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Women's & Gender Studies: Home

Welcome to the Women's & Gender Studies Subject Guide

I am committed to cultivating an inclusive and equitable learning environment where you are respected and welcomed—an environment in which the diverse perspectives and experiences of people of all sexual and romantic orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and multiple/intersecting identities are valued, embraced, and celebrated. 

Libraries and archives should be for and about everyone, but the real often falls short of the ideal. Because materials are created and collected by people, libraries and other repositories are subject to both individual and institutional biases—and the experiences of those with historically marginalized identities have frequently been distorted, constrained, or erased. These appropriations, misrepresentations, limitations, and silences must be acknowledged and redressed. One of the ways to do this is by empowering our patrons, complicating notions of authority, and working collaboratively to explore and create knowledge.

 

If you need research help or would like to schedule a Library Instruction session for one of your classes, please contact the Women's & Gender Studies Subject Specialist Dee Anna Phares at dphares@niu.edu or (815) 753-1770.

New Books

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We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics

2021 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST Finalist for the Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature.

Editors Andrea Abi-Karam and Kay Gabriel offer We Want it All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics as an experiment into how far literature, written from an identitarian standpoint, can go as a fellow traveler with social movements and revolutionary demands. Writing in dialogue with emancipatory political movements, the intergenerational writers assembled here imagine an altogether overturned world in poems that pursue the particular and multiple trans relationships to desire, embodiment, housing, sex, ecology, history, pop culture, and the working day.

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Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women's Fight for their Rights

The ongoing struggle for women's rights has spanned human history, touched nearly every culture on Earth, and encompassed a wide range of issues, such as the right to vote, work, get an education, own property, exercise bodily autonomy, and beyond. Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is a fun and fascinating graphic novel-style primer that covers the key figures and events that have advanced women's rights from antiquity to the modern era. In addition, this compelling book illuminates the stories of notable women throughout history--from queens and freedom fighters to warriors and spies--and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history, including abolition, suffrage, labor, civil rights, LGBTQ liberation, reproductive rights, and more. Examining where we've been, where we are, and where we're going, Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is an indispensable resource for people of all genders interested in the fight for a more liberated future.

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Affect, Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

This book emphasizes the significance of affects, feelings and emotions in how we think about politics, gender and sexuality in Latin America. Considering the complex and even contradictory social processes that the region is experiencing today, many Latin American authors are turning to affect to find a key to understand our present situation, to revisit our history, and to imagine new possibilities for the future. This tendency has shown such a specificity and sometimes departure from northern productions that it compels us to focus more deeply on its own arguments, methods, and critical contributions. This volume features essays that explore the particularities of Latin American ways of thinking about affect and how they can shed new light into our understanding of, gender, sexuality and politics.

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The Futures of Feminism

This book makes the case for an inclusive form of socialist feminism that puts women with multiple disadvantages at its heart. It moves feminism beyond contemporary disputes, including those between some feminists and some trans women. Combining academic rigour with accessibility, the book demystifies some key feminist terms, including patriarchy and intersectionality, and shows their relevance to feminist politics today. It argues that the analysis of gender cannot be isolated from that of class or race, and that the needs of most women will not be met in an economy based on the pursuit of profit. Throughout, the book asserts the social, economic and human importance of the unpaid caring and domestic work that has been traditionally done by women. It concludes that there are some grounds for optimism about a future that could be both more feminist and more socialist.

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The American LGBTQ Rights Movement

The American LGBTQ Rights Movement: An Introduction is a chronological survey of the LGBTQ fight for equal rights from the turn of the 20th century to the early 21st century. Illustrated with historical photographs, the book beautifully reveals the heroic people and key events that shaped the American LGBTQ rights movement. The book includes personal narratives to capture the lived experience from each era, as well as details of essential organizations, texts, and court cases that defined LGBTQ activism and advocacy.

