As this issue goes to press, spring 2018, the world continues to be consumed with political make-ups and breakdowns (North and South Korea and US talks); fear of “immigrant caravans” and “border flooding”; and sexual harassment (#metoo). Thus it was interesting to reflect on the art and essays in this issue, which were created before now but feel so vital and relevant for the future. The cover artwork, produced in 1990, remains a prescient depiction, and the essays are right on cue for present day headlines, discussing issues of immigration, harassment beyond the #metoo movement, Koreagate, activism, and resistance. Each essay provides analysis of colonial mechanisms of power and women’s bodies—whether bodies as blockades; bodies marked as classed, raced, immigrant, nationalized, sexualized, infectious; or the mattering of sleep, hair, sex. In addition, several essays look at the use of media platforms, a timely analysis in an era of “fake news” and uses of social media that yield high influence on attitudes, beliefs, and policy.
To begin, Shelley Sang-Hee Lee’s essay on 1970s Koreagate provides context for present day international relations. As the author states, “political lessons from the 1970s are relevant once again” and demonstrate the “insidious ways that racism and sexism have shaped US relations with certain countries.” Khanum Shaikh’s essay continues a close analysis of the intersections of gender and nationalism, focusing on how the “war on terror” created an optics shaping representations of Afiya Siddiqui, a Muslim woman of Pakistani origin living in the United States. Shaikh demonstrates how “contradictory claims . . . validated by differently vested interests” through both US and Pakistan representations also include “thick silences” dominated by patriarchy.
Gale P. Jackson’s poems provide an embodied lens to pause and reflect, which moves us into Laura Harrison’s essay “What’s Best for Baby?” a critical examination of how “safe sleep” campaigns reproduce raced, classed deficit thought, reinforcing surveillance of certain families. Harrison’s work reminds [End Page vii] us that sleeping—how we sleep, where, with whom, and why—is a feminist issue. Taking up identity debates, M. M. Adjarian argues for a re-reading of Monique Wittig’s work, which the author argues has been misread. Wittig, Adjarian argues, provides potential to transform “lesbian” to a “boundary-defying signification” and thus reject a Western “dualistic gender and concept system” at the heart of other oppressive systems.
The last set of essays develop a focus on embodiment, activism, and resistance. Andrea Elizabeth Milne’s essay on female patient experiences and activism at Carville leprosy hospital is an excellent reminder that within institutionalized spaces, voice and agency are simultaneously occurring. Milne’s methodological approach is insightful, and the essay highlights why institutional sites are vitally important to study. Similarly, Daphne Jeyapal traces the social political spaces of activism through how gender and race continued to shape virtual space understandings of the 2009 Mother’s Day occupation of a six-lane expressway in Toronto. Jeyapal offers critical contributions to re-thinking how to analyze such media and challenges to how we think about transnational feminist activism.
Yurika Tamura continues focus on the relations between gender and nationalization, discussing two young women, two daughters of undocumented immigrants in Japan, who each cut their hair short and became very different symbols of good daughter and good immigrant. Reading hair, daughters, immigrant status, and nationalism, Tamura links how hair became part of a national discourse about immigration in Japan, raising provocative questions about gender, femininity, status, and feminist theory. Deena Varner continues a complex, close reading of bodies, analyzing what is beyond “sex scandals” within the prison industrial complex. While not denying sexual violence, Varner reminds readers that prisons also operate with sexual labor and sexual pleasure. Rethinking the gendered racialized space-time of women’s prisons as including prisoners and all prison staff, Varner suggests that prisons are “communitas of hustle,” a reconceptualization that interrupts static penal logics and questions why women having sex is the scandal in the media.
So readers, take up these provocations as we continue to remember, live, and transform. For...