Kathryn Sophia Belle @ Goldsmiths CPCT

1949: A Debate Between Claudia Jones and Simone de Beauvoir – a lecture by Kathryn Sophia Belle


Thursday 4 October 2018

Room RHB 256

Goldsmiths, University of London

New Cross SE14 6NW

I am very excited that Kathryn Sophia Belle is speaking at the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go due to teaching commitments (which involve using her work), but I hope that some of you can go!

Here is some info from the CPCT website (as Belle has pointed out on Twitter, the cover image does make for a poignant/disturbing juxtaposition):

Kathryn Sophia Belle (formerly known as Kathryn T. Gines), is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question (Indiana UP, 2014) and the co-editor (with Donna-Dale L. Marcano and Maria del Guadalupe Davidson) of Convergences: Black Feminism and Continental Philosophy (SUNY, 2010) and a founder of the journal Critical Philosophy of Race. She is the founding director of the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers.

“This paper puts Claudia Jones (“An End to the Neglect of the Problems of Negro Women!”) in conversation with Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex). It pays particular attention to Jones’ intersectional analysis (of Black women’s experiences as simultaneously raced, classed, and gendered), juxtaposing it to de Beauvoir’s analogical approach (analysing gender oppression as analogous with racial oppression).”

This event is co-sponsored by the Centre for Feminist Research.

All welcome!


Workshop: “Weathering as Intersectional Feminist Praxis” @ Goldsmiths

Feminist Review

Readers might be interested in this upcoming workshop, connected to the Feminist Review Environment Special Issues, in which I also have an article.

via Yasmin Gunaratnam/Feminist Review

In conjunction with the publication of Feminist Review Issue 118 – Environment, we are pleased to co-host a workshop with the Centre for Feminist Research (Goldsmiths) on the theme of environmental humanities and feminism with Astrida Neimanis* at Goldsmiths on Wednesday 24th October 2018, 2-5 pm.

The workshop will explicitly take up the concept of “weathering” as an embodied engagement with climate change. Through discussion, writing, reflection, and interactive exercises, we will examine how weathering is a more-than-meteorological process in which lineaments of power entangle ecological, social, and political worlds. We invite applications from postgraduate students, early career scholars, activists and artists who are interested in participating in this inter-active workshop.

Please send a short statement (250-300 words) outlining your areas of work and how it would benefit from participation in the workshop to Astrida at astrida.neimanis@sydney.edu.au by 1 October 2018. Participants will be asked to read “Weathering” (Neimanis and Hamilton, feminist review 118 [2018]: 80-84) as advance preparation.

The workshop will be followed by a public talk by Astrida Neimanis: Naming without Claiming? Citation Practices and Feminist Foundations in Environmental Humanities

Discussant Kathryn Yusoff** (Geography, Queen Mary, London)

From the nature/culture binary to the notion of situated knowledges, feminist conceptual labours are arguably foundational to contemporary environmental humanities scholarship. Yet, while names like Donna Haraway and Val Plumwood may make their way into bibliographies, most field-defining texts in environmental humanities do not consider how the feminism of such thinkers is integral to their concepts. Based on research conducted with Jennifer Mae Hamilton, this talk considers the stakes of naming feminist figures without claiming their feminist commitments in the process of field formation; it concludes by suggesting how an explicitly feminist environmental humanities might be enacted.

*Astrida Neimanis is a Senior Lecturer in Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, on Gadigal Country, in Australia. She is Associate Editor of Environmental Humanities, and together with Jennifer Mae Hamilton, coordinates the COMPOSTING feminisms and environmental humanities research group. Her recent book is Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology (2017).

**Kathryn Yusoff is Professor of Inhuman Geography at Queen Mary (University of London). Her work is centred on dynamic earth events such as abrupt climate change, biodiversity loss and extinction. She is interested in how these “earth revolutions” impact social thought. Broadly, her work has focused on political aesthetics, social theory and abrupt environmental change.

Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism and the Matter of Gender by Angela Last & Anja Kanngieser

Image: Sign at Vinyl Deptford by Friction Shifter, photographed at Electronik Netwerk.

I frequently get asked how, as someone whose theoretical interests originally emerged from physics, I came to write about race and gender. The answer is that, for me, race and gender are also material issues that not only manifest in material practices (e.g. gender performance, racism), but permeate all levels of matter from the molecular (e.g. what illnesses are being treated, how they get made sense of and come to matter as pathology, what chemicals different genders put out into the environment) to the global (geopolitical divisions, contribution to/ exposure to climate change). As variants of environmental determinism continue to appear in discussions around race and gender, it is more than ever important to look critically at the material claims that are being made. In this blog post, I am looking at this issue with Australian trans political geographer Anja Kanngieser.

This particular post is prompted by recent trans-phobic events at the London Anarchist Bookfair, which we did not personally attend, but which have been widely exposed and debated on social media. It is written while in Australia, LGBTQ people are having their right to marriage and the legal access it affords decided through national vote. It is also prompted by recent and very public verbal and physical attacks on transgender friends, whether this was by unknown people in the street or by their former partners. Such attacks are particularly infuriating when they come from people who claim to act against gendered oppression: radical feminists. So what problems could a feminist possibly have with transwomen and men, and with other non-heteronormative gender constructions? Here is an example of leaflets that were distributed and apparently put up in the toilets at the London Anarchist Bookfair:

Image sources: Luftmensch and Joff

What we have here is a perceived threat to both social/legal status and biology (which despite conservative arguments to the contrary, is itself a mutable and historical category). This is about the ‘protection’ of biological sex and homonormative sexuality. Such claims base themselves on the uniqueness of biological female experience and related literature (e.g. Luce Irigaray) and the exclusive role of women at the receiving end of male violence. As, according to this logic, biology determines and fixes oppression, there is no way out of oppression other than segregation. Men are essential perpetrators, women are essential victims, and the advocates of this position find ample support in gendered crime statistics. Following this argument, transwomen will by default import their oppressive tendencies, and transmen are simply traitors who have ‘gone over to the other side’ instead of fighting the patriarchy from the position of the oppressed. Thus it was suggested that the prevention of the distribution of these leaflets would in fact benefit men.

What is especially dangerous about the events that took place at the London Anarchist Bookfair is precisely the way in which such essentialist segregations stop the recognition of the violence faced by transwomen through hetero and homonormative practices. Transwomen, especially transwomen of colour (an intersection utterly ignored by the pamphlets and the later defence thereof), are especially vulnerable to gender based violence. The arguments used to ignite fear of transwomen miss the fact that transwomen are in no way exempt from the violence that ciswomen face (‘cis’ means when gender identity matches that assigned at birth), often compounded by the fact that they experience it in both mixed gender and womens spaces. Arguments made by trans exclusionary feminists that ‘pre-op’ transwomen have the biological capacity to rape or enact physical violence neglect that rape is not conditional on fleshy appendages. Transwomen do not inhabit the world as men, they are not afforded the safety of men any more than ciswomen are.

The arguments being made by trans exclusionary feminists are, as stated, ones of biological determinism. They are founded on claims that if we include transwomen into the category of woman then there is nothing left to distinguish women as a ‘class’ from men. Cis women, as the claim goes, due to their unique reproductive capacities, their unique physical matter (made up of hormones, sex organs and biological processes) have been interpellated by capital in specific ways, to perform very specific social, emotional, and physical functions, which enable a collective subjectivity (a subjectivity that is both critiqued and upheld). While some of these functions may have changed over time, this is still the fundamental work of woman. Where this leaves women who choose not to procreate, who choose to deviate from the domestic path, intersex peoples, transwomen, and women whose reproductive capacities have been curtailed or removed due to biology and illness, is unclear. It is also unclear how such positions take into account traditions and existences of sex and gender beyond the narrow, white, western lens, which recognises only male and female subjects in binary. The argument for woman as a child bearing biological subject forgets that the male/ female distinction is an imposed scientific one, one that is not in any way fixed or innate (outside of scientific rationalism) but rather lies on a spectrum.

