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Book Review: Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism

Book Review: Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism

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Last winter I saw Lana Joffrey perform parts of Heather Raffo’s stunning and heartbreaking “Nine Parts of Desire”. The one-woman play gives us an intimate look at nine vastly different Iraqi women, brilliantly and painfully linking the body count and the narratives of the Iraqi people’s pain and suffering caused by the war. Raffo and Joffrey managed to break out of a binary script by doing narrative monologues from different perspectives.
Last winter I saw Lana Joffrey perform parts of Heather Raffo’s stunning and heartbreaking “Nine Parts of Desire”. The one-woman play gives us an intimate look at nine vastly different Iraqi women, brilliantly and painfully linking the body count and the narratives of the Iraqi people’s pain and suffering caused by the war. Raffo and Joffrey managed to break out of a binary script by doing narrative monologues from different perspectives.

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Theory in Action, Vol. 2, No. 4, October 2009 (© 2009) DOI:10.3798/tia.1937-0237.

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Riley, Robin L., Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Minnie Bruce Pratt. Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism. Zed Books: London and New York, 2008. Pp. 288. $34 (paperback). ISBN 978-1848130197 Reviewer: Maike Garland1 [Article copies available for a fee from The Transformative Studies Institute. E-mail address: journal@transformativestudies.org Website: http://www.transformativestudies.org ©2009 by The Transformative Studies Institute. All rights reserved.] Last winter I saw Lana Joffrey perform parts of Heather Raffo’s stunning and heartbreaking “Nine Parts of Desire”. The one-woman play gives us an intimate look at nine vastly different Iraqi women, brilliantly and painfully linking the body count and the narratives of the Iraqi people’s pain and suffering caused by the war. Raffo and Joffrey managed to break out of a binary script by doing narrative monologues from different perspectives. Similarly, this anthology of twenty-one essays offers solid arguments against the pro-war claim that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are helpful to women and feminist in their support of women, and challenges us to rupture the binary scripts, master narratives and compassion fatigue dominating the mainstream discourse. I found the analysis of the current wars and the militarization of our society to be the most pressing and significant aspects of the book, especially as the analysis was put in the context of world economic globalization. The contributors present intelligent and thought provoking analysis of the US wars from various feminist perspectives. As noted in the introduction, “War is examined […] in multiple ways – as direct military intervention and occupation, as the structuring and restructuring of legal and cultural systems, as the creation of economic foreign policy initiatives, and as a tool and technique to expand the reach of imperialism”. This book is an invaluable resource for advocates of radical feminist politics, political activists, academics, journalists and anyone willing to challenge their thoughts and actions—or lack thereof—in this time of war.

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Maike Garland teaches at Goddard College, a progressive educational institution, in Vermont. 1937-0229 ©2009 Transformative Studies Institute

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Each section includes critical in-depth analytical essays. She urges us to understand the complexities of sex. sexuality. “Feminists and Queers in the Service of Empire” is compelling and complex. Western liberal practices function as a precursor to homonational formation while welfare reform. Angela Davis starts off part one by offering a "vocabulary for feminist praxis: on war and radical critique” where she calls not only for our feminist vision. race. to legitimize and continue those wars. We meet the war inside and outside our selves. The anthology is organized in four parts: Feminist geopolitics of war. and even invoke women’s liberation. as well as stories that appeal to imagination.Theory in Action Feminist thought and action inhabits a contested site and this anthology reclaims feminist ground as a site of radical analysis and collective actions. Very simply put. and counter terrorism initiatives contribute to the fractioning of race and class alliances and the proliferation of homonationalisms. interviews. but also for methodologies for interdisciplinary analysis and methodologies for building movements. some of which I found to be a challenging read. and shows how war “is a danger to democracy because it justifies and therefore normalizes secrecy. and killing”. feminists mobilizing critiques of war. and raises the question of which homosexual subjects 97 . which she terms homonationalism. surveillance. heart. And Zillah Eisenstein decodes the many ways that ‘imperial democracy’ uses racial diversity and gender fluidity to disguise itself. She uses the term ‘exceptionalism’ to signify both the particular discourses that produce the USA as an exceptional nation-state and the disregard of limits of state juridical and political power during times of state crisis in order to justify extreme measures. class. gender and racial formations in order to resist militaristic global capitalism. Jasbir Punar’s essay. deception. The essays reveal and analyze the complicated ways in which those in pursuit and justification of US wars continue to use gender. The question. The starting point for a much needed feminist and interdisciplinary analysis of the current state of affairs can thus be found in this book. imperialism. neo-liberal privatization. "What does it take to stop a war?" runs through the book. anti-immigrant legislation. She suggests that heteronormative ideals pivotal to nation-state formation now are supplemented by homonormativities. and personal stories. women’s struggles and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. and soul such as poems. nationalism. and feminists organizing against imperialism and war. the homosexual other is white while the racial other is straight. War and Feminism lets us not only meet the war outside of the US.

