strong resonance in formations of women of color feminism in Britain, where I have been an academic and an activist. It is now widely acknowledged that the statement is a forerunner to our current debates on intersectionality. Its argument that "we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking" is singularly prescient. Its emphasis on "simultaneous experience" of different axes of differentiation, such as racism, gender, class, and sexuality, is critical in understanding the effects and experience of various and variable articulating modalities of power and prefigures later debates on how to theorize questions of "embodiment" and "experience."

shari huhndorf:

The statement laid the groundwork for Kimberlé Crenshaw's elaboration of the theory of intersectionality, which has reshaped feminist and anti-racist scholarship and practice. The theory of intersectionality was crucial. The insight that multiple systems of oppression—race, gender, class, ethnicity, and sexuality—structure women's experiences and shape their social places not only differentiated women of color feminism, but just as significantly, it created new possibilities for relationships among different activist and feminist projects. It thus decentered whiteness as the social norm and inevitable point of comparison.

analouise keating:

The Combahee River Collective Statement taught us vital lessons about self-love; multiplicity; accountability; intersectionality; and complex feminism, among other things. This statement represents one of the first contemporary discussions and demonstrations of intersectionality—years before Kimberlé Crenshaw brought the term itself into circulation. Unlike some contemporary iterations of intersectionality, which in various ways flatten the term, the Combahee River Collective offers nuanced attention to the relationship between complex embodied identities and systemic "racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class" oppression.7 As this nuanced attention to complex, embodied relationships and systems of power indicates, the Combahee [End Page 170] River Collective offers a broad definition of feminism that begins with the experiences of Black US women but moves outward. In their statement, the women of the Combahee River Collective enact a robust version of feminism that links consciousness raising with the possibilities of effecting individual, collective, and social transformation in ways that do not become trapped by personal agendas or single-issue politics.

While the Combahee River Collective Statement's impact has been very significant, it should be even greater. This statement should be at the forefront of twenty-first-century discussions of identity politics, intersectionality, and transformation. More scholars should reference it and attempt to model their own work after it.

concepts: identity politics


As I have watched "identity politics" that were first named in Home Girls become a bad word in certain academic circles (equating it with essentialism, silos, and divisiveness), I feel myself wanting to whip out one of the red cardstock copies of the "Combahee" pamphlet we used to carry around and say, "Read this, okay?" As Flo Kennedy had said, "We are Attica or we are nothing at all" (i.e., there was nothing exclusionary about Combahee's identity politics). The Combahee members in 1979 organized people from all across Boston to protest police refusal to investigate the murders of twelve Black women and one white woman. "Combahee" came from the street. "Combahee" remains the street for many of us.


It has been argued by detractors that groups organizing on the basis of identity politics are inward-looking, narrowly focused, and divisive and as such they undermine the coherence of broader social movements. Identity politics are assumed to construct "hierarchies of oppression" and represent essentialist notions of "identity." Yet it is clear that far from being narrowly focused, the Combahee River Collective is envisioning and proposing a global transformation of the social conditions of subordinate groups everywhere in the world. The collective believed in working in solidarity with progressive groups that held similar political perspectives to their own but on an equal footing, emphasizing that "oppressed" groups should be able to organize from a position of strength gained from working with others whose life chances they share. Their concept of identity is intersectional rather than essentialist. I would say that the Combahee River Collective document analyzes the specificity of the "layered" historical and contemporary experience of Black women instead of offering an argument in favor of "hierarchies of oppression." [End Page 171]

Importantly, the work of the collective demonstrates its contribution to the development of the feminist principle that "the personal is political," pointing to the critical importance of emotional and affective dimensions of political work, especially that which entails working simultaneously on several fronts, such as gender, class, race, and so on. They refer to the "psychological toll" of such work, especially if you are Black women, and speak of experiences of "success and defeat, joy and pain, victory and failure." Here is an example of an early antecedent to today's debates about "subjectivity" and the "affective turn" in feminist theory.

The collective describes the difficulties of doing political work among communities, especially around issues that are perceived to be controversial. There are powerful pointers in the statement as to the principles that should govern feminist organizing and practice. There is a categorical disavowal of authoritarian and anti-democratic forms of operating: "In the practice of our politics we do not believe that the end always justifies the means. Many reactionary and destructive acts have been done in the name of achieving 'correct' political goals. As feminists we do not want to mess over people in the name of politics. We believe in collective process and non-hierarchical distribution of power within our own group." These principles of care remain as relevant today as they were forty years ago.


Women of color feminism took the Women's Movement slogan "the personal is political" into new territory by affirming embodied discourse, identity linked to epistemology. The title of Amy Ling's 1987 "I'm Here: An Asian American Woman's Response" affirmed two things: yes, we are here. Second, one's viewpoint comes through race and gender, not in spite of them. Affirming the multiplicity of locations from which to make knowledge claims represented an alternative to silence, invisibility, and being "represented" by western scholarship or state power.

