WSQ Call for Papers: Solidarity

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WSQ (Women's Studies Quarterly)

Call for Papers
WSQ Special Issue Fall 2014: Solidarity
Guest Editors – Shefali Chandra and Saadia Toor

Solidarity, the act or expression of unity in the face of power, has been on the resurgence. The vast reach of neoliberal globalization and the ravages of an unending global war have engendered new communities of political, moral and economic interests that reach across national, class and racial lines. At the same time, issues of intersectionality have resurfaced to challenge solidarity politics in new and complex ways. Sometimes the various calls to solidarity actually undercut each other while strengthening the very axis of power. In fact, it would not be far-fetched to say that solidarity itself has become a crucial battleground of political and ideological struggle today.

As concept and practice, solidarity has had a left-wing provenance from its very origins. Conceived against the backdrop of revolutionary France, it continues to stand for something more radical than the critique of authority: implicit in its history is a desire to confront social justice, and an understanding that this can only be done by joining forces and making alliances across often painful social divisions.

Despite this history, solidarity has also always been and remains an open-ended concept. At the most basic level, it implies a community based on mutual responsibility of each member toward the other, and a moral obligation to fight for the welfare of other members and of the community as a whole. What is, or should be, the basis of the community to which solidarity is owed? Is this community based on identity? On shared experience? Shared interests? These questions have periodically surfaced and been answered differently in each instance. The question of goal(s) – the end(s) to which the solidarity is to be oriented – is also left open, although the sense that it is some form of social justice, broadly conceived, continues to cling to the concept.

These issues have become even more complex in the age of neoliberalism. Since the 1990s, the global circulation of neoliberal ideas of selfhood and individual rights, combined with the real-time circulation of news through the 24-hour news cycle, the multiplicity of news sources, the expansive reach of Internet activism, and the absence of a strong international(ist) Left politics, have combined to render the idea and practice of solidarity – once the bedrock of left internationalism – fraught, to say the least.

Witness the deployment of Muslim women and queers as subjects of a new kind of international solidarity – a solidarity which sides with rather than counters the imperial will to power. Left-liberal concern for Afghan/Muslim women – masquerading as solidarity with them – continues to underwrite imperialist aggression across the world. The Israeli state's strategy of 'pinkwashing' is another paradigmatic example of how wills-to-power can be enabled through a politics of international solidarity, and how a purportedly progressive solidarity campaign (international queer solidarity against a supposedly homophobic community of Palestinians/'Muslims') can be specifically designed to undermine solidarity with a people under colonial occupation.

Despite these challenges, it is clear that genuine transnational solidarity both exists and cannot be foreclosed. The very technological advancements in communications that allow for the creation and expression of (neo) liberal solidarities are also enabling more progressive forms of solidarity to germinate and proliferate. The work of groups such as Queers Against Apartheid and Via Campesina offer up a more hopeful side of solidarity politics today. Queer Palestinian BDS activism interrupts efforts at Israeli pinkwashing. The mutual solidarity that was on display between those activists fighting to protect collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and those fighting for democracy in Tahrir Square was based on a sophisticated understanding of the deep structural connections between both struggles. The 'solidarity pizzas' bought for Wisconsin activists by their new comrades in Egypt are noteworthy not simply because they were a heartwarming expression of this solidarity, but because they reflected the ways in which the internet and social media can help create progressive solidarity communities.

However, this still begs several questions: how can such radical progressive solidarity be secured today? How is it being expressed in struggle, and how is it being struggled over?

It is against this complicated and dynamic context that we invite engagements – academic and artistic, in prose and poetic form – with the idea and practice of solidarity. We seek works that highlight innovative acts of solidarity past and present, and critically examine the technologies, economies, social networks, structures of power, and cultural presumptions that enable(ed) – or interrupt(ed) – the possibility, production, articulation and expression of various forms of solidarity across the world.

Possible themes/topics include (but are not limited to):

• Internet/social-media activism and the politics of location

• Internet-based solidarity work in the context of the digital divide

• The non-profit industrial complex and neoliberal forms of solidarity

• Feminist solidarity in a time of war

• The challenge of intersectionality

• Connections between the anti-apartheid movements in South Africa and Palestine

• The challenges of organizing in a digital age

• The global circulation of images and the issue of re-presentation

• Solidarity and the politics of affect/emotion

• Theorizing solidarity under globalization

• The gender of solidarity

• Solidarity and the state

• 'Solidarity' versus the politics of 'rescue'

• Solidarity economies and history of capital

If submitting academic work, please send articles by October 1, 2013 to the guest editors, Saadia Toor and Shefali Chandra, at Please send complete articles, not abstracts. Submissions should not exceed 6,000 words (including un-embedded notes and works cited) and should comply with the formatting guidelines at

Poetry submissions should be sent to WSQ's poetry editor, Kathleen Ossip, at by October 1, 2013. Please review previous issues of WSQ to see what type of submissions we prefer before submitting poems. Please note that poetry submissions may be held for six months or longer. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable if the poetry editor is notified immediately of acceptance elsewhere. We do not accept work that has been previously published. Please paste poetry submissions into the body of the e-mail along with all contact information.

Fiction, essay, and memoir submissions should be sent to WSQ's fiction/nonfiction editor, Nicole Cooley, at by October 1, 2013. Please review previous issues of WSQ to see what type of submissions we prefer before submitting prose. Please note that prose submissions may be held for six months or longer. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable if the prose editor is notified immediately of acceptance elsewhere. We do not accept work that has been previously published. Please provide all contact information in the body of the e-mail.

Art submissions should be sent to Margot Bouman at by October 1, 2013. Art that has been reviewed and accepted must of 300 DPI or greater, saved as 4.25 inches wide or larger. These files should be saved as individual JPEGS or TIFFS.