Trans-activist Jake Graf speaking at “Invisible Outlaws: Lesbian, Bi and Trans Voices” at The Bedford, Balham. Left to right: Jake Graf, Stella Duffy, Sophia Blackwell, Joelle Taylor, Olumide Popoola. Image source: Laura Macdougall

This biological basis for subjectivity was picked up at a recent event called “Invisible Outlaws: Lesbian, Bi and Trans Voices”, organised by poet Sophia Blackwell to highlight the absence of LBT+ in discussions of LGBT+ issues (one could also have added intersex and other non-hetero/homo-normative identities). Trans-activist Jake Graf spoke about the difficulties that trans people face not just in heterosexual environments, but also in homosexual ones. Having started off in the lesbian scene, his transition to male prompted hostility and eventual exclusion. Although he also gave some positive examples of gays and lesbians ‘adopting’ trans people into their community, there was a strong sense that this was not a given. This comes as a particular shock, as one expects fellow non-heteronomative people to bond over mutual exclusion and not to further perpetuate it.

The remaining panel proceeded to take on the question of essentialism, both in gender and sexual identity. What was fantastic about the discussion was the sense of gender and sexuality as a continuous unlearning process of engrained heteronormativity. Lesbian ‘cultural terrorist’ Joelle Taylor, in particular, spoke of her school outreach work as a mutual learning process: the young people she encountered had a different language, different identities that she didn’t experience as alienating, but hopeful. Stella Duffy spoke about discovering other gender possibilities through Pacific Islander culture in a rural, but multi-cultural New Zealand community. Nigerian-German writer Olumide Popoola contributed further thoughts on the intersection of misogyny, homophobia and transphobia with another form of essentialism: racism.

At the moment, this policing of essential materiality painfully intersects in current right wing movements, which in the past and present haven’t been the exclusive preserve of white heterosexuals but have been co-driven by xenophobic male and female homosexuals (and even people of colour), despite the hatred they face from fellow members. The overall message seems to be: ‘we want boundaries to stay in place’, and those boundaries, whether geographical or biological, and their social consequences, are again taken as given.

What needs to be emphasised here as well is that these kinds of arguments against the inclusion of trans peoples into political spaces – regardless of direction – are not new. Trans peoples have always struggled for their legitimacy in both straight and queer spaces. While supporters of the anti-trans pamphlet and its circulation argue that anarchism must support a diversity of positions, and that it is almost impossible to ensure that an event with the magnitude of the London Anarchist Bookfair remains inclusive, at the heart of this situation is the recognition of transwomen and men as valid, of their right to be safe as valid.

The 2017 UK Gender Recognition Act, trans exclusionary feminists argue, will let dangerous men pretend to be women, to enter women’s spaces and access hard won and precarious women’s services. This is a throwback to a feminist position that is as regressive as it is damaging. The decision and the necessity to transition, medically or not, is not an easy one. It is not simply deciding to be something else for a day; it is not a man donning a dress for fun, or a woman donning a tie to work. Trans people, especially BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Colour) trans women and men, are not applauded or uplifted. Rather to the contrary, as this situation evidences, transness is conflated with strangeness and threat, which is why so many trans people are too afraid to come out, and end up living their lives away from the mainstream, or as happens with sickening frequency, take their own lives or are killed by others.

By framing transness as a biological anomaly, a fake or fiction, trans exclusionary feminism commits itself to reductive paradigms that not only repeat ideologies and fears that are categorically conservative and ultimately life threatening to trans people, but also perpetuate divisions between possible political allies. Given the determinist framing of the ‘feminist’ arguments against trans rights, such positions become virtually indistinguishable from fascist and hetero-patriarchal ones. The ‘feminist’ insistence on the superiority of female biology, combined with the essential social inferiority based on this fixed biology, places women exactly where they have been imagined to be (depending on where you live) for way too long.

