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Writing in the wake of neoliberalism, where human rights and social justice have increasingly been subordinated to proliferating “consumer choices” and ideals of market justice, contributors to this collection argue that feminist ethnographers are in a key position to reassert the central feminist connections between theory, methods, and activism. Together, we suggest avenues for incorporating methodological innovations, collaborative analysis, and collective activism in our scholarly projects. What are the possibilities (and challenges) that exist for feminist ethnography 25 years after initial debates emerged in this field about reflexivity, objectivity, reductive individualism, and the social relevance of activist scholarship? How can feminist ethnography intensify efforts towards social justice in the current political and economic climate? This collection continues a crucial dialog about feminist activist ethnography in the 21st century—at the intersection of engaged feminist research and activism in the service of the organizations, people, communities, and feminist issues we study.
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Christa Craven is the chair of the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies program and an assistant professor of anthropology and WGSS at the College of Wooster. She is the author of Pushing for Midwives: Homebirth Mothers and the Reproductive Rights Movement. Craven has also published articles for both scholarly and popular audiences on midwifery and reproductive rights activism in journals and newsletters such as Citizens for Midwifery News, American Anthropologist, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Feminist Studies, and Feminist Formations. She is the former co-chair of the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists (now the Association for Queer Anthropology).
Dána-Ain Davis is the associate chair of the Graduate Program in Urban Studies at Queens College, City University of New York. Her work is predominately concerned with examining how people “live policy.” The issues that interest her include neoliberalism, poverty, race, gender, reproductive justice, domestic violence, and HIV/AIDS. Additionally, she also writes on activist/feminist anthropology. Davis is the author of Battered Black Women and Welfare Reform: Between a Rock and a Hard Place (2006) and contributing author to Beyond Reproduction: Women’s Health, Activism, and Public Policy by Karen Baird with Kimberly Christensen. Davis is the co-editor with Aimee Cox of Transforming Anthropology, the journal of the Association of Black Anthropologists, and serves as chair of the New York Foundation.
This is an important book. Craven and Davis have assembled a wide range of papers from feminist activist scholars that document the myriad ways in which such politically engaged ethnography can illuminate the wider struggle against the neoliberal terrain. It is a cohesive and elegantly structured volume that draws readers into the debates concerning the ethics of feminist ethnography both within and outside of the academy. It's a 'must read' for anyone concerned with social justice.
(Cheryl Mwaria, Hofstra University)
This text pays homage to feminist research traditions while also adding new dimensions to social science inquiries from the 21st century. Craven and Davis have successfully collaborated on a brilliant and scholarly response to the question, ‘Can there be a politically engaged feminist ethnography?’ The answer, according to this visionary text, is a resounding yes! (Cheryl R. Rodriguez)
Feminist Activist Ethnography connects long-standing concerns of feminism and activist anthropology with a focus on neoliberalism in the North American context. This volume provides substantive critiques of neoliberalism that are at once diverse, cohesive, and ethnographically grounded, offering an excellent corrective to the many unmoored or generalized discussions of neoliberalism within anthropological scholarship over the last ten years. The most useful contribution of this volume, however, is the way that it addresses the unique challenges that neoliberalism has posed for feminist activist ethnographers as they attempt to develop relationships and produce knowledge that destabilizes and challenges structures of power. . . .[T]he volume is well suited for courses on anthropological ethics, methods, and theory, as well as topical courses on feminist anthropology, activism, community organizing, nongovernmental organizations, women’s rights, urban anthropology, and North America. . . .I would also strongly recommend this book for teaching about neoliberalism in the United States because of the rich repertoire of ethnographic cases. . . .Feminist Activist Ethnography provides a crucial road map for activist anthropologists, demonstrating how historical feminist ethnography shapes where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going, whether postneoliberal or not-so-postneoliberal. (American Ethnologist)
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