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Fat and Queer

AASECT Book Award for General Audience. We're here. We're queer. We're fat. This one-of-a-kind collection of prose and poetry radically explores the intersection of fat and queer identities, showcasing new, emerging and established queer and trans writers from around the world. Celebrating fat and queer bodies and lives, this book challenges negative and damaging representations of queer and fat bodies and offers readers ways to reclaim their bodies, providing stories of support, inspiration and empowerment. In writing that is intimate, luminous and emotionally raw, this anthology is a testament to the diversity and power of fat queer voices and experiences, and they deserve to be heard.

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Building Womanist Coalitions

Over the last generation, the womanist idea--and the tradition blooming around it--has emerged as an important response to separatism, domination, and oppression. Gary L. Lemons gathers a diverse group of writers to discuss their scholarly and personal experiences with the womanist spirit of women of color feminisms. Feminist and womanist-identified educators, students, performers, and poets model the powerful ways that crossing borders of race, gender, class, sexuality, and nation-state affiliation(s) expands one's existence. At the same time, they bear witness to how the self-liberating theory and practice of women of color feminism changes one's life. Throughout, the essayists come together to promote an unwavering vein of activist comradeship capable of building political alliances dedicated to liberty and social justice. Contributors: M. Jacqui Alexander, Dora Arreola, Andrea Assaf, Kendra N. Bryant, Rudolph P. Byrd, Atika Chaudhary, Paul T. Corrigan, Fanni V. Green, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Susan Hoeller, Ylce Irizarry, M. Thandabantu Iverson, Gary L. Lemons, Layli Maparyan, and Erica C. Sutherlin

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One-Dimensional Queer

The story of gay rights has long been told as one of single-minded focus on the fight for sexual freedom. Yet its origins are much more complicated than this single-issue interpretation would have us believe, and to ignore gay liberation's multidimensional beginnings is to drastically underestimate its radical potential for social change. Ferguson shows how queer liberation emerged out of various insurgent struggles crossing the politics of race, gender, class, and sexuality, and deeply connected to issues of colonization, incarceration, and capitalism. Tracing the rise and fall of this intersectional politics, he argues that the one-dimensional mainstreaming of queerness falsely placed critiques of racism, capitalism, and the state outside the remit of gay liberation. As recent activism is increasingly making clear, this one-dimensional legacy has promoted forms of exclusion that marginalize queers of color, the poor, and transgender individuals. This forceful book joins the call to reimagine and reconnect the fight for social justice in all its varied forms.

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The Comics of Julie Doucet and Gabrielle Bell

In this volume, editors Tahneer Oksman and Seamus O'Malley regard Doucet's and Bell's art as actively feminist, not only because they offer women's perspectives, but because they do so by provocatively bringing up the complicated, multivalent frameworks of such engagements. By pairing Doucet alongside Bell, the book recognizes the significance of female networks, and the social and cultural connections, associations, and conditions that shape every work of art. In addition to original essays, this volume republishes interviews with the artists. By reading Doucet's and Bell's comics together in this volume housed in a series devoted to single-creator studies, the book shows how despite the importance of finding "a place inside yourself" to create, this space seems always for better or worse a shared space culled from and subject to surrounding lives, experiences, and subjectivities.

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Trans Bodies, Trans Selves

There is no one way to be transgender.Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a revolutionary resource - a comprehensive, reader-friendly guide for transgender people, with each chapter written by transgender and gender expansive authors. Inspired by Our Bodies, Ourselves, the classic and powerful compendium written by and for cisgender women,Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is widely accessible to the transgender population, providing authoritative information in an inclusive and respectful way and representing the collective knowledge base of dozens of influential experts. Each chapter takes the reader through an important issue, such asrace, religion, employment, medical and surgical transition, mental health, relationships, sexuality, parenthood, arts and culture, and many more. Anonymous quotes, testimonials, art and poetry from transgender people are woven throughout, adding compelling, personal voices to every page. In thisunique way, hundreds of viewpoints from throughout the community have united to create this strong and pioneering book. It is a welcoming place for transgender and gender-questioning people, their partners and families, students, professors, guidance counselors, and others to look for up-to-dateinformation on transgender life. The content of the second edition of this award-winning resource will be thoroughly updated throughout and will include entirely new stories, artwork, and illustrations as well as dozens of new contributing authors and collaborators.