Further, as illustrated in the previous post on the #metoo campaign, such attitudes prevent crucial alliances that could challenge heteronormative practices. For ciswomen to align with transwomen or men (and also gay men) is not going to further diminish their power, but increase attention to the seduction and social toxicity of normativity. We are all at the receiving end of gender-policing violence, including physical attacks, cuts to services and denial of self-determination. Regarding the events at the London Anarchist Bookfair, rather than merely giving lip service to trans inclusiveness while backhandedly supporting the isolation and exclusion of trans peoples from anarchist spaces in always evolving ways, this is something that intersectional anarchists need to address once and for all.

In other spaces, particularly those espousing well-intentioned affirmations of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’, this kind of work is also overdue. Too often, discussions of essentialism are sidestepped due to the topic’s ideological and political baggage, and, in many cases, essentialisms and related transphobia are simply wished away through denial. A first step might be to admit that it is hard for everyone to unlearn heteronormativity and essentialist thinking – after all, everything is set up to accommodate their performance, down to the philosophies of our languages. However, once we have arrived at this recognition, we need to commit to working towards undoing this ever-present form of violence. And this includes identifying old deceptions within our supposedly progressive politics.






I/object: On the #metoo campaign

When the #metoo campaign started to spread all across Facebook, I was not going to participate. I empathise with the argument that there is only ever a massive outcry when violence happens to white women, plus I really don’t like taking on the victim role that women are raised to occupy. I could have written about things like homophobic violence, various incidents on night bus journeys, or having to go to the police station as a primary school kid to help identify a sex offender that I walked into on the way home from primary school. In the latter case, I remember being presented with a photo archive of male sex offenders so huge that it seemed like this was just a normal thing that men do.

I also did not write about this and other things, because I thought the scale of the problem was self-evident, not just related to the entertainment industry. Posting a personal story seemed like just another performance that did not really do anything besides creating a brief awkward moment for both writer and reader. The scale and tone of the negative male responses in my feed, however, persuaded me otherwise. Whether it was comments about women being part of the problem, men stating that women can also be abusers, men ranting against third wave feminism and leftie politics, I was quite blown away by the diminishment of women’s experience of male sexual violence. So instead of continuing last night’s unfriending spree, here is yet another woman’s story.


As a woman, you grow up with a seemingly contradictory set of instructions: one, you need to protect yourself – and need to be protected – from male sexual violence, and, two, you need to perform in ways appealing to men. Failure to comply with either would result in a messed up life. You have to beam at men’s compliments on your physical appearance or, if these are not forthcoming, work harder at feminising yourself, even if this renders you more vulnerable. The important thing is that you remain an OBJECT.

I always explain to my male musician friends how many rock concerts, ‘hang outs’ and even music rehearsals I had to miss, because I was female. While they were able to see  Sisters of Mercy and other acts when they were teenagers, I was not able to go. It was either “you will get raped” from both parents but especially my dad (who still uses this argument with me if I want to go out at night or cycle through less populated areas of my sleepy hometown), or “women are not serious enough about music” to warrant rehearsal space from male youth centre workers “and, besides, boys are our priority”.

The lesson: women may have increased economic resources, but are dissuaded from using them; boys cause trouble, but they are also more serious – so girls have to stay at home. In my case, growing up in the 1970s and 80s with a policeman father, this at one point involved drawing over a large stack of misprinted Red Army Faction terrorist hunt posters that he had brought home as ‘art materials’. Compared with the skewed gender balance of the sexual offenders archive, at least the leftist violence committed by both men and women seemed more equal opportunities.

There is not a single day in a woman’s life, where their gender is not policed in some way or another. Yes, I get that it is not only men who police women, and that men are policed, too, in how they have to perform – that is the insanity of heteronormativity and heteropatriarchy. There are two controversial films that illustrate this for me the mechanics of both really well, Sandstorm (2016) and Elle (2016). Elite Zexer’s Sandstorm made headlines for being an Israeli film about Muslim Berber culture, and for the Muslim actors refusing to share a stage with the Israeli minister of culture. I am aware of the problems with this film in terms of colonial dynamics, but one thing I thought the film did really well is to show how women’s oppression fucks up EVERYONE.