I want to resurrect the importance of women of color feminism and identity politics to "standpoint theory": both enabled what I see as an alternative Copernican revolution decentering the white male "gaze" in concert with the influence of poststructuralist thought. Donna Haraway's "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective" is part of that genealogy, in addition to Joan W. Scott's 1992 essay "Experience."8 Cutting my teeth on academic theorizing in the 1980s and early '90s meant reconciling the materialist, diverse, and social justice orientation of women of color feminism with its seeming opposite, poststructuralist theory and the deconstructivist "free play" of linguistic meaning. At the time, picking up the master's tools was not easy, but I came to an appreciation of how [End Page 172] the concerns of both overlapped in the methodologies of cultural studies and its emphasis on the discursivity of "lived experience." Essays such as Janice Gould's 1992 "The Problem of Being 'Indian': One Mixed Blood's Dilemma" helped me think through what others were calling "strategic essentialism," a self-conscious release from authenticity toward a more complex understanding of subjectivity.9 As someone in literature, I see the personal narrative as a privileged form of women of color feminist expression.

We all know that "identity politics" has since become co-opted to stand for bias and divisiveness. But to me, it established the seeds of a radical epistemological shift. "Speaking as" and identity categories are not limiting straitjackets; they challenge disembodied ways of knowing.

intellectual genealogies

tiffany willoughby-herard:

I trace the intellectual genealogy of women of color feminism to the Combahee River Collective and to before them. Their writings and activism acknowledged a way of thinking historical, present, and future abolitionist tendencies all at the same time.10 I am deeply appreciative of their focus on historiography epitomized in their naming themselves after a late nineteenth-century military battle and a Black woman general who fought to end slavery (in the Americas writ large) and a slavery mindset of fear a century before them. I think fundamentally about When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings (1984), Black Women in White America: A Documentary History by Gerda Lerner (1972), Black Protest: History, Documents, and Analyses: 1619 to the Present by Joanne Grant (1969), and Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor by Patricia J. Williams (1992).

The concepts that I think women of color feminism best articulates are the role of reproduction under slavery and racial colonialism, the existence and social meaning of the medical plantation and medical experimentation, and radical Black feminist internationalism. So here are a few moments to consider: the Black Women's Health Project has shifted national and international discourses on the family and state policies of control over women's reproduction. Their long-lasting pressure and the changes they have made in women's thinking about livable lives and power have put reproductive justice front and center for countless conversations about reproduction, reproductive technologies, and genetic science. Black feminists working in science and technology studies have compelled the entire field of science and society to acknowledge how the science of eugenics continues to shore up white life and treat Black and Brown bodies as sites of readily available experimentation.11 Thus what [End Page 173] seem like annoying institutional review board processes have the possibility of changing the way medical researchers are trained.

Black feminist legal scholars and Black feminist LGBTQ legal scholars insisting that the epistemology of legal reasoning be centered have offered us critical race feminist law and global critical race feminist law, one of the most productive areas of legal thinking in the twenty-first century.12 I think about the women of color feminists organizing with Linda Burnham and the Women of Color Resource Center in Oakland, California, USA, talking about the impact of racialized gender consciousness and battling on the frontlines of an ongoing war against women of color and the day when United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson used their framework to explain how rape was a crime of war and that women civilians were made into combatants.13

At the level of state development policies, medical science and research, law, and war, we face perennial and enduring problems because each of these areas still views our bodies as sites of gratuitous violence and punishment and psychic pleasure and as commodities. But that Black feminists and women of color feminists have so effectively proclaimed that we, ourselves, are not the problem and that war is being made on us is extraordinarily meaningful politically and spiritually.


Women of color feminism is multiple and heterogeneous even as it shares many elements with other groups. In Britain in the 1970s and 1980s we had coalitions of African-Caribbean and Asian feminists and we defined ourselves as "black." Here black was viewed as a political color that challenged the politics of "chromatism" inherent within the British discourse of "colored people" that was a colonial and postcolonial code for racialized groups. Black British feminism was deeply marked by this shared history of imperialism and the contemporary experience of racism, patriarchal inequality, and subordinate class position. This strand of feminism was inextricably connected with Black people's experience of racism, gender, sexuality, and class inequity and inequality. Hence British Black feminism shared a great deal with the politics of the Combahee River Collective and drew upon its statement as an important intellectual resource.14


Just as there are multiple strands to women of color feminisms, there are multiple intellectual genealogies. My personal, scholarly, and pedagogical interests are shaped by visionary pragmatism—a term I borrow from Patricia Hill Collins and use to describe a bold approach to transformation that combines optimistic, forward-looking thought with context-specific [End Page 174] actions anchored in the present and informed by a nuanced understanding of history. Two visionary concepts crucial to the field are Gloria Anzaldúa's theory-praxis of "spiritual activism" and Chela Sandoval's theory of "differential consciousness."15 Spiritual activism is an affirmative, experientially inflected epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics based on the premise of our radical interconnectedness with all existence. Typically, we assume that "spiritual" refers to other-worldly, inward-looking beliefs that downplay or entirely deny social injustices, and that "activism" refers to outward-directed interaction with the physical world—the very world that spirituality is presumed to discount. Anzaldúa confounds this conventional division, insisting that spiritual/physical, inner/outer, individual/collective are parts of a larger whole, joined in a complex, interwoven pattern. A pre-secular, decolonial theory-praxis shaped by the desire for healing, social justice, and inclusionary communities, spiritual activism offers alternatives to dichotomous philosophies that separate body from mind, spirit from physical matter, and contemplation from activism.16 As such, spiritual activism intervenes in the dominant secularity of Women's and Gender Studies, feminist theory, and other aspects of academic life; offers additional sources of inspiration, sustenance, and transformation for social justice activists; and honors the roles ancestors, spirits, folk healing, and other forms of nondominant technologies have played in the lives of many women of color (and others).

