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Feminist Freedom Fighters. Edited by Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Linda Carty.

March 12, 2018

Feminist Freedom Warriors

Feminist Freedom Fighters:  Genealogies, Justice, Politics and Hope.   Edited by Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Linda Carty.   Haymarket Publishing, 2018.  Forthcoming June 2018.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

Available now online: http://feministfreedomwarriors.org :

5 stars

An amazing book by a group of activist scholars conversing and constructing a structural framework flexible enough to change and develop as we work in the universities and the streets against the varied oppressions of women—and the whole society.  A global anti-racist and anti-imperialist feminism.

Feminist Freedom Warriors is more a book.  The book is one piece of a project to record and share the conversations which are occurring among some of most creative and radical women intellectuals active today.  As the group states on their website

Born out of an engagement with anti-capitalist, anti-racist feminist struggles as women of color from the Global South, Feminist Freedom Warriors (FFW) is a project about cross-generational histories of feminist activism addressing economic, anti-racist, social justice, and anti-capitalist issues across national borders. These are stories of sister-comrades, many of whom we have worked and struggled with over the years, whose ideas, words, actions, and visions of economic and social justice continue to inspire us to keep on keeping on.  We feel an urgency to tell these individual and connected/collective stories—to “speak what we live” for ourselves and the generations that will follow us.  FFW is a labor of love, dedicated to those who have come before us, and those who will come after.

Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Linda Carty are editors for this book. Both are women of color who teach at Syracuse University and have worked with others in the university’s interdisciplinary Democratizing Knowledge program.  Mohany is originally from India, and Carty is African Canadian.  In the Feminist Freedom Warriors, the editors interview a variety of scholars from around the globe.  Seven of these interviews have been transcribed in the book and over twenty are available online.  The scholar-activists interviewed in the book are Margo Okazawa-Rey, Angela Y. Davis, Minnie Bruce Pra, Himani Bannerjee, Amina Mama, Aida Hernandez-Castillo, and Zillah Eisenstein, with a postscript by Taveeshi Singh.

The interviews are structured to gather women’s stories of their own lives, activism, and analysis. All are asked big questions, such as how did you get involved in activism, what current work are you doing, and what have you learned from your activism and research.   Their stories are meant to “inform, inspire, and activate the imagination to explore what a just world might look like.”

Conversation rather than theory structure the FFW.  The women seek to establish a process that will allow various groups oppressed by the status quo to talk and work together.  They are strongly anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist, but they are not traditional Marxists.  Instead of producing a theory which is intended to be true everywhere, they look at particular, historical situations, emphasizing the “material” realities and then relating the particular story with other particular stories.

When the second wave of feminism gained prominence in the United States 1970s, white women often spoke and acted as if we had the answers for all women.  Globally, women resisted, pointing out our arrogance and lack of understanding of their oppression.  They pointed out that women can oppress each other.  Ever since, feminists have been trying to listen to each other.  We have been working to conceptualize how various oppressions intersect in the lives of all women.  Feminist Freedom Warriors is a major step forward in this endeavor.

This book puts together the pieces that I had been reading and collecting over recent years.  I finally have a coherent, oppositional, conceptual base from which to think and act.  And it does by focusing on concrete stories gather than jargon.  I hope it is widely read.

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