Category Archives: Gender Studies

The Legacy of Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month—a month-long celebration of the vital role women have played in American history. Observed for over thirty years, Women’s History Month owes much of its legacy to the academics and activists who in the 1970s pushed for more recognition of Women’s Studies as an important area of focus in higher education. In her book When Women Ask the Questions: Creating Women’s Studies in America, Professor Marilyn Boxer recognizes that “merely to assert that women should be studied was a radical act.”

The history of feminist publishing goes hand-in-hand with the history of Women’s Studies as an intellectual pursuit. Through the University of Washington Press’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies publishing, which includes our Decolonizing Feminisms: Antiracist and Transnational Praxis and Feminist Technosciences series, we join in this radical publishing legacy. Our press is dedicated to bringing emerging, forward-thinking, and global women’s voices into print.

Below, some of our recent authors reflect on their own legacy as female scholars and share the books that inspired them as academics and authors.


Meridian by Alice Walker (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976)

This extraordinary novel explores the titular character’s personal, political, and spiritual development in the heart of the civil rights movement. A sensitive girl who grows into a complex, and often suffering young woman, Meridian leaves personal hardship in her Southern hometown for college, only to return years later and emerge as a leader in the civil rights movement. The novel considers the limits of self-sacrifice in the name of collective justice, asking what it means to love oneself, each other, and the movement. Here, Walker and Meridian herself, inspired me as a young activist by offering lessons about how long it takes to really find oneself, and the role of love and care in difficult, long-term activist work.

Meridian by Alice Walker

Islam and Gender: The Religious Debate in Contemporary Iran by Ziba Mir-Hosseini (Princeton University Press, 1999)

After reading this book, I knew I wanted to pursue graduate research around questions of gender, Islam, and Iran. Mir-Hosseini takes us into the heart of religious debates in Iran by interviewing leading clerics in the city of Qom. The author charts the complexity of debates among religious scholars around gender, religious interpretation, Islamic jurisprudence, and politics. Mir-Hosseini captures Iran’s rich culture of debate, the capacity of religious discourses to accommodate contemporary understandings of gender and justice, and the heterogeneity of social actors and influences in Iran.

Islam and Gender

 

Catherine Sameh, assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies at University of California, Irvine and author of Axis of Hope: Iranian Women’s Rights Activism across Borders


Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York by Kathy Piess (Temple Univ. Press, 1986)

I read Kathy Piess’s Cheap Amusements as an undergraduate. It was the first time I encountered a scholar who took women’s cultural history seriously. She seamlessly blended together political, economic, social, and cultural history, demonstrating how clothing, theater, and theme parks offered key sites for resistance among women with limited resources. I saw myself in those pages. Piess’s work, alongside many other fantastic women cultural historians, sent me down a path of inquiry into the very real consequences of style, performance, and consumption in people’s everyday lives.

Cheap Amusements

 

Rebecca Scofield, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History at the University of Idaho and author of Outriders: Rodeo at the Fringes of the American West


A Border Passage: From Cairo to America—A Woman’s Journey by Leila Ahmed (Penguin, 1999) 

The book that showed me the path for how to listen, reflect, process, and finally tell a story, be that one’s own or other people’s was A Border Passage by Leila Ahmed. I picked the book by chance from a counter at the library at Cal State Fullerton in 2004. I was a journalist at that time and was facing a dead-end using the lens of media studies in trying to understand the Kashmir dispute. I also was stifled because journalism is so “objectivity-centric” that one has to constantly hide oneself even in the analysis. Reading Leila Ahmed, I was struck by the clarity and insight she has when she is rendering her early life in Egypt. Her book is a memoir no doubt, but the vivid storytelling, the deep compassion it had for the people that inhabited the story, the nuanced exploration of events and incidents, and the author’s self-reflexivity opened a window that I never wanted to close. It turned out that Leila Ahmed is an anthropologist. Having grown up in Kashmir the discipline was unknown to me, but on a lighter note, now having come to know of it, I wanted to have what Leila Ahmed had. Anthropology allowed me to keep nurturing my poetic side. It had room for me to write academic analysis and treat poetry as a manifestation of serious ethnographic work. It has made the discipline even more valuable for me.