Sandoval coined the term differential consciousness to describe the innovative tactical work performed by Anzaldúa, the Combahee River Collective, Audre Lorde, Paula Gunn Allen, and other twentieth-century women of color feminists. Unlike conventional feminist and ethnic politics, which typically adopt a single approach to social change and apply this approach to every situation, these women use various strategies in nuanced, context-specific ways. As Sandoval explains in Methodology of the Oppressed, "Differential consciousness is composed of difference and contradictions, which then serve as tactical interventions in the other mobility that is power. . . . Within the realm of differential consciousness there are no ultimate answers, no terminal utopia (though the imagination of utopias can motivate its tactics), no predictable final outcomes."17 Differential consciousness enables us to be creative, flexible, and open-minded as we simultaneously confront racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. We develop and enact relational epistemologies, visionary ethics, and diverse coalitions that can nimbly address situations as they arise.


Within my own discipline of literary studies, Hazel Carby's Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist [End Page 175] (1987) was a crucial landmark. Carby understood literature as a form of social engagement through which women interrogated racialized and gendered ideologies and social practices. In Native American Studies, I would argue, literature serves as a particularly important source of social (including anticolonial) critique and alternative histories and epistemologies. This is true in part because of barriers to participating in more official forms of knowledge production and also because of long Indigenous traditions of conveying knowledge through the medium of stories. Within Indigenous feminism, literature offers some of the most pointed critiques of the ways that colonialism has transformed the social places of Indigenous women. Louise Erdrich's recent prize-winning novel The Round House (2012), which takes up the legal and historical reasons for exceedingly high rates of sexual violence against Indigenous women, is a key example. Because of its imaginative dimensions, literature also helps us to conceive of alternative, more just social possibilities.

laura e. pérez:

I would argue, as Sandoval suggests, that survival is part of the intellectual genealogy because it is the practice, the social reality from which women of color (in our different communities) have navigated physical and psychological violence to themselves and our families and communities and from which women like those of the Combahee River Collective and other early women of color feminists theorize and formulate a strikingly innovative and real analytic: how to navigate gendered, sexed, classed racism, and even how to disarticulate it, and what we, as humans, might aim for instead—the elaboration of the concept of "Third World" or "women of color" as umbrella terms represents part of the breakthrough, anti-divide-and-conquer white supremacist mythology, countering it with a practice of coalitionary thought and practice. This divide between thought and practice is imperfect because in this situation, this type of thought is a praxis at the epistemological level.

women of color feminisms: indigeneity and globality


I picture the relationship between women of color feminisms, other versions of feminism, and versions of womanism as a mobile Venn diagram in which interlocking, partially overlapping, constantly moving circles generate complex, never-ending dialogues among similarities, sameness, and difference. I describe this Venn diagram as mobile to suggest that the interrelationships among these various feminisms constantly shift and change—in both subtle and overt ways. The diagram's circles include but are not limited to third wave feminisms, Indigenous feminisms, Asian American feminisms, [End Page 176] Chicana feminisms, Black feminisms, transnational feminisms, Africana womanism, transcultural womanism, and the list goes on and on. The multiplicity is stunning, but not overwhelming, because these numerous feminist-womanist iterations share several vital traits: (1) respect for and careful attention to difference—defined relationally, not hierarchically; (2) acceptance of multiplicity—multiple methods, tactics, truths, and so on—which should not be confused with open-ended relativism; (3) context-specific approaches to gender and sexism, in which gender is not isolated from other dimensions of human identity but is always inflected by ethnicity/race, sexuality, religion, region, history, nation, etc.; and (4) attempts to address multiple issues simultaneously.

Because I self-define as a womanist, I conclude by mentioning womanism's relationship to women of color feminisms. Like Layli (Phillips) Maparyan, who has contributed significantly to the expansion of womanist thought in recent years, I do not believe that feminism and womanism can be conflated; nor would I define womanism as a version of feminist thought. Instead, I view womanism as a radically inclusive movement created by women of color, especially African American women. I define womanism as radically inclusive because it does not, necessarily, foreground gender (even relational gender) but instead works to address all forms of oppression. As Maparyan explains, womanism is a "social change perspective rooted in Black women's and other women of color's everyday experiences and everyday methods of problem solving in everyday spaces, extended to the problem of ending all forms of oppression for all people, restoring the balance between people and the environment/nature, and reconciling human life with the spiritual dimension."18 This inclusiveness gives womanism the potential to embrace contradictions and ambivalence in new ways, making it radical in its transformational promises.