Sandstorm focuses on marriage and the problems that come with love, arranged marriages and polygamy. Despite the involvement of Berber women in the script writing, the film could easily be perceived as yet another finger pointing at backward Muslim traditions and further fuel for discriminating practices against Muslim women in supposedly enlightened places such as France or Canada. Yet the way the relations among women and between men and women are shown, also allows for a much more universal metaphor regarding gender relations (and, yes, gay relationships are not exempt from adhering to heteronormativity either).

The film is set in a poor Berber settlement in Israel. It opens with the dad, Suliman (Hitham Omari), teaching his teenage daughter Layla (Lamis Ammar) how to drive while telling her off about her bad school performance: ‘what shall become of you?” Suliman comes across as a progressive dad who wants his daughters (he only has daughters) to do well and is happy to bend some conventions in a rather conservative environment, such as letting his younger daughters run around the settlement without headscarves for a little longer and letting the older one go to school for longer than ‘necessary’. Jalila (Ruba Blal), the mother, by contrast, comes across as more conservative, trying to aggressively prevent her daughter from seeing a guy at school that Layla is in love with. In protest, Layla turns to her dad whom she believes to be more understanding, but here it turns out that her judgment was wrong. After meeting her desired groom, Suliman consults with the other men and decides on a different husband that Layla is to marry immediately.

Image: Layla asking a very fundamental question about the appeal of heteronormativity

Now it is the mother who does unconventional things, by protesting against the marriage and accusing him of never asserting any agency in front of the other men, from accepting his apparently ‘unwanted’ second wife’ to marrying off his daughter to a stranger: “you always say you have to do it”. Gendered oppression is being perpetuated by just following the script. As a consequence, Jalila is banished, loses custody of her daughters, and has to move back in with her parents. When Layla takes her dad’s car to get her mother back, her mother urges her to take the car and run away with the guy she likes: “go – there is nothing here for you”. After some hesitation, Layla drives the car to her boyfriend’s settlement, where she finds him hanging out with other guys, in very much the same scenario as her own environment.

Her dad, anticipating this development, is already coming for her, too. After some discussion during which Layla tells her dad that she does not trust him and his judgment any more, she agrees to marry a guy called Munir (Omar El Nasasreh) (whom people make fun of in her settlement). It feels like she partly agrees for her mother’s sake, and partly, because she perhaps realises that her life in the other settlement would probably not be much different or worse, as she would be cut off from any support if things do not work out. The film ends with her wedding night, where she snaps at her new husband off for choosing the wrong colour for their room, her little sister spying on them like she did at her dad’s wedding night with the second wife.

Image: Jalila ‘greets’ the second wife

What I liked about the film was how simply it portrayed the inescapability of a system that ingrains toxic gender relations. And it is not only women who suffer, although they bear the brunt of the oppression. Munir will probably never be able to get anything else than resentment or resignation from his wife, no matter how well he treats her. What the film also teases out is the refusals of solidarity among women. Whether it is Jalila’s mother telling her daughter to obey her husband, Suliman’s second wife complaining about Jalila’s lack of service to her, or Layla’s refusal of empathy with Suliman’s second wife who warns her not to run away with her boyfriend and ‘end up like her’ – a mere second wife. The film does not end with a naïve conclusion that love is the answer – it portrays love as very much part of the same problem. In fact, this aspect made me think about my neighbourhood, and how, thanks to the density of urban space, I can overhear the same arguments about gender roles between couples from the supposedly conservative Muslim family to the self-proclaimed progressive atheists.