A Border Passage

 

Ather Zia, assistant professor of anthropology and gender studies at the University of Northern Colorado and author of Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism in Kashmir

Vernacular Formations of Sexuality in India

In October 2018 I spoke at a meeting organized by Hasratein (Desire), a queer collective in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. This meeting was soon after the landmark Supreme Court judgment in India on September 6, 2018 that read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), allowing for same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults in private. Pushing against the euphoria of the moment, my observations explored the non-linear trajectories of sexuality politics that cannot be plotted within the paradigms of rights, recognition, and individual autonomy. Drawing on the key interventions of my book Unruly Figures, I shared my thoughts on how regional idioms of activism and vernacular cultural practices, from different parts of India, disrupt a singular narrative of sexual progress and liberation.

Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala, was conceptualized, researched, and written over a period of about ten years. The primary research for this book was done in 2007–2010 when the global AIDS prevention and awareness machinery played a crucial role in making sexual categories such as the Commercial Sex Worker (CSW) and Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) highly visible. Sexuality politics in different regions of India has undergone considerable shifts as I was completing this book. Identity categories, legal frameworks, the public health machinery, global and national patterns of funding, the status of sexuality as a field of study, the circuits of print and visual media—there are many sites through which we can track these changes.

While the struggle for reading down Section 377 is perceived as an overarching framework for this period—this book demonstrates that the rights bearing sexual subject cannot be the fulcrum to anchor the long, ruptured history of the politics of sexuality in India. So it seems apt that this book reaches its readers in the aftermath of the Supreme Court judgment hailed by international media with headlines such as: “India Backs Freedom – Others should Follow” (The Guardian, September 9, 2018), and “India’s Riotous Triumph of Equality” (New York Times, September 7, 2018). My explorations in this book function as a timely reminder about the dangers of celebrating a teleology of sexual progress with set moments of origin and arrival. It makes us acutely aware of the unresolvable contradictions that nestle in the same slice of history.

How do we address the fact that the Supreme Court judgment on Section 377 comes at a time when India has witnessed systemic violence against religious minorities and Dalits, massive unemployment and dismantling of social welfare structures, as well as increasing surveillance in public spaces? “Safe Spaces, Unsafe Times: Support Systems in a Suspended World,” was the title of a workshop held in Delhi on November 2018 that attempted to move beyond the mainstream narrative around the repeal of Section 377 and address the question of larger support systems for gay, lesbian, and transgender persons. The tentative and restless journeys in this book, its reflection on political subjectivity and dispossession, hopes to speak to these dilemmas of our present.

Public interventions such as the dual autobiographical project by Nalini Jameela and the report on lesbian suicides by the activist group, Sahayatrika (Co-traveler), are struggles staged in embattled settings. The forms of self-fashioning we encounter in Unruly Figures are marked by reiteration and failure. Yet the idioms to etch these everyday politics are drawn from the layered imaginations available within “small places.” Cultural practices such as watching soft-porn films and reading pulp fiction play a role in unsettling a disciplined ordering of gender and domesticity in Kerala.

The political is recast in this book for it is routed through unexpected sites, such as the wanderings of two schoolgirls on the run in a 1980s popular Malayalam film. The cover image of this book gives new life to an image from this film that is central to the book. There is much to learn and unlearn from struggles staged in unhomely places—places that bind us and yet they are too close to let go. This doubleness of marginalized subjects and their relation to their immediate surroundings has to be taken into account as we search for an elsewhere. The potential for transformation is kept alive by drawing on the unruly movements generated in the spaces that we inhabit. Thus to engage with the global trajectories of sexuality politics we need to pay heed to vernacular imaginations of sexuality.