Transnational and women of color feminism are inextricably linked. The former focuses on the global regimes of patriarchal inequities and inequalities, which underpin contemporary neo-imperial, neoliberal policies and practices. As the Combahee River Collective Statement highlighted, these global dimensions have a close bearing on the life chances of women in the global South as well as women of color in the global North, together with poor women everywhere. Feminists of color desire and demand socioeconomic, political, and cultural justice for all women. These two sets of feminists continually articulate and intersect. In contemporary feminisms, questions of war, of securitization policies of the state, racism, desperate journeys of refugees and asylum seekers across the globe, political conflicts, global poverty, famines, droughts, floods, and general environmental degradation are all [End Page 177] crucial. The Indigenous feminisms have their own particularities, yet share a great deal with women of color feminisms and transnational feminisms. It is important, however, to note that in Britain, some organizations on the far Right try to claim an "indigenous" status in opposition to those with an immigrant background. Questions of power, dispossession, exploitation, and domination are therefore central to definitions of indigeneity.


Indigenous feminisms' intervention into feminist demands for state inclusion is key to my reading of the Combahee River Collective. Revisiting the CRC provides a way to engage a similar and alternative politics in people of color organizing. The CRC's early realization that "the liberation of all oppressed peoples necessitates the destruction of the political-economic systems of capitalism and imperialism as well as patriarchy" rings true in the twenty-first century as Native people fight the destruction of their land, water, and futurities. It has been forty years since they pegged this key element in fighting injustice. It is not enough to fight for recognition or representation into a system that systematically seeks to destroy Native peoples and lifeways. Grace Hong brilliantly articulates this critique of "possessive individualism" and acknowledges that "the most basic guarantee of liberal democratic society—life—is not extended evenly or protected universally."19

Native feminisms, in their multiple forms, have sought to interrogate and be "critically sovereign."20 From Paula Gunn Allen, Beth Brant, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Bea Medicine, Leslie Marmon Silko, Joy Harjo, and Lee Maracle's formative works as well as the knowledge that comes from our communities passed down through generations, there has been a push toward unthinking the binaries such as human and unhuman and woman and man, thinking with community, and doing so through the cultural, performative, storytelling, and arts.21

I believe that the CRC posited an intervention into the binary workings of the mainstream feminist movement at the time. Somehow still we find various groups' goals of feminism seen as so divergent, allowing the voices of some to speak over others and letting hierarchies form. Native feminisms mean interrogating all those aspects that keep people in imbalance in the world and not talking across differences; Native feminisms instead perpetuate connections between humans and non-humans with the goal of continued creation and focus on our relationships in our communities and outside of them. Instead of separation, I contend that there is much overlap.

In Native feminists' protection of water, we can see the struggle for reproductive rights, statements against the carceral state, the right to practice our spirituality—basically many of these local struggles are fought for all our lives [End Page 178] and are not done out of self-interests. The fight against the pipeline in Dakota Territory, for instance, does not consist solely of exerting our rights to property but has a spiritual and relational model of responsibility. It is similar to earlier movement Idle No More, led primarily by women and taken up by whole communities and non-Natives as well.22 Like the CRC, it pays attention to how capitalist modes of production have intervened into our lives.

Leanne Simpson speaks about the origination of the title to her book, Islands of Decolonial Love, as stemming from her experience: "I think that Indigenous women are very good at love, despite all of the trauma of colonialism. I started to see Anishinaabe women—whether it's their love of land, culture, Elders, or partners—as little islands of hope, little islands of love. Maybe we don't always get it right, but we get glimpses of love, so the title really seemed to fit."23 I find this supports and carries forth the CRC's first articulation of the value of our affective power: "Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters, and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work." I have love for all these connections that hold us together in struggle for a just world. This holds the most possibility for all our lives and our future generations to live.


Indigenous feminism has a vexed relationship with women of color feminism, one that reflects the complexities of Indigenous politics more broadly. On one hand, Indigenous women share with women of color social places shaped by gender as well as race, and this has manifested in mutual struggles surrounding such issues as economic inequality, multiple registers of social marginalization, higher rates of sexual violence, and reproductive rights (including forced sterilization). On the other hand, Indigenous politics are distinct from that of any other group, and this inevitably influences the project of Indigenous feminism.

What distinguishes Indigenous people from other racialized groups is a history of political autonomy and original occupation of territory. Prior to colonization, Indigenous communities constituted self-governing entities on their own lands, histories that give rise to contemporary legal rights to political self-determination and aboriginal land title. Struggles for these rights remain at the center of Indigenous politics today, including Indigenous feminism. They not only distinguish Indigenous feminism from women of color feminisms, but also they sometimes give rise to conflicts among them (since women of color can also be complicit in the disempowerment and dispossession of Indigenous communities).

But herein lies another complexity. Despite its emphasis on political sovereignty and land rights for tribal communities, Indigenous feminism is by definition [End Page 179] a transnational endeavor—that is, it emerges from histories that transcend borders of individual communities and draws Native women together across boundaries of language, culture, and nation. Its emergence marks a transition in Indigenous politics after the 1960s to emphasize pan-tribal endeavors, sometimes across the borders of colonial nation-states (Red Power and the contemporary transnational Indigenous peoples movement provide other examples). Although Indigenous feminism aims to complement tribal struggles for political autonomy, these projects are sometimes at odds with one another, as when sovereignty serves to justify the diminishment of women's social places, sometimes in the name of maintaining cultural traditions.

Indigenous feminism, then, bears a close but complicated relationship with women of color feminisms, transnational feminism, and Indigenous politics more broadly. It is shaped by conflicts and converges among them, and it therefore involves a project of constant negotiation and reevaluation.