The second film, Elle (2016) by Paul Verhoven, was widely criticised for its repeated portrayal of rape by a male director and male writers (both the script and the book it was based on). I did not want to see it at first, both because of the violence and the incredibly uninspiring trailer that looked liked just another ‘whodunnit’ story. As a fan of Isabelle Huppert, I ended up seeing it anyway. The film is set in the opposite social environment to Sandstorm, in a white wealthy Parisian neighbourhood. It opens with a rape and the subsequent clean-up of the scene by the victim, Michèle (Isabelle Huppert), whose resuming of her normal life after such an assault seems perplexing if not disturbing. Gradually, the viewer learns that Michèle’s father was a mass murder who killed every person and animal in their housing block and involved his daughter in the clean-up. Since then, all her dealings with the police and prison system have been traumatic, so she avoids contact at all costs, even when she gets hurt in a car crash. As a consequence, she begins her own kind of investigation.

Throughout this search for the rapist, it becomes clear that Michèle is part of a number of dysfunctional relationships with men, including misogynist employees at her computer games company who make videos of her getting raped, her womanising ex-husband, her ultra naïve son who cannot seem to get his life together, and finally an affair with her best friend Anna’s callous husband Robert. After another rape attack in her home during which she manages to defend herself and unmask the attacker, she finds out that the perpetrator is her married ultra-Catholic neighbour Patrick (Laurent Lafitte) with whom she has been flirting at neighbourhood gatherings. After Michèle unmasks him, they have a weird sexual encounter that reads like a power struggle, as Michèle initiates it, but Patrick is unable to perform sexually with consenting partners.

Image: Michèle begins her experimentation with negotiating male violence

This seems to be the point, perhaps also caused by the death of both of her parents that tie her to a history of violence where Michèle starts to turn things around (her mother dies from a stroke and her dad from hanging himself in prison before Michèle can make the first visit to him since his trial that her mother had asked her to make). She becomes more assertive with men at her company, she tells her friend Anna about the affair, and she lets Patrick know that she is going to go to the police. When Patrick tries to rape her again, he is killed (in a rather comical way with a fireplace log) by Michèle’s son Vincent (Jonas Bloquet) who was staying over. When the mistrustful police arrives to interrogate Michèle and her son, she pretends that she had no idea that the attacker was her neighbour. From this moment onwards, Michèle not only gets along better with her son and his own dysfunctional family, but also with her friend Anna, who has kicked out her husband and offers Michèle to move in with her. Patrick’s wife moves out of the neighbourhood, confessing that she knew about her husband’s preferences and perversely thanking Michèle for satisfying what she could not.

The main accusation against this film was that the film affirmed the stereotype of the masochist woman who actually enjoys sexual violence. To me, the film was not about that, but about its opposite: assertion in the face of (deliberate and non-deliberate) male violence. There are a few other substories to the film (around the son, the mother, the ex-husband) that add substance to this narrative. Although Michèle seems accultured into accepting gender based violence and even playing along with it, she also experiments with how you can be as a woman in the world if you are seen as rapable, if you are constantly pathologised, objectified, challenged. By choosing a white wealthy middle class woman and head of a company as an example, the film shows this violence as irrespective of social standing – if not even someone like Michèle can rely on the ‘justice’ system, who is it for women with less social status?

Here, the film shows both failures and successes of Michèle’s experiment (e.g. in female solidarity, in self-administered justice, in playing with social expectations). It does not seek to garner empathy by making her likeable but by making her ambiguous through questionable and seemingly contradictory actions. For every woman, life is an experiment with negotiating objecthood, a status that seems impossible to overcome.

Image: Director Paul Verhoven, with actress Isabelle Huppert on set

Although I was initially critical of the negative reviews of the film for caving in to the woman-as-victim on-and-off-screen narrative that they are apparently trying to argue against – after all, Isabelle Huppert herself initially wanted to direct this film and had a large part in shaping her role, and the film leaves none of the men with redeeming features – I also empathise with the many negative reviews and their fury against not just the portrayal of female violence on screen, but against the gender dynamics behind it. I get that women are angry with yet another guy filming a rape scene, and here it would interest me why the director was attracted to this material.