Maike Garland are exceptionalized? Jasbir Punar’s essay challenged me to. Setsu Shigematsu introduces us to two women of color veterans. a young Iraqi female living in Baghdad. Feminists Mobilizing Critiques of War. “explore connections that are not always apparent…[e]nabling us to inhabit contradictions and to discover what is productive about these contradictions”. Riverbend’s blog and subsequent book illustrates the possibilities inherent in the Web allowing for marginalized populations to enter the discourse. But the most pressing question in this section is what will it take to end the war? Again I return to Angela Davis' call for methodologies for interdisciplinary analysis and building movements. She presents an historical analysis of the colonizing grammar of international law. In the second part. Anuradha Kristina Bhagwati and Eli Paintedcrow. The interview is a poignant and intimate view of the multifaceted experiences of the two veterans. saving brown women and thereby using rescue as a justification for empire building. Furthermore. in Angela Davis words. I was intrigued by Shahnaz Khan’s timely. Bhagwati points out how the racist. and by using sarcasm and wit to expose the underlying colonialist motives and repercussions of the invasion. The third section focused exclusively on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. and their call for radical changes in the personal and public sphere in order to cultivate peace. Nadine Sinno scrutinizes the book based on one year’s blog entries by Riverbend. and the pleas and directions she issues for involvement. sexist and heterosexist aspects of the US are magnified in this institution and the impossibility of altering the military from within. 98 . Riverbend very effectively deconstructs the dominant discourse and challenges the master narrative presented to us by mainstream media by simply telling us actual incidents that resulted from the same ‘raids’ that are presented as a means of combating ‘terrorism’. I was struck by the vulnerability and fearless honesty with which Bhagwati and Paintedcrow exposed the brutalizing effect of military service. as defined by Euro-colonial concepts”. showing how “the use of torture parallels and abets the international legal impulse of subsuming subject peoples into becoming human. Moreover. Elizabeth Philopose interrogates the colonial foundations of our current legal system in her essay on decolonizing the racial grammar of international law. provocative and illuminating discussion of the continued colonization of Afghan women by governments as well as feminists through the discursive construction of Afghan women in need of rescue--in other words.

informed and felt propelled to action by the thought-provoking perspectives offered here. Several of the contributors reflect on the ways in which our society has become increasingly militarized and war normalized to the extent that we are not outraged. I was inspired. breaking the hard shell I use to numb myself against the unimaginable pain we inflict by our indifference. 99 . narratives of violence and loss that do the work of taking apart dominant geopolitical scripts of ‘us’ and ‘them’” illustrating the fact that embodied epistemologies and narratives of people’s experience of pain and suffering provide alternative ways to frame war. alarmed. Jennifer Hyndman’s essay is a notable exception. We urgently need a more judicious and discerning policy in Afghanistan and Iraq and the essays presented here offer intelligent and comprehensive insights and critiques that can be transformed into action. Raging Grannies) that already are familiar. who teach about war and peace. The comprehensive anti-imperialist analysis shows the ways in which the US is furthering the militarization of daily life for people in the US and around the world. The book provides us with many of the tools needed to analyze and dismantle the rhetoric used to continue and prolong US wars. The twenty-one essays examine and challenge us to deconstruct imperial wars crafted as rescue missions in the name of democracy and ‘civilization’. It is an invaluable resource for those of us who work to end war. love and painful clarity. Most of the specific reflections on action-oriented movements. I want to end with an excerpt from In Praise of Africa’s Children by M cere G thae M go. The poem (part I) makes it into my soul with poise. are reflections on brilliant ideas (Women in Black. found in the fourth and last part of the book. She challenges us to put together “the quiet. gender and militarism. and those who think about war. even silenced.Theory in Action I found the book rich in just this interdisciplinary analysis. heartbroken and propelled into action by the current situation. We need the heartbreaking narratives and poetics as well as the sharp analysis to dismantle the master narrative.

Maike Garland I want to sing a love song A song for my little tender ones A song in praise of my loved ones scattered by imperialist history across the Americas across the Caribbean piled up in global mass graves etched shallow under ocean depths across the length and breadth of Western history’s murderous face from Goree to Martinique from Sao Tome to Brazil from Takoradi to Carolina. Refrain Melodies of love well within me Rivers of love flow through my heart Torrents of passion flood my veins I am full to overflowing. But what song shall I sing? 100 .