Most of my formal academic training involved traveling between close readings of women of color feminisms including African Feminism/African Gender Studies, African Diaspora feminisms, Native American feminisms, Black feminisms, and the publications of everyone associated with Kitchen Table Press and the upstate New York and East Coast collectives of women of color organizing their world. When I moved to California and began taking graduate seminars with faculty in the Feminist Studies Department at University of California, Santa Barbara, I came to understand the relationships between the way gender was being talked about in African Diaspora Studies and in transnational feminisms.

Women of color feminisms have been an anchoring location for finding affirmation in my work about Black women and for helping me feel free to theorize about the world, the racialized body in imperialism, and race-making as a global phenomenon. Women of color feminisms have at the same time not always been the easiest space for me to study or learn about Black feminisms perhaps out of fearful politeness or my own desire to make sure I gave equal attention to the other feminisms in the room or just a colonized mind.

But despite the contention and struggle, it has been a place that compelled me to ask my questions better. I will give an example. Right now I am writing about Fatima Meer and how she as an Indian South African woman was a pillar of Black feminism in South Africa. I want to know how she did this, what she meant by this, why she published books on Black women workers and I want to speak to the capaciousness and fungibility of Black feminisms at the same time. I need to know about co-optation and solidarity practices that transformed Black women's lives for the better for generations. I want to [End Page 180] know. I would not be foregrounding such a figure without the women of color feminism formation that trained me, taught my work, nurtured me, and gave me space to grow.


I see women of color feminism as an international category and speak of Asian American feminisms always in the plural and at times with an artificial barrier: Asian/American. From Chandra Talpade Mohanty's introduction to the 1991 anthology Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, I derived a definition of women of color coalition based on the awareness of shared precarity.

But the problem with the notion of vulnerability, especially in body, is that it happens to be a stereotype of Asian women. When I was researching Asian American Feminisms in 2012, it became clear that the publisher favored not the planned volumes on activism or coming to consciousness narratives (that was cut) but the studies that testified to the unambiguous hardship of immigrant women's experience: Korean immigrant nail salon workers, Chinese seamstresses in New York's garment industry, Filipinas confronting patriarchy in the home. This scholarship is important. But favoring this representation betrayed certain preconceptions about Asian American women that tend to replicate the division between global North and global South through gender oppression. As Mohanty notes in "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses" (1988), there are "traps" that western scholarship falls into regarding "Third World Women."24

That is, even among feminists, "Asian woman" becomes the incarnation of the voiceless, über-objectified, and hyper-embodied. (Incidentally, this is the reason that, in fantasy, virtual women in need of rescue from [sexual] slavery are always Asian.) This image explains the attraction of "comfort woman" to global activists including feminist groups who, as Laura Kang documents in Traffic in Asian Women, discursively "trafficked" these former prisoners of war for a variety of agendas.25

As an educator, I struggle to understand the uses and abuses of such "typing." For example, I just taught Malala Yousafzai's I Am Malala, subtitled, "The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban" (2013). My US college audience already agrees with the text's central premise: Of course girls should be educated. We have what they lack and they should have it too. But what lessons can we take from global feminism if, explicitly or implicitly, we insist upon our own metric to apply around the world?

Then again, Of course girls should be educated.

Global feminism is education, micro-lending, pacifism, and sovereignty. [End Page 181] In the United States the focus is invariably equal treatment under the law. Women of color feminism, like Asian/American feminism, pushes that horizon. I would like to think of common cause among feminists based not simply on shared precarity but on the ability and will to speak truth to power. Yet for every Malala Yousafzai or Aung San Suu Kyi who inspires, there is a Wendi Deng Murdoch or Amy Chua who simply scares people.

I would like to end with a radical thought inspired by radical women of color: extrapolating from global demographic composites, it turns out that an adult, Asian, Chinese-speaking woman may be the most representative human being on the planet. I know that there is no such thing. But what would it take to reorient all human experience and knowledge from that "most representative" perspective? As Amy Ling said, we're here.

feminist remembrance and feminist futures


In my teaching and thought I argue that women of color queer thought is not an option for those of us who can check the boxes, but part of a powerful critique of knowledge, part of a major intellectual revolution widely unfurled in the sixties and still part of a decolonial project to recover the humanity of both the colonized and the colonizer. At the heart of the people of color innovative, necessary thought, is US women of color thought. Today questions of environmentalism and nonviolence invite us to think beyond the binary approach to reality that patriarchal, radicalizing colonialism and settler colonialism post-Enlightenment thought impose and circulate. There is a wealth of compassionate thought that will get us somewhere good in US women of color feminist thought, because its goal is not nationalist but rather serves humanity and the planet in its most inspiring versions, without neglecting the plight of our different communities in the present.


It is prescient that Frontiers has asked for a statement about Combahee as we find ourselves witnessing this refugee crisis. Combahee affirms that Black women are inherently valuable; the lives of the refugees are inherently valuable. As we have worked with people coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Somalia, and other countries, we have witnessed tremendous dignity, ingenuity, and alliance building. The lessons learned forty years ago have carried us here.

harriford, lin, peterson, thompson:

As we talked about Combahee, it occurred to us that there may not have been any other essay or book in the last forty years that could have garnered such animated conversation [End Page 182] among us. It is both singular in its influence and generative in its presence. We applaud Frontiers for celebrating the Combahee collective: Cessie Alfonso, Cheryl Clarke, Evelynn Hammonds, Demita Frazier, Gloria Akasha Hull, Eleanor Johnson, Audre Lorde, Chirlane McCray, Margo Okazawa Ray, Sharon Page Richie, Barbara Smith, and Beverly Smith.