Navaneetha Mokkil is assistant professor at the Centre for Women’s Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is the coeditor of Thinking Women: A Feminist Reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racialized Gender Politics and “Women’s History” Month

Featuring Asian American Feminisms and Women of Color Politics for women’s history month offers us the opportunity to speak on the feminist and racialized gender politics that terms like “women” and “women’s history” often serve to marginalize and erase. In many ways, our collection is about naming, addressing and navigating the many silences and invisibilities that emerge not only between the white/Anglo middle-class heterosexual presumptions of who counts as “women” and who determines mainstream feminist agendas, but also between concepts explicitly named in the title: “Asian American” and “Feminisms; “Asian American Feminisms” and “Women of Color Politics.” At the heart of our book is the question, what is an Asian American feminism and what is its genealogy as a political formation? Situated within, and in relation to a Women of Color politics, what are the complexities and contradictions within the field of Asian American feminisms, and what are the possibilities for cross-racial solidarity through an Asian American feminist praxis?

Noting the difficulty to name and identify an existing collection that grapples with the relationship between Asian American feminisms and Women of Color politics, we set out to create a collection that did not assume to be exhaustive of all Asian American ethnicities, identities, or political struggles. Rather, we wanted our contributors to engage the broader political questions: What theoretical interventions, resistant strategies, and epistemic shifts shape the field of Asian American feminisms? How are these central concepts, theories, and praxical strategies in dialogue with the coalitional politics of Women of Color and US Third World feminisms? What tensions or disconnections push against and redefine or re-imagine the possibilities for an Asian American feminist politics? In so doing, we were able to create a collection that not only speaks to particular sites of Asian American feminist epistemologies, struggles, and theorizations traditionally marginalized in mainstream feminist genealogies, we were able to grapple with existing tensions and contradictions within an Asian American feminist approach.

We were clear that we wanted to name and accentuate the on-going political tension between Pacific Islander Studies and Asian American Studies more broadly. While Asian settler-colonialism is recognized within Asian American studies we wanted to push Asian American feminisms to embrace and recognize the two fields as completely separate operating from different histories and epistemological frameworks. Thus, as our author’s Nohelani Teves and Maile Arvin emphasize, we chose not to title the book Asian Pacific American Feminisms, as this falls into the practice of establishing false equivalencies.

As co-editors we consciously engaged in a feminist praxis editorial model. Early on we established ground-rules for collaborative writing, one of which was that we never simply erase or replace each other’s words without consultation. We clearly documented and reiterated our plans, with our deadlines clearly set. We discussed deliberately every issue we encountered knowing the politics at stake, and never minimalized each other’s concerns. We worked closely with the Editor in Chief over major decisions as a collective, neither one of us ever acted or engaged in conversation over decision-making issues without the other’s presence. We sent out carefully crafted invitations, and all email correspondences were seen and edited by each other before they were sent. We crafted a long-term writing system, where we first requested abstracts, discussed them and made decisions, then we requested each contributors first five pages, read them, provided feedback, discussed them, and returned them with suggestions for revisions and our vision on their developing essays. We repeated this process with the next 10 pages, 15 pages, and then the full rough draft. As co-editors we were very hands-on in the development and edited as each chapter came along. This enabled us to engage with each author as they worked through their original essay specifically keeping in mind the larger questions driving this collection.

Throughout the process of editing this collection, we along with our contributors were fortunate to participate in multiple roundtables and panels at several major conferences. Extending this conversation outward we learned early on that wider audiences are still grappling with identifying an Asian American feminisms. In one instance we experienced divergent desires to see a collection that was less theoretically driven and more definitional in scope. We stood committed to developing a collection that could grapple with the larger conceptual frameworks of state and interpersonal-violence, decolonization, and resistance prominent in Women of Color politics yet sorely missing in Asian American feminisms as a collective body. We see this collection as an entry point in which to further timely discussions of coalitional possibilities as Asian American feminists engaging in Women of Color politics.

In the spirit of “women’s history” month, we offer Asian American Feminisms and Women of Color Politics to those who seek to live a political commitment that not only identifies the intricacy of our interlocking oppressions, but also, and most importantly, our expansive and deeply interdependent modes of resisting, building, flourishing, and rising up despite state-sponsored (neo)colonial racial projects seeking to quell our refusals to be complicit in our own and others’ destruction.