To come back to the #metoo campaign, there was an important segment on it on the independent US political programme Democracy Now!. The programme put the campaign in context and drew attention to the 10+year history of the campaign, originally started by black youth worker and Girls for Gender Equity director Tarana Burke. Burke, a victim of sexual assault herself, highlighted how someone saying ‘me, too’ completely changed her healing trajectory for the better. Journalist and director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project Soraya Chemaly, who was also on the show, stressed the importance of the campaign of adding pressure on institutions who continue to invalidate women’s experiences and withdraw resources. Especially during a time where a known serial sexual abuser such as Donald Trump is head of state, such struggle for resources and validation is crucial. So while the men in my Facebook feed may not be in positions to withdraw resources from women, they also reflect the continued invalidation of women’s experiences of sexual violence. Such attitudes perpetuate the myth of conspiracy and the myth of a ‘balance’ of sexual violence (as a geographer, I could bore you with maps upon maps and statistics showing not just graphic illustrations of women’s inequality but also the sex difference in violent crime).

Further, this is an issue that needs women and men to work together (and women and men amongst each other). If men do not even get that this is an issue and do not get how much women are sick of such invalidations, despite evidence from the mass disappearance of indigenous women in the Americas to, yes, women’s abuse in Hollywood and the BBC, then that is a problem. It is also a problem if men demand empathy from women for their suffering first, making it a conditional assistance. #metoo is not a competition either – it is not about demonstrating how one person has suffered more than another, but about attempting a snapshot of an everyday struggle that cannot get better if fundamental power differences and their history – not just based on gender, but also on race, religion, geographical location and economic status – are glossed over as meaningless. While I remain ambiguous about how the campaign is unfolding and thus can understand other people’s ambiguity, I insist that the basic problem needs to be taken seriously.


Feminist Review CFP “Environment”



The following call might be of interest to readers:


Themed issue on ‘Environment’ 

Feminism has a long and complex relationship to ‘nature’ and ‘the environment’. From critiques of the gendered nature/ culture binary to ecofeminism, feminists have alternatively rejected and celebrated women’s supposedly closer relationship to the natural world. Feminism has also long engaged critically with conventional definitions of humanism and ‘the human’, especially as derived from the exclusionist and violent definitions of the European Enlightenment.

These activist and critical histories have been revised and revisited in recent years as part of a growing preoccupation in the social sciences and humanities with the environment as subject, as well as object, of study. Growing consciousness of human-induced climate change, with its vastly unequal impact on different human populations as well as the planet as a whole, adds special urgency to these concerns. Whether as part of the post-humanist critique of the humanities, the ‘animal turn’, or the ‘new materialism’, feminists and other scholar-activists are increasingly reconceptualising definitions of, and boundaries between, the human and other-than-human world.

Feminist Review invites academic articles and creative interventions for a special issue on ‘Environment’. Possible topics of consideration include:

-genealogies of feminist environmentalism, within and beyond ecofeminism
-gender, race, class and ‘intersectional environmentalism’
-postcolonialism and environmental justice
-feminist contributions to debates and interventions around climate change
-gendered histories of the environment
-memory, mourning and environmental destruction
-queer ecologies
-religious and spiritual dimensions of feminist engagement with ecology
-post-humanist approaches to environmental studies
-gendering ecocriticism
-material feminisms
-kinship across species
-feminist, queer and anti-racist interventions in animal studies
-feminist perspectives on planetary futures

Issue editors: Yasmin Gunaratnam, Carrie Hamilton and Ioana Szeman

If you would like to discuss your ideas for this issue please contact the editors at y.gunaratnam@gold.ac.uk, c.hamilton@roehampton.ac.uk and i.szeman@roehampton.ac.uk.

Full articles or Open Space pieces to be submitted by 2 January 2017.

Manuscripts should be submitted through Feminist Review’s online submission system and in FR house style. See http:// http://www.palgrave-journals.com/fr/author_instructions.html.