We would like to thank Frontiers for this call for some reflection on Combahee because it called on us to remember who we are to ourselves and to each other. In these times of thirty-second sound bites and public meanness, it has given us hope to remember that truth and beauty endure. [End Page 183]

Kristen A. Kolenz

kristen a. kolenz is a PhD candidate at the Ohio State University. Her research focuses are Central American social movements, performance studies, and Indigenous studies. She has presented research on performance-based activism in Guatemala at the National Women's Studies Association conference.

Krista L. Benson

krista l. benson is a graduate of OSU's Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program and begins a position as assistant professor of Liberal Studies at Grand Valley State University in fall of 2017. Her research interests are indebted to queer of color critique, critical trans studies, and settler colonial studies to interrogate how the US settler government has justified removal of Native children from family and tribal homes through compulsory education, foster care and adoption, and juvenile justice. She has published in Sexualities and has book chapters forthcoming in Transnational Perspectives of Sexual and Reproductive Rights (Routledge) and Sexuality, Human Rights and Public Policy: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (Farleigh Dickinson University Press).

Leslie Bow

leslie bow is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of the award-winning "Partly Colored": Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South (New York University Press, 2010) and Betrayal and Other Acts of Subversion: Feminism, Sexual Politics, Asian American Women's Literature (Princeton University Press, 2001); and editor of the four-volume Asian American Feminisms (Routledge, 2012) and a reissue of Fiona Cheong's novel The Scent of the Gods (Illinois University Press, 2010). Leslie is a contributor to Progressive magazine and the Progressive Media Project through which her op-ed columns appear in newspapers across the United States. She is currently working on a book that explores race and pleasure in the public sphere, focusing on fantasy and visual culture.

Avtar Brah

avtar brah is professor emerita of sociology at Birkbeck College, University of London. She graduated from the University of California, Davis, and obtained a masters degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She completed her PhD at Bristol University in the UK. She has published widely on questions of culture, identity, politics, race, class, and gender. She is a pioneer in the field of Diaspora Studies. Her book Cartographies of Diaspora generated key debates in this field. Her work is informed by feminist and equality activism. Her publications include the books Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting identities (Routledge); Hybridity and Its Discontents: Politics, Science, Culture (Routledge, co-edited with Annie Coombes); and Thinking Identities: Racism, Ethnicity, Culture and Global Futures: Migration, Environment, and Globalization (Palgrave, co-edited with Mary Hickman and Mairtin Mac an Ghail), and numerous articles. She has been a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Cornell University. She is a member of the Academy of Social Sciences, UK; the Editorial Collective of the journal Feminist Review; and the International Editorial Board of the journal Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power.

Mishuana Goeman

mishuana goeman, Tonawanda Band of Seneca, is an associate professor of Gender Studies, associate director of the American Indian Studies Center, and chair of American Indian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her recent book is Mark My Words: Native Women Mapping Our Nations (University of Minnesota Press). She has published in several peer-reviewed journals and guest edited journal volumes on Native feminisms and on Indigenous performances. Recent book chapters include essays in Theorizing Native Studies, ed. Audra Simpson and Andrea Smith (Duke University Press, 2014), and a chapter in Critically Sovereign: Indigenous Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, ed. Joanne Barker (Duke University Press, 2017). She is also a co-PI on a community-based digital project grant, Mapping Indigenous L.A.

Diane Harriford

diane harriford is professor of sociology and former director of the Women's Studies Program at Vassar College. She is the treasurer of the National Women's Studies Association and is the co-author of The Center Is on Fire: Passionate Social Theory for Our Times.

Shari M. Huhndorf

shari m. huhndorf received her PhD in comparative literature from New York University, and she is currently professor of Native American Studies and chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of two books, Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural Imagination (Cornell University Press, 2001) and Mapping the Americas (Cornell University Press, 2009), and a co-editor of three volumes, including Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture (University of British Columbia Press, 2010), winner of the Canadian Women's Studies Association prize for Outstanding Scholarship. Currently she is working on two book projects: a manuscript tentatively titled Indigeneity and the Politics of Space: Gender, Geography, Culture, and, with Roy Huhndorf, a community history of Indigenous land claims in Alaska.

Analouise Keating

analouise keating is professor of Multicultural Women's and Gender Studies at Texas Woman's University, where she also directs the doctoral program in Multicultural Women's and Gender Studies. Her work focuses on transformational studies, US women of color theories, pedagogy, and womanist spiritual activism. Her most recent book is Transformation Now! Toward a Post-Oppositional Politics of Change; and she is the editor of several of Gloria Anzaldúa's books, including most recently Light in the Dark/Luz en lo oscuro: Rewriting Identity, Spirituality, Reality. She also edits a book series, Transformations: Womanist, Feminist, and Indigenous Studies, at the University of Illinois Press.