Lynn Fujiwara is associate professor at the University of Oregon. She is the author of Mothers without Citizenship: Asian Immigrant Families and the Consequences of Welfare Reform. Shireen Roshanravan is associate professor of American ethnic studies at Kansas State University. She is the coeditor of Speaking Face to Face / Hablando Cara a Cara: The Visionary Philosophy of María Lugones.

2017 National Women’s Studies Association Conference Preview

This week we head to the 2017 National Women’s Studies Association annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland. UW Press editor in chief Larin McLaughlin and assistant editor Niccole Leilanionapae’aina Coggins will be representing the press, premiering several new books, and hosting a celebration of the Feminist Technosciences series with editors, authors, and friends.

Edited by Rebecca Herzig and Banu Subramaniam, Feminist Technosciences seeks to publish emerging, intersectional, cutting-edge feminist work in science and technology studies (learn more in the series brochure). We hope to see you at the booth (#202) on Friday, November 17 at 4 p.m. for the series celebration!

Be sure to stop by to learn more about our new and forthcoming titles in women’s and gender studies, and follow the meeting on social media with the #NWSA2017, #ReadUP, and #LookItUP hashtags.

FEMINIST TECHNOSCIENCES SERIES CELEBRATION

Friday, November 17 at 4 p.m.

Gender before Birth: Sex Selection in a Transnational Context
By Rajani Bhatia
FEBRUARY 2018

Queer Feminist Science Studies: A Reader
Edited by Cyd Cipolla, Kristina Gupta, David A. Rubin, and Angela Willey

Reinventing Hoodia: Peoples, Plants, and Patents in South Africa
By Laura A. Foster

Risky Bodies and Techno-Intimacy: Reflections on Sexuality, Media, Science, Finance
By Geeta Patel

Figuring the Population Bomb: Gender and Demography in the Mid-Twentieth Century
By Carole R. McCann

FORTHCOMING SPRING 2018

Firebrand Feminism: The Radical Lives of Ti-Grace Atkinson, Kathie Sarachild, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and Dana Densmore
By Breanne Fahs
APRIL 2018

Unapologetic, troublemaking, agitating, revolutionary, and hot-headed: radical feminism bravely transformed the history of politics, love, sexuality, and science. Firebrand Feminism brings together ten years of dialogue with four founders of the radical feminist movement and provides a timely and historically rich account of these audacious women and the lasting impact of their words and work.

We Are Dancing for You: Native Feminisms and the Revitalization of Women’s Coming-of-Age Ceremonies
By Cutcha Risling Baldy
JUNE 2018
Indigenous Confluences

“I am here. You will never be alone. We are dancing for you.” So begins this deeply personal account of the revitalization of the women’s coming-of-age ceremony for the Hoopa Valley Tribe. Using a framework of Native feminisms, Risling Baldy locates this revival within a broad context of decolonizing praxis.

OTHER FEATURED TITLES

2017 American Studies Association Conference Preview

We are excited to attend the 2017 annual meeting of the American Studies Association (ASA) in Chicago from November 9-12, 2017.

UW Press editor in chief Larin McLaughlin, interim marketing manager Katherine Tacke, and associate editor and Mellon University Press Diversity Fellow Mike Baccam will be representing the press at booth 205.

We hope you’ll join us at the booth on Friday for signings with Migrating the Black Body coeditor Heike Raphael-Hernandez and Playing While White author David J. Leonard, and on Saturday for signings with Network Sovereignty author Marisa Duarte and Queering Contemporary Asian American Art editors Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe.

Follow along on social media with the #2017ASA hashtag and learn more about the scheduled book signings and other featured titles below!

BOOK SIGNING WITH HEIKE RAPHAEL-HERNANDEZ

Friday, November 10 at 1:45 p.m.