By Riley. Generalized Belief. By Shukaitis.95 (paperback). 320.I. Zed Books: London and New York. Staughton and Daniel Gross. 110. Pp. Robin L.) with Erika Biddle. 2007. $21. New York: Monthly Review Press. Williams Religious and Ethnic Identities: The Romaniote (Greek) Jews in the US Nicholas Alexiou Book Review: Labor Law For the Rank & Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear Of The Law.Volume 2 Number 4 October 2009 Theory In Action IN THIS ISSUE 1 7 29 Introduction. Pp. ISBN 978-1604860337 Ian MacMillan Book Review: The World We Wish to See: Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty-First Century. 2008. Murphy Resurrecting Smelser: Collective Power. Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Minnie Bruce Pratt. By Amin. $34 (paperback). ISBN 978-1904859352 Dave McAllister 45 66 77 86 91 96 101 Journal of the Transformative Studies Institute . By Lynd. Stevphen and David Graeber (Eds. 160. Schlaerth and John W. Pp. $60 (hardcover). and Hegemonic Spaces Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur Revolution in Epistemology? Feminist Challenges to Epistemic Authority in the Aftermath of 1968 Iris Mendel A Capitalist World? Mapping the Limits of Market-Ism Colin C. Pp. Samir. Michael Moore: A Love Story? Corey Dolgon Fighting the Good Fight: The Janitor’s Strike at the University of Miami Christian A. 288. ISBN 978-1583671726 Patrick Kane Book Review: Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism. Oakland: PM Press.. 2008. ISBN 978-1848130197 Maike Garland Book Review: Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations/Collective Theorization. Oakland: AK Press. 2008. $10 (paperback).

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.Dedicated to Michael Moore and all activist film makers.

University of Connecticut Book Review Editors Eric Buck. II Jesus Lopez Pelaez Jose Palafox Michael Parenti Eri Park Emma Pérez Clayton Pierce Andrew Robinson Deric Shannon Jeffrey Shantz Stephen Sheehi Kyung Ja (Sindy) Shin Stevphen Shukaitis Eva-Maria Swidler Caroline Tauxe Bill Templer Sviatoslav Voloshin Richard J White Ali Shehzad Zaidi . Worchester State College Deric Shannon. Sociatecture Eva-Maria Swidler.Editor-in-Chief John Asimakopoulos. SUNY-Canton Assistant Editors Corey Dolgon. Villanova University Founding Editor John Asimakopoulos. CUNY-Bronx Editor Ali Shehzad Zaidi. CUNY-Bronx Editorial Collective William Armaline Stanley Aronowitz John Asimakopoulos Liat Ben-Moshe Steve Best Marc Bousquet Eric Buck Graham Cassano Vanny Chang Ward Churchill Jay Corwin Abraham DeLeon Corey Dolgon Luis Fernandez Ben Frymer Victoria Fontan Uri Gordon Carol Gigliotti Richard Van Heertum Dave Hill Joy James Patrrice Jones Paul Jonker Caroline Kaltefleiter Lisa Kemmerer Ruth Kinna Elsa Karen Márquez-Aponte Mechthild Nagel Anthony Nocella.

By Lynd. Oakland: PM Press. 4 1 Introduction. $34 (paperback). By Amin. Williams Religious and Ethnic Identities: The Romaniote (Greek) Jews in the US Nicholas Alexiou Book Review: Labor Law For the Rank & Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear Of The Law. 2007.95 (paperback). ISBN 978-1583671726 Patrick Kane Book Review: Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism. 2008. 2008. Pp. By Shukaitis. 110. $60 (hardcover).CONTENTS Vol. Michael Moore: A Love Story? Corey Dolgon Fighting the Good Fight: The Janitor’s Strike at the University of Miami Christian A. 320. By Riley. 288. ISBN 978-1604860337 Ian MacMillan Book Review: The World We Wish to See: Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty-First Century. Oakland: AK Press. and Hegemonic Spaces Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur Revolution in Epistemology? Feminist Challenges to Epistemic Authority in the Aftermath of 1968 Iris Mendel A Capitalist World? Mapping the Limits of Market-Ism Colin C. Samir. No. Pp. Zed Books: London and New York. Staughton and Daniel Gross. Robin L. ISBN 978-1848130197 Maike Garland Book Review: Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations/Collective Theorization. Pp. 2008. $21. Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Minnie Bruce Pratt.) with Erika Biddle. ISBN 978-1904859352 Dave McAllister October 2009 7 29 45 66 77 86 91 96 101 . $10 (paperback). Pp. Schlaerth and John W.I. Generalized Belief. Murphy Resurrecting Smelser: Collective Power. Stevphen and David Graeber (Eds. 2. 160. New York: Monthly Review Press..