Yi-Chun Tricia Lin

yi-chun tricia lin is professor and director of the Women's Studies Program at Southern Connecticut State University. She was the president of the National Women's Studies Association in 2012–14 and is currently working on comparative cultural studies of Indigenous and diasporic women's writing from the Caribbean and Pacific Islands.

Laura Pérez

laura pérez is the author of Chicana Art: The Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities (Duke University Press, 2007). She curated UC Berkeley's first and only US Latina/o Performance Art series in 2001–2; co-curated, with Delilah Montoya, the multimedia exhibition Chicana Badgirls: Las Hociconas at 516 ARTS gallery in Albuquerque, New Mexico (January–March 2009), and curated Labor + a(r)t + orio: Bay Area Latin@ Arts Now at the Richmond Art Center, CA (April–June 2011). She has published in numerous anthologies on feminism, Chicana/o and hemispheric de-colonial cultures, Chicana/o religiosity, journals, and art exhibition catalogs. She has a forthcoming book, Ero-Ideologies: Writings on Art, Spirituality, and the Decolonial (Duke University Press) and is also editing a book on the multimedia artist Consuelo Jimenez Underwood.

Zenaida Peterson

zenaida peterson is a recent graduate of Simmons College, where she studied political science, sociology, and public policy. She was the president of the slam poetry organization that she co-founded and competed with on the collegiate level, making the top ten each year. She earned several awards in college and was the baccalaureate commencement speaker. She taught English in Spain in 2015–16 before visiting the roundtable discussants in Greece. She will be coaching the Simmons slam poet team and doing community organizing this year while applying to PhD programs.

Becky Thompson

becky thompson, poet, activist, and yogi, is the author of several books, including A Promise and a Way of Life: White Anti-Racist Activism; Survivors on the Yoga Mat; and Teaching with Tenderness: Toward an Embodied Practice. She is professor of sociology at Simmons College and is currently co-editing, with Palestinian poet Jehan Bseiso, the poetry anthology Making Mirrors: Righting/Writing by Refugees.

Tiffany Willoughby-Herard

tiffany willoughby-herard, PhD, originally from Detroit, Michigan, is an associate professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine, and an associate professor at the University of South Africa's Institute for Gender Studies. Her books include Waste of a White Skin: The Carnegie Corporation and the Racial Logic of White Vulnerability (University of California Press, 2015) and the edited collection Theories of Blackness: On Life and Death (Cognella, 2011). As the managing editor for the National Political Science Review, the academic refereed journal of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, she is humbled and grateful to work with a dynamic editorial collective. She is the co-editor of the special issue Twenty Years of South African Democracy for African Identities (2014) and the forthcoming issue Challenging the Legacies of Racial Resentment: Black Health Activism, Educational Justice, and Legislative Leadership for the National Political Science Review. She has published in the National Political Science Review, Cultural Dynamics, African Identities, Social Justice, South African Review of Sociology, New Political Science, Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers, and Race and Class. In 2014 she published "Mammy No More/Mammy Forever: The Stakes and Costs of Teaching Our Colleagues" in the anthology The Truly Diverse Faculty: New Dialogues in American Higher Education, ed. Stephanie Fryberg and Ernesto Martinez (Palgrave Macmillan), and in 2008 she published "'The Rape of an Obstinate Woman': Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth" in the anthology Shout Out: Women of Color Respond to Violence, ed. Barbara Ige and Maria Ochoa (Seal Press). She is a new history and social science book review editor for Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies. She is a proud member of the Association for the Study of Black Women in Politics, whose first national meeting she coordinated.


1. To give an example of the enormity of this crisis in Lesvos, approximately 30,000 refugees from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan arrived in February 2016, equivalent to the entire population of Mytilini, the largest city in Lesvos. Lucas Amin, "Lesvos: A Greek Island in Limbo over Tourism, Refugees and Its Future," Guardian, March 24, 2016.

2. "Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, October 16, 2016, This transnational feminist solidarity and struggle is partly documented in Haunani Kay Trask's From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i (University of Hawaii Press, 1999).

3. "For the Next Seven Generations," The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, October 1, 2016, [End Page 186]

4. "Combahee" was written in April 1977 and first published as "A Black Feminist Statement," in Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism ed. Zillah Eisenstein (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1978), 210–18, 215, before being published in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, ed. Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa (New York: Kitchen Table Press, 1981).

5. Kate Rushin is a beloved US poet and recipient of the Grolier Poetry Prize. Elly Bulkin is a founder of two prominent multiracial feminist journals, Conditions and Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends. Mab Segrest is a US feminist writer and activist whose books include My Mama's Dead Squirrel (1988) and Born to Belonging: Writings on Spirit and Justice (2002). Ruth First was a South African anti-apartheid activist who was assassinated in Mozambique. Naomi Jaffe is an antiracist activist and executive director of Holding Our Own: A Multiracial Foundation for Women. Anne Braden was a US civil rights activist and author of The Wall Between (1959).

6. See for example, Carole Pateman's The Sexual Contract (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988); Catharine A MacKinnon's "Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State: An Agenda for Theory," Signs 7.3 (Spring, 1982): 515–44; and Nancy Chodorow's "Family Structure and Feminine Personality," in Woman, Culture and Society, ed. Michelle Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1974) 43–66.