Migrating the Black Body: The African Diaspora and Visual Culture
Edited by Leigh Raiford and Heike Raphael-Hernandez

Migrating the Black Body explores how visual media—from painting to photography, from global independent cinema to Hollywood movies, from posters and broadsides to digital media, from public art to graphic novels—has shaped diasporic imaginings of the individual and collective self.

BOOK SIGNING WITH DAVID J. LEONARD

Friday, November 10 at 3:45 p.m.

Playing While White: Privilege and Power on and off the Field
By David J. Leonard

Whiteness matters in sports culture, both on and off the field. Offering critical analysis of athletic stars such as Johnny Manziel, Marshall Henderson, Jordan Spieth, Lance Armstrong, Josh Hamilton, as well as the predominantly white cultures of NASCAR and extreme sports, David Leonard identifies how whiteness is central to the commodification of athletes and the sports they play.

BOOK SIGNING WITH MARISA DUARTE

Saturday, November 11 at 11:45 a.m.

Network Sovereignty: Building the Internet across Indian Country
By Marisa Duarte

Given the significance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to social and political life, many U.S. tribes and Native organizations have created their own projects, from streaming radio to building networks to telecommunications advocacy. Duarte examines these ICT projects to explore the significance of information flows and information systems to Native sovereignty, and toward self-governance, self-determination, and decolonization.

BOOK SIGNING WITH LAURA KINA AND JAN CHRISTIAN BERNABE

Saturday, November 11 at 1:45 p.m.

Queering Contemporary Asian American Art
Edited by Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe
Foreword by Susette Min

Queering Contemporary Asian American Art takes Asian American differences as its point of departure, and brings together artists and scholars to challenge normative assumptions, essentialisms, and methodologies within Asian American art and visual culture. Taken together, these nine original artist interviews, cutting-edge visual artworks, and seven critical essays explore contemporary currents and experiences within Asian American art, including the multiple axes of race and identity; queer bodies and forms; kinship and affect; and digital identities and performances.

OTHER FEATURED TITLES

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November 2017 News, Reviews, and Events

News

University Press Week is November 6-11 (next week!) and we can’t wait to celebrate the value of our books and expertise of our authors with this year’s theme, #LookItUP: Knowledge Matters.

Find a run-down of online and offline events on the UP Week site and join in with the #ReadUP and #LookItUP hashtags on social media.

In huge literary news, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Seattle as a City of Literature in the Creative Cities Network. Please join us in heartily congratulating all involved in the bid, with a special mention to UW Press staffer and Seattle City of Literature cofounder Rebecca Brinbury! Find more from UNESCO, Seattle City of Literature, and the Seattle Review of Books. Read and write on, Seattle!

Monthly Giveaways

Reviews and Interviews


The Atlantic interviews Pumpkin author Cindy Ott in an article about what counts as a pumpkin. WDEL also interviews the author about the connection between pumpkins and fall.


Tell Me Something I Don’t Know with Stephen J. Dubner features Smell Detectives author Melanie Kiechle in a recent podcast episode all about the senses.
High Country News reviews The Tao of Raven by Ernestine Hayes: “As with Blonde Indian, Hayes blurs the boundaries of genre in The Tao of Raven, which braids sharp grandmotherly meditations and gripping personal history into the fictional storyline of another troubled, typical family. . . . Her prose is as insistent as it is lyrical.”—Rob Rich


Inquirer.net USA reviews A Time to Rise edited by Rene Ciria Cruz, Cindy Domingo, and Bruce Occena: “A Time to Rise comes out at an opportune time as another fascist regime emerges in the Philippines. As in the past, former KDP activists have responded to the call to fight back.”—Boying Pimentel


International Examiner also reviews: “This nearly 20-year project is a remarkable documentation of one of the leading revolutionary Asian American Movement organizations. . . . A Time to Rise provides much greater complexity to teaching and learning about both Filipino American and Asian American movement history. . . . More than lessons of the past, A Time to Rise illuminates the way forward to complete unfinished revolutions.”—Tracy Lai


KING 5 Evening features Razor Clams author David Berger in a new series on Wild Food. Langdon Cook (James Beard Award-winning writer and author of books including Upstream and The Mushroom Hunters) reviews the book on his blog: “For the uninitiated, David Berger’s Razor Clams is just the ticket to understanding what all the fuss is about. Berger is a lively guide to Siliqua patula‘s ecology, culinary lore, and historical importance in the region. . . . Readers looking for such nourishment will find much to savor in this account of a beloved bivalve.”