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a Ph.S. labor. Folksinger & Sociologist Corey Dolgon. From union retirees to active union members. very informative. of Louisville Labor-Management Center “Corey’s wonderful voice. I never knew there were songs about them. and other social movements were entertaining. “I learned about the importance and power of strikes and labor unions. from academics to management. This singing lecture covers labor history from a multicultural perspective and examines the function of folk songs in workers’ lives. New England College “Corey's music added tremendous spirit to our National Labor Assembly. abundant energy. all received a good time and good learning. and organizing. I encourage other unions to add Corey's talents and expertise to their agendas. William Patterson U. labor movement.D in American Culture and Sociology Professor has been performing “singing lectures” for almost a decade.” --Chris Dale.” --John Ralston. AFL-CIO “Corey Dolgon’s “singing lecture” is a hit. President.com .” --Kathleen Odell Korgen. He is a long-time labor activist and community organizer and has used folk songs to build solidarity on the line and engage students in the classroom. Professor of Sociology. and inspiring.” --Cheryl Johnson.In Search of One Big Union: A Singing Lecture by Corey Dolgon. United American Nurses. More info @ www. Focusing on the role that folksongs play in the U.coreydolgon.edu. Please contact Corey for scheduling a lecture or receiving a sample CD at 617-298-0388 or at cdolgon@worcester. labor. [The lecture] made the period come alive for me. Professor of Sociology. U. and great knowledge about folksongs. Corey’s words and music bring both history and theory to life.” --Stonehill College student “Corey’s work weaves together a coherent and accessible narrative about labor struggles with a tour de force of labor songs that moves audiences.

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It seeks to positively impact participants by empowering them with skills that develop their awareness and initiative and to also help them create meaningful learning in their lives. universities. advocacy groups and non-profit organizations. This requires objective information and a process of transformative learning.00 USD $35. public infrastructure. Zero corporate involvement in the political process at all levels. and other concerned individuals in fields such as social sciences. etc. health care. What we do believe in: • • • • • • • • • • • • • The supremacy of community decision making over corporate governance. activists. Free not for profit universal quality comprehensive health care as a human right. the institute plans on collaborating with various worker education programs. Direct political and economic democracy. In addition. social services. It involves questioning assumptions. All laws providing full and equal treatment to all individuals and groups regardless of any and all characteristics. Transformative learning goes beyond the mere acquisition of factual knowledge. we invite literary participation through our independent. governance. and law will be invited to conduct research and become involved in like-minded various grass roots organizations. As part of the mission. military. Transformative learning inspires action for change by questioning and challenging what is valued. A minimum living/family wage and job security laws with guaranteed universal quality housing. and operation of the center. Further. Many of TSI’s members have multiple graduate degrees. No corporate governance/involvement in news media and the creation of an independent public foundation with tax funds to finance free and independent journalism. through which research associates. peer-reviewed journal Theory in Action. labor centers. and the concerned public. TSI also welcomes opportunities to work with national and international scholars who serve as research associates and fellows. Free and equal public education at all levels and the elimination of all private educational institutions. In order to achieve these goals TSI believes we must change how people perceive the world around them in order to foster fundamental and thus meaningful change. and its aim is to provide a working model of theory in action. multiple years of secondary and college level teaching experience throughout most disciplines. TSI also provides consulting services. the institute may provide a working laboratory for evolutionary socioeconomic forms of organization. Sustainable development and the use of renewable resources for the protection of the environment. TSI is managed and operated by a dedicated global team of academic scholaractivists. and students may disseminate their research and expand thematic social dialogue. As such. humanities. utilities. as well as considering multiple viewpoints. housing. Fair Trade Direct action to foster meaningful change and social justice. Family planning and a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions with the availability of the required services.00 CAN PRINT ISSN: 1937-0229 ELECTRONIC ISSN: 1937-0237 . custom policy papers/projects.g. TSI Principles and Policy Positions ‘No one is free unless we are all free’ We do not believe in the privatization of socially important goods and services e.The Transformative Studies Institute (TSI) fosters interdisciplinary research that will bridge multidisciplinary theory with activism in order to encourage community involvement that will attempt to alleviate social problems. through shared research. scholars. The institute is concerned with issues of social justice and related activism. think-tanks. transportation. grassroots activists. TSI TRANSFORMATIVE STUDIES INSTITUTE $35. education. activists. Zero tolerance policies for conflicts of interests and political patronage for government positions at all levels. and values. beliefs. scholars.

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