7. For critiques of limited versions of intersectionality, see Jasbir Puar, "'I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess': Intersectionality, Assemblage, and Affective Politics," (accessed August 5, 2016); and AnaLouise Keating, Transformation Now! Toward a Post-Oppositional Politics of Change (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013).

8. Donna Haraway, "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective," Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1988): 575–99, and Joan W. Scott, "Experience," in Feminists Theorize the Political, ed. Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott (New York: Routledge, 1992), 22–40.

9. Janice Gould, "The Problem of Being 'Indian': One Mixed Blood's Dilemma," in Decolonizing the Subject: the Politics of Gender in Women's Autobiography, ed. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992), 81–87.

10. Manifesto for Abolition, Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics,, September 17, 2017; Jasmine Syedullah, Impositions of a Slave Girl Abolitionism: A Political Theory of Harriet Jacobs's Praxis of Emancipation," PhD diss., Department of Political Science, University of Santa Cruz, 2014.

11. On the health project, see Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross, and Elena R. Gutiérrez, "Founding the National Black Women's Health Project: A New Concept in Health," in Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice [End Page 187] (Boston: South End Press, 2004), 63–86. On experimentation, see Harriet Washington, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, reprint edition (Norwell, MA: Anchor Press, 2008); Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People, reprint edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011).

12. Adrien Katherine Wing, Critical Race Feminism: A Reader (New York: New York University Press, 1997); Adrien Katherine Wing, Global Critical Race Feminism: An International Reader (New York: New York University Press, 2000).

13. Linda Burnham, "The Wellspring of Black Feminist Theory," Working Paper Series, no. 1 (Oakland, CA: Women of Color Resource Center, 2001), 1–11, the Women of Color Resource Center in 1990 and was its executive director for eighteen years. She is currently the research director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Her organizing in the Third World Women's Alliance was pivotal for launching sustained conversations that linked women of color activists in the Americas to those all over the world through shared ideas about decolonization, an end to militarism, and anti-imperialism.

14. For early black British feminist writings see especially Beverly Bryan, Stella Dadzie, and Suzanne Scafe, The Heart of the Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain (London: Virago, 1985); Avtar Brah, Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities (London: Routledge, 1996); Shabnam Grewal, Jackie Kay, Liliane Landor, Gail Lewis, and Pratibha Parmar, Charting the Journey: Writings by Black and Third World Women (London: Sheba, 1988); "Many Voices and One Chant: Black Feminist Perspectives," Feminist Review 17 (1984); Heidi Safia Mirza, Black British Feminism: A Reader (London: Routledge, 1997); Amrit Wilson, Finding a Voice: Asian Women in Britain (London: Virago, 1978).

15. See especially Gloria Anzaldúa, "La Prieta," in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, ed. Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa (New York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, 1983) 198–209; Anzaldúa, "El Mundo Zurdo: The Vision," in This Bridge Called My Back, Light in the Dark/Luz en lo oscuro: Rewriting Identity, Reality, Spirituality, ed. AnaLouise Keating (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015); Chela Sandoval, Methodology of the Oppressed (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000); Sandoval, "U.S. Third World Feminism: The Theory and Method of Oppositional Consciousness in the Postmodern World," Genders 10 (Spring 1991): 1–25.

16. While Anzaldúa did not coin the term spiritual activism, she introduced it into feminist thought and academic women's and gender studies. For a longer discussion of Anzaldúan spiritual activism, see Keating, "'I'm a citizen of the universe': Gloria Anzaldúa's Spiritual Activism as Catalyst for Social Change," Feminist Studies 34 (2008): 53–69. [End Page 188]

17. Sandoval, Methodology, 196.

18. Layli Phillips, "Womanism: On Its Own," in The Womanist Reader, ed. Layli Phillips (New York: Routledge, 2007), xix–liv, xvi–xvii.

19. Grace Hong, Ruptures of American Capital: Women of Color Feminisms and Culture of Immigrant Labor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006).

20. Critically sovereign is defined throughout the volume edited by Joanne Barker who states "In their analyses, the contributors represent how critical sovereignty and self-determination are to Indigenous peoples but as well the importance of a critical address to the politics of gender, sexuality, and feminism within how that sovereignty and self-determination is imagined, represented, and exercised." Joanne Barker, Critically Sovereign: Indigenous Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017), 3.

21. Paula Gunn Allen, The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992); Beth Brant, Food and Spirits: Stories (Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1991); Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, A Separate Country: Post-coloniality and American Indian Nations (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2012); Joy Harjo and Gloria Bird, Reinventing the Enemy's Language: Contemporary Native Women's Writing of North America (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997); Lee Maracle, I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism (Vancouver, BC: Press Gang Publishers, 1996); Beatrice Medicine and Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Learning to Be an Anthropologist and Remaining "Native": Selected Writings (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001); Leslie Marmon Silko, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit: Essays on Native American Life Today (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996); and many others are in my feminist formations that I do not have the room to note.

22. The Kino-nda-niimi Collective, ed., The Winter We Danced: Voices from the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement (Winnipeg, Manitoba: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2014).

23. Jamaias DaCosta, "Oceans of Love for Leanne Simpson's 'Islands of Decolonial Love,'"

24. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses," Feminist Review, no. 30 (Autumn 1988): 61–88.

25. Laura Kang, Traffic in Asian Women, forthcoming, Duke University Press. [End Page 189]

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