AAG 2015 CFP: Feminist Geophilosophy

Image: Still from Björk ‘Mutual Core’

Feminist geophilosophy

AAG 2015 CFP, Chicago IL 21st – 25th April 2015

Convenors: Angela Last (University of Glasgow) and Kathryn Yusoff (Queen Mary University of London)
Sponsored by the Cultural Geography Specialty Group (CGSG) of the Association of American Geographers

The current Anthropocenic milieu has given rise to a flurry of geophilosophical musings and “geo” appendages that are responding to the call to push thought further into the earth. Located in a wider field of engagements with matter and inorganic life, Anthropocenic thought must strive to rethink the relation between territory and earth and grapple with the emergence of a geopolitical field that is constituted by the geologic underpinnings of life and power. Planetary thought does not only represent a provocation to philosophy, but also to geography: what does it mean to think (with) the Earth? If geophilosophy claims this as its project, then it needs to negotiate a near infinite number of choices, reminiscent of Bataille’s claim that while philosophy must ‘positively envisage the waste products of intellectual appropriation’, it may not be able to deal with the scale and heterogeneity of what it finds. Here, a feminist reading perhaps sensitises us to the acts of selection that are being performed: what is or can be included, considering the scope? What is, in Barad’s terms ‘excluded from mattering’? What alliances are formed, uncovered or disregarded across the planet and beyond? A tradition of feminist thought also alerts us to the modes of exhaustion and forms of violence that characterize such matterings and their potential to become otherwise.

Considering that geophilosophy is often presented as an almost exclusively male domain despite its many claims to a diverse and inclusive discourse, the provocation of a feminist geophilosophy session offers an opportunity to think about imperative alliances between feminism and geophilosophy. Reminiscent of Graham Harman’s ‘Girls Welcome!!!’ comment about the perceived ‘sausage fest’ of speculative realism, similar arguments could be made regarding geophilosophy’s intellectual scene. In this session we assert the unequivocal importance of feminist perspectives on geophilosophy to address the contours of power, race, sex, speciesm, biology and futurity within the context of the Anthropocene. If, indeed the Anthropocene is to betray its (homo)normative origins in the consecration of “Man”, Anthropocenic thought needs to find new points of departure that examine these spurious origins and problematic invocations to offer alternative strategies for solidarity and modes of existence with/in the earth.

Image: Still from Ellen Gallagher ‘Nothing is…’

As such, we welcome papers that attend to:

  • Inhuman genealogies and inorganic life
  • Geologic thought/philosophies of geology/geotrauma
  • Feminist geophilosophers
  • Anthropocene and racialization
  • Anthropocene and postcolonial thought/decolonization
  • Anthropocene and feminism
  • Matter and geopower(s)
  • Queer ecologies and geologies
  • Epistemic violence and political ontology
  • Links between feminist geopolitics, feminist science studies and feminist geophilosophy

To be considered for the session, please send your abstract of 250 words or fewer, to: angela.Last@glasgow.ac.uk and k.yusoff@qmul.ac.uk

The deadline for the receipt of abstracts is October 1 2014. Notification of acceptance will be before October 7. All accepted papers will then need to register for the AAG conference at http://www.aag.org/annualmeeting. Accepted papers will be considered for a special issue or edited volume edited by the convenors.


One In Other @ Anthropocene Feminism, UWM


This week, I attended the Anthropocene Feminism conference at the Center for 21st Century Studies in Milwaukee. There, I spoke as part of a hugely enjoyable all-female (!) geophilosophy panel with Jessi Lehman and Stephanie Wakefield (organised by Rory Rowan, Elizabeth Johnson and Harlan Morehouse). On this occasion, I decided not to put together a standard paper, but something that could be described as an experiment in lyrical prose. It discusses Simone Weil’s amor fati (love of the order of the world) and Hannah Arendt’s amor mundi (love of the world). I have uploaded it here. Comments appreciated!

I would also like to thank the conference organisers for facilitating conversations between academics from such a diverse range of subjects, and Lee Mackinnon (check out her blog ‘The Speculative Ceiling’ for Anthropocene themed short stories and poems) for invaluable comments on earlier drafts.