Reintroducing Feminist Intellectual Traditions
This volume intends to offer a systematic re-introduction to feminism’s intellectual legacy.
We encourage an ampler view of feminist theory which extends beyond its production in
the global North and beyond the problematics of location, with the North/South dichotomy
often resulting not only in oppositional notions of agency (active agents vs silent victims)
but also in competing for cultural interests (civil rights and queer theory vs decolonization,
economic justice, and disarmament). One of the aims in reintroducing feminist intellectual
traditions from the perspective of their multiple strands across the globe is to reflect, in as
diversified a manner as possible, on feminism’s instituting power, especially on the work
of the academy (e.g. the conference on National Development at Wellesley in the mid-1970s)
and of global institutions (e.g. the UN and its conferences, culminating perhaps in
Beijing).The other aim is to bring feminist intellectual traditions, revised and re-narrated
from the point of view of our altered present, into conversation with the current renewal of
a shared philosophical lexicon (person, community, life) beyond the unevenness of cultures,
with the interrogation of a method in the Humanities, and with new visions of language,
meaning, and texts in literary studies.
As the name for a political project of emancipation, feminism has been on the wane,
its intellectual legacy widely contested. On the one hand, feminism has expanded
internationally and grown in diversity; on the other hand, it remains mostly Western in
character and orientation. There are a number of reasons for this inertia, foremost among
them feminism’s complex allegiance to a theoretical tradition that has invested in a unified
collective subject (women). After its post-gender inflections, this tradition still struggles to
forge effective tools for the representation of experiential forms of knowledge entangled
with what Indrepal Grewal and Caren Kaplan call invisible “scattered hegemonies” that
keep structures of exclusion intact.
Transnational feminism arose to address overlooked asymmetries in the process of
globalization and underlying structural inequalities linked to the exertion of power through
exclusion. It has shifted the emphasis from a “global sisterhood” (Robin Morgan), with its
implied orientalism, to the intricacies of “location,” extending the temporalities of conflict
between cultures, languages, and configurations of meaning (Chandra. Mohanty) to race,
caste and class-based differences, sexualities, and the material relations that directly impact
women’s ordinary lives. While the result has been a greater appreciation of the sociological
and cultural implications of the diversity of women’s issues -- the worldwide struggle
against gender-based discrimination, inequalities, political violence, and laws that create
and perpetuate social injustices, the trafficking of women, female infanticide/ sex-selective
abortion, sexual slavery, surrogacy, and reproductive rights, economic inequalities,
immigration, displacement, and human rights, to name just a few -- the current resurgence
of local nationalisms and the international wave of populism suggest that a more thorough
critical assessment of feminism’s intellectual legacy might be needed for women’s lives to
be considered the subject of feminism rather than regress to epistemological marginalia.
Feminist intellectual traditions are alive but latent in contemporary critical reflection.
Just as the transnational relocation of feminism has moved to center stage women’s lives as
emblematic forms of life always in relation and in tension with their context, theory after
poststructuralism has assumed the notion of life as its own semantic horizon,
understanding life neither in solely metaphysical nor solely biological terms but always “in
relation and in tension with the categories of history and of politics” (Roberto Esposito).
What is the contribution of women’s lives to this new theoretical reorientation? Moreover,
as desire and hunger for eudaimonia are acknowledged as an empirical dimension of bios,
how might we think women’s lives from the perspective of women’s share in life as the
“mechanism of drives in the movement toward self-realization” (Laura Bazzicalupo)? What
does it mean to assume women’s lives as the subject of a field? How has the notion of
women’s lives changed after the critique of the community? How has it changed after the new
reproductive technologies? The coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated such questions
by thrusting into relief a longstanding feminist issue: the body as a site of social vulnerability
and of knowledge. What is the potential of the notion of women’s lives in a landscape of
vulnerability where all lives are vulnerable? What intellectual tools have been forged since
transnationalism and how might newer forms of representation illuminate the unsayable?
We invite chapter proposals from scholars worldwide and from all disciplines. We
encourage contributions from researchers who usually publish in languages other than
English; translation will be provided. Possible themes include but are not limited to the
Feminism’s instituting powers (e.g. UN Conferences, Institutes for Women’s
Leadership, Institutes for Research on Women)
- Intellectual horizons of transnational feminisms
- Recomposing the Humanities: Feminism and the debate on method
- Feminist genealogies, alternative lines of reflection, vital texts
- Life, speech, and psychoanalysis
- Life and new reproductive technologies
- Feminism and Modernity
- What is work?
- Remembering class, on a larger scale
- Transgenerational effects
- Trauma discourse
- Environments, activism/justice, media
- Sexualities and transgender sexualities
- New masculinities
- Rethinking intersectionality and inclusivity
- Science, reality, wonder
Women and religion (e.g. faith and the struggle for recognition; faith and women’s
- Feminist philosophy and the disciplines
Proposals: 300 words abstract and a brief biography by 5 December 2020.
Acceptance of the contribution will be notified in early 23 January 2021.
All submissions will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis.
Editors: Mena Mitrano (Ca’ Foscari University Venice, Italy) and Rajni Singh (Indian
Institute of Technology Dhanbad, India)