Editors: Dr. Elora Halim Chowdhury (Univ. of Massachussetts Boston) and Dr. Liz Philipose (California State Univ. Long Beach)
This volume examines the role of friendship between women as a resource for transnational collaborations, and the often conflictual contexts in which they emerge. We take our cue from literary scholar Leela Gandhi, (Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought, Fin-de-Siecle Radicalism, and the Politics of Friendship. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), who describes friendship as a collaboration between the “most unlikely of associates” within a 19th century colonial context. Minor yet significant, these relationships offer an alternative reading of the colonial encounter. Similarly, we argue that in the current neocolonial imperial context, where global divides are at once intractable yet more diffuse, the idea of dissident cross-cultural friendship might provide a transformative vision of transnational solidarity and praxis. In other words, this work is guided by the question, do unlikely alliances among associates of oppressor and oppressed communities–trump, or are trumped by, other kinds of allegiances individuals might have, to family, community, or nation, in the pursuit of social justice.
For instance, in the last decade as the U.S. nation has waged a global war, women’s writings – memoirs, travel writings, fiction – and films have burgeoned on the topic of friendship with the Other (Kabul Beauty School, A Cup of Friendship, Lipstick in Afghanistan, Beyond Belief to name just a few). Even as these narratives emphasize friendship as a vehicle for healing, and peace-building among women of nations at war, these relationships are forged within the larger context of a long history of western and feminist imperialism, militarism and domination of the Other. Do these friendships dismantle western imperialism, or contribute to new entrenchments of it? In this context, we are interested to discover examples of Maria Lugones’ (“Sisterhood and Friendship as Feminist Models.” Feminism and Community, Eds. Penny E. Weiss, and Marilyn Friedman. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995. 135-146 ) observations about bonding among women across differences where there is a possibility for pluralist friendships that are mutually, meaningful, empathetic, and transformative.
What kinds of solidarities – oppositional, dissident, or complicit – can we envision at the intersections of the contradictory practices of militarism, humanism, neoliberalism, and peace-building initiatives, which seem to implicate women as their primary agents? Jacqui Alexander (Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminisms, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005) has argued that as human beings we share a profound and sacred connection with one another, which can only be realized through deep reflection and self-conscious practice. How do we imagine and strive for such connection and consciousness even as we are fractured by identity and geopolitics? Are alliances across differences inevitably crushed within dominant patriarchal colonial relations? Or do they cause a change in self-and-other-perception to contribute to social and political transformation? Can friendship be revisioned as the basis of solidarity because it is premised on an emotional connection; and in what ways do emotions reveal the subtle workings of power, as Uma Narayan (“Working Together Across Difference: Some Considerations on Emotions and Political Practice.” Hypatia 3.2 (Summer 1988):133-140) suggests?
We invite a range of submissions that reflect a transnational feminist methodology, including work that is interdisciplinary, ethnographic, literary, filmic, personal, narrative, fictional, creative non-fiction, poetry and research essays.
Dr. Elora Halim Chowdhury, Associate Professor, Department of Women’s Studies, University of Massachussetts Boston. Author of Transnationalism Reversed: Women Organizing Against Gendered Violence in Bangladesh (SUNY Press, 2011), working on a separate project on female friendships and transnational feminist solidarity.
Dr. Liz Philipose, Associate Professor, International Studies Program, California State University Long Beach, Author of “The Politics of Pain and the End of Empire”, IFjP; “The Politics of Pain and the Uses of Torture”, Signs; “Healing the Wounds of Imperialism”, in Works and Days; ”Decolonizing the Racial Grammar of International Law”, in Mohanty, et al, Feminism and War.
Please submit your proposal of 500-1000 words by March 30, 2012