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  • Editors' Introduction
  • Alexandra M. Hill (bio) and Waltraud Maierhofer (bio)

As we write this introduction in the fall of 2018, we reflect on the troubled and troubling political climate in the United States, German-speaking countries, and across the globe.1 Numerous issues trouble those of us reading the news with an eye to social justice: reproductive rights and immigration top the list (more below), joined with the rise of right-wing populist parties that embrace intolerance and self-interest. Yet the Coalition of Women in German was founded on principles of solidarity and mutual support, and it is precisely this lack of empathy that is anathema to us. Even in the direst of situations, there is, to borrow the term from Rebecca Solnit, "hope in the dark";2 people are coming together and fighting for each other, fighting for justice.

The issue of reproductive rights is exemplary of this fight. In the United States, legislation in individual states has led to the rolling back of women's reproductive rights, a trend that is expected to continue now that President Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, has been sworn in as a replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy.3 In Germany, OB/GYN Dr. Kristina Hänel faced a fine for including information on her website about abortions, violating paragraph 219a StGB (implemented in the Nazi era) that prohibits doctors from advertising that they perform abortions. In October her appeal was dismissed. Women in Poland gathered together in March to protest a proposed law that would further restrict access to abortion, and activists are currently seeking support from European institutions to put pressure on the Polish government in response to this law (Embling). In South Korea the Constitutional Court will review the ban on abortion, thanks to the hundreds of thousands of South Koreans who signed online petitions and participated in protests. And in Ireland in May, the legalization of abortion up to twelve weeks was approved by 66.4 percent of voters.

Migration is one of the most urgently debated issues worldwide in [End Page xiii] 2018, the urgency coming from the desperate need of those trying to enter the United States across the Mexican border or into the European Union across the Mediterranean. Due to overwhelming popular and political pressure, President Trump has suspended the practice of separating children from their parents when they cross the US-Mexico border illegally, and his administration has begun reuniting these children with their parents, although this process is far from complete. While this may address the heinous cruelty to these children, this step in no way addresses the larger issues of why so many attempt to enter the United States (e.g., fleeing economic hardship or violence) and how this country is morally obligated to help those in need. At the same time, twenty-seven EU leaders met in Brussels in June for a summit on migration policy, reaching the agreement that refugees to Europe first would be received in "control centers" where their migration status would be determined (e.g., economic migrant vs. refugee status), and then those seeking asylum would be distributed among EU member states willing to take them in. Built into the agreement is the intention to tighten the external EU border—an approach that speaks to the populist, nationalist backlash in Europe and elsewhere. The fear of the permeability of perceived borders (between nations, between religions, between cultures, between self and Other, between opportunity and lack) has given rise to the Trump presidency, the Alternative für Deutschland party, and the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs. These tensions mount as war and violence, radical financial inequality, and climate change increase the number of migrant people (and species) across the globe.

"We—all of us on Terra—live in disturbing times, mixed-up times, troubling and turbid times," writes Donna Haraway in Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. While it can be overwhelming to identify and perceive the extent of the problems facing both the human and non-human on our planet, we must not look away. Nor may we delude ourselves by painting an overly optimistic vision of the future. Instead...


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