CASSIUS publishes an article by author David J. Leonard about the Las Vegas shooting, white male terrorism, and how race shapes our reaction to gun violence. Playing While White gets a byline mention. The Undefeated also publishes an adaption from the book. The Seattle Times publishes an opinion piece by the author on WSU football coach Mike Leach using his platform to thwart conversation on racial equity rather than advance it, where the book gets a byline mention.


The Seattle Times reviews “Witness to Wartime” and prominently mentions The Hope of Another Spring: “The book and exhibition, together, shed a powerful new light on a troubling chapter in U.S. history. . . . Compelling as both artwork and history.”—Michael Upchurch


The Everett Herald reviews Territorial Hues by David F. Martin (dist. Cascadia Art Museum): “If you love the Northwest and Northwest regional art, be sure to check out Territorial Hues.”—Gale Fiege


Asia Pacific Forum interviews Queering Contemporary Asian American Art editors Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe.


Publishers Weekly interviews author Ingrid Walker in an article about the recent Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association fall tradeshow. High gets a mention.


The Eureka Times-Standard features Defending Giants by Darren F. Speece in an article about the 40th anniversary of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC). Truthout reviews the book: “Eloquent, inspiring, eminently readable nonfiction with precious lessons for those fighting the ever-greater environmental destruction wrought by corporate greed. . . . A tale fully relevant to here and now.”—Robert James Parsons

New Books

Seismic City: An Environmental History of San Francisco’s 1906 Earthquake
By Joanna L. Dyl
Foreword by Paul S. Sutter

Combining urban environmental history and disaster studies, this close study of San Francisco’s calamitous earthquake and aftermath demonstrates how the crisis and subsequent rebuilding reflect the dynamic interplay of natural and human influences that have shaped San Francisco.


Chinook Resilience: Heritage and Cultural Revitalization on the Lower Columbia River
By Jon D. Daehnke
Foreword by Tony A. Johnson

A collaborative ethnography of how the Chinook Indian Nation, whose land and heritage are under assault, continues to move forward and remain culturally strong and resilient. Chinook Resilience offers a tribally relevant, forward-looking, and decolonized approach for the cultural resilience and survival of the Chinook Indian Nation, even in the face of federal nonrecognition.

Queer Feminist Science Studies: A Reader
Edited by Cyd Cipolla, Kristina Gupta, David A. Rubin, and Angela Willey

The foundational essays and new writings collected here take a transnational, trans-species, and intersectional approach to this cutting-edge area of inquiry between women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and science and technology studies (STS), and demonstrate the ingenuity and dynamism of queer feminist scholarship.


Living Sharia: Law and Practice in Malaysia
By Timothy P. Daniels

What role does sharia play today in Malaysia? Drawing on ethnographic research, this book traces the contested implementation of Islamic family and criminal laws and sharia economics to provide cultural frameworks for understanding sharia among Muslims and non-Muslims in Southeast Asia and beyond.


Mobilizing Krishna’s World: The Writings of Prince Savant Singh of Kishangarh
By Heidi R. M. Pauwels

Through an examination of the life and works of Savant Singh (1697-1764), this remarkable study explores the circulation of ideas and culture in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries in north India, revealing how the Rajput prince mobilized soldiers but also used myths, songs, and stories about saints in order to cope with his personal and political crisis.


The Rebirth of Bodh Gaya: Buddhism and the Making of a World Heritage Site
By David Geary

This multilayered historical ethnography of Bodh Gaya—the place of Buddha’s enlightenment in the north Indian state of Bihar—explores the spatial politics surrounding the transformation of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex into a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002.


The Jewish Bible: A Material History
By David Stern

Drawing on the most recent scholarship on the history of the book, this beautifully illustrated material history shows how the Bible has been not only a medium for transmitting its text—the word of God—but a physical object with a meaning of its own.

Events

NOVEMBER

November 1 at 6:30 p.m., Linda Carlson, Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, Sequim, WA

November 2 at 6 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Washington Athletic Club, Seattle, WA

November 2 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink, Waterway, King County Library System – Mercer Island, Mercer Island, WA

November 4 at 1 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Seward Park Audubon Center, Seattle, WA

November 8 at 6:30 p.m., Linda Carlson, Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, Sequim, WA

November 9 at 6 p.m., Zoltán Grossman, Unlikely Alliances, Orca Books, Olympia, WA

November 9 at 12:30 p.m., David Biggs, Quagmire / War in the Land (forthcoming 2018), University of Washington, Southeast Asia Center, Thomson Room 317, Seattle, WA

November 9 at 7 p.m., Ingrid Walker, High, King’s Books, Tacoma, WA

November 10 at 7 p.m., James Longhurst, Bike Battles, BikePGH and Healthy Ride, Pittsburgh, PA

November 10 – 13, Emily T. Yeh, Mapping Shangrila, 2017 Machik Weekend, New York, NY

November 11 at 10 a.m., David Biggs, Quagmire / War in the Land (forthcoming 2018), Seattle Asian Art Museum, Saturday University, History Flows from the Mekong Mud, Seattle Art Museum, Plestcheeff Auditorium (SAM), Seattle, WA (Get tickets)

November 12 at 4 p.m., David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink, Waterway, Eastside Heritage Center, Bellevue, WA

November 14, Geeta Patel, Risky Bodies and Techno-Intimacy, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA

November 16 at 7 p.m., Melanie A. Kiechle, Smell Detectives, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA

November 16 at 6 p.m., Zhi LIN (dist. for Tacoma Art Museum), Tacoma Art Museum, Artist Talk: Conversation with Zhi LIN and Chief Curator Rock Hushka, Tacoma, WA

November 17 at 10 a.m., David E. Wilkins and Shelly Hulse Wilkins, Dismembered, Symposium on Tribal Citizenship, San Diego State University, Scripps Cottage, San Diego, CA

November 18 at 3 p.m., Seattle7Writers Holiday Bookfest with Kathleen Alcalá (The Deepest Roots) and David B. Williams (Seattle Walks), Seattle, WA

November 19 at 2 p.m., Linda Carlson, Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, Snoqualmie Valley History Society, King County Library System – North Bend, North Bend, WA

November 22 at 7 p.m., Cindy Domingo, A Time to Rise, with Vincente Rafael (Motherless Tongues), Duterte’s War: The Current Crisis in the Philippines and Beyond, Third Place Books – Seward Park, Seattle, WA

DECEMBER

December 2 at 11 a.m., Zoltán Grossman, Unlikely Alliances, Hoquiam Timberland Library, Hoquiam, WA

December 10 at noon, Shelley Drake Hawks, The Art of Resistance, Full Circle Bookstore, Oklahoma City, OK

December 14 at 7 p.m., Shelley Drake Hawks, The Art of Resistance, Concord Free Public Library, Concord, MA

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Q&A with ‘Risky Bodies and Techno-Intimacy’ author Geeta Patel

Risky Bodies & Techno-Intimacy traverses disparate and uncommon routes to explore how people grapple with the radical uncertainties of their lives. In this edgy, evocative journey through myriad interleaved engagements–including the political economies of cinema; the emergent shapes taken by insurance, debt, and mortgages; gender and sexuality; and domesticity and nationalism–author Geeta Patel demonstrates how science and technology ground our everyday intimacies. The result is a deeply poetic and philosophical exploration of the intricacies of techno-intimacy, revealing a complicated and absorbing narrative that challenges assumptions underlying our daily living.

Today we talk to the author about her book, publishing soon in our Feminist Technosciences series. 

What inspired you to get into your field?

Geeta Patel: I don’t have a field in any strict sense, although most of my friends now would think of me as a literary ‘type.’ I, however, don’t think of myself that way. I compose in visual metaphors, and the way I look at things askance, as though they were transparent and opaque at the same time, is as a scientist who loves poetry.

I grew up in a family full of women doctors, which along with the push toward science if you grew up in South Asia and had even a vestige of a brain, meant I ended up being saddled with science, specializing in the sciences from when I was eleven years old. But I loved all the sciences, particularly ‘the natural sciences’ with the kind of curiosity of many eighteenth-century scientists. In that period ‘scientific’ curiosity leaked out into more than what we would now call science. It embraced poetry, literary prose, questions of politics, the ways in which money and goods moved, finance, drawings, maps, and instruments. A sort of porous curiosity, rather than directed curiosity along blinkered pathways. Eighteenth-century journals, as well as the South Asian magazines of my childhood, had tidbits on science, poetry, politics, fiction, oddities from the ambit of the political, and off-kilter instruments of measurement. This is what I grew up reading and it is was as though they all belonged in the same place and together made sense.

So when I think of what my ‘field’ consists of, it lives at the cusp of all these things. Where more than one intellectual formation or terrain fades into each other, informs each other, pushes at each other, and inflects each other. And a field formation gets taken up in such a way that it makes an assumption in another field discomfiting. One such place I approach/broach that in Risky Bodies & Techno-Intimacy is the technology of time.

What would you have been if not an academic?

GP: Probably a health practitioner, a healer.

Why did you want to write this book?

GP: I wanted to sit with, ponder, think about, and ruminate on the places, moments, pauses, and sudden jolts where I stopped thinking. Where my capacity to envision something else failed me, felt as though it had faded from my grasp. Many intellectuals imagine this as the horizon towards which one ambles, gallops, or comes up against in some putative future. When I was writing my previous book on the Urdu poet Miraji, I came to see it as he had, and how the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein had, as that which is inside what we think, visualize, do. The bedrock of belief lives where we come to a grinding halt, and we find ourselves in a double bind—facing what we must let go of, but can’t. How could we, following on Michel Foucault and Marcel Mauss, understand these as technologies that make us who we are, which are the armature of our very ordinary, everyday habits?

I also wanted to mess with what had come to be conventional ways of bringing intellectual fields together. I wanted to make that broaching or bridging awkward—and this is what I practice in Risky Bodies & Techno-Intimacy. What would chemistry do to transgender possibilities in South Asia? What would it mean to transmute the aesthetics of linear time to lay out the gatherings that took on the resistance to a film on sexuality? How would the historical congruencies between these events and the fights over insurance in the Indian parliament give us insights? Allow us to delve into the modes through which financing loss became the conduit to grapple with the political desires that undergird nationalism? In the process how would science emerge in writing about events that might, in some simple way, not be said to be scientific (in the ways we now see science)?

Who do you see as the audience for this book?

GP: Everyone, feminists, science studies aficionados, cultural studies scholars, media studies scholars, finance practitioners, political theorists, literary theorists. In India I have found the audience to include artists, film-makers, fiction writers, poets, and non-academics.

What is your next project?

GP: I have many ongoing projects. One is a book on Ismat Chughtai, in particular on two of her short stories. That book interrogates the lineages of historical realism in South Asia. It brings quantum and relativity as conduits through which I can grapple with the desires that readers ferry along with them as they read fiction and mine it for information. One is a book on 1950s and ‘60s billboards in Mumbai, and I look at what they reveal about advertising, fiscal fantasies, national sentiment, and nationalist aesthetics in post-colonial states. Another is about the long history of pensions and insurance in South Asia. One of the first of its chapters rethinks the eighteenth-century history of capitalism through colonial pensions.


Geeta Patel is associate professor of both Middle Eastern and South Asian languages and cultures and of women, gender, and sexuality at the University of Virginia. She is author of Lyrical Movements, Historical Hauntings: Gender, Colonialism, and Desire in Miraji’s Urdu Poetry.