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Call Your "Mutha'"

The ecocide and domination of nature that is the Anthropocene does not represent the actions of all humans, but that of Man, the Western and masculine identified corporate, military, intellectual, and political class that long has masked itself as the civilized and the human. In this book, Jane Caputi looks at two major "myths" of the Earth, one ancient and one contemporary, and uses them to devise a manifesto for the survival of nature - which includes human beings - in our current ecological crisis. These are the myths of Mother Earth and the Anthropocene. The former personifies nature as a figure with the power to give life or death, and one who shares a communal destiny with all other living things. The latter myth sees humans as exceptional for exerting an implicitly sexual domination of Mother Earth through technological achievement, from the plow to synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. Much that we take for granted as inferior or taboo is based in a splitting apart of inherent unities: culture-nature; up-down, male-female; spirit-matter; mind-body; life-death; sacred-profane; reason-madness; human-beast; light-dark. The first is valued and the second reviled. This provides the framework for any number of related injustices - sexual, racial, and ecological. This book resists this pattern, in part, by deliberately putting the dirty back into the mind, the obscene back into the sacred, and vice versa. Ecofeminism and Environmental Justice argue for the significance and reality of the Earth Mother. 

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Carnival Is Woman

Contributions by Darrell Gerohn Baksh, Jan de Cosmo, Frances Henry, Jeff Henry, Adanna Kai Jones, Samantha Noel, Dwaine Plaza, Philip W. Scher, and Asha St. Bernard Women are performing an ever-growing role in Caribbean Carnival. Through a feminist perspective, this volume examines the presence of women in contemporary Carnival by demonstrating not only their strength in numbers, but also the ways in which women participate in the event. While decried by traditionalists, the bikinis, beads, and feathers of "pretty mas" convey both a newly found empowerment as a gendered resistance to oppression from men. Although research on Carnivals is substantial, especially in the Americas, the subject of women in Carnival as a topic of inquiry remains fairly new. These essays address anthropological and historical facets of women and their practices in the Trinidad Carnival, including an analysis of how women's costuming and performance have changed over time. 

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The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games

In The Queer Games Avant-Garde, Bonnie Ruberg presents twenty interviews with twenty-two queer video game developers whose radical, experimental, vibrant, and deeply queer work is driving a momentous shift in the medium of video games. Speaking with insight and candor about their creative practices as well as their politics and passions, these influential and innovative game makers tell stories about their lives and inspirations, the challenges they face, and the ways they understand their places within the wider terrain of video game culture. Their insights go beyond typical conversations about LGBTQ representation in video games or how to improve "diversity" in digital media. Instead, they explore queer game-making practices, the politics of queer independent video games, how queerness can be expressed as an aesthetic practice, the influence of feminist art on their work, and the future of queer video games and technology. These engaging conversations offer a portrait of an influential community that is subverting and redefining the medium of video games by placing queerness front and center. 

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Intersectionality in Feminist and Queer Movements

Examining the ways in which feminist and queer activists confront privilege through the use of intersectionality, this edited collection presents empirical case studies from around the world to consider how intersectionality has been taken up (or indeed contested) by activists in order to expose and resist privilege. The volume sets out three key ways in which intersectionality operates within feminist and queer movements: it is used as a collective identity, as a strategy for forming coalitions, and as a repertoire for inclusivity. The case studies presented in this book then evaluate the extent to which some, or all, of these types of intersectional activism are used to confront manifestations of privilege. Drawing upon a wide range of cases from across time and space, this volume explores the difficulties with which activists often grapple when it comes to translating the desire for intersectionality into a praxis which confronts privilege. Addressing inter-related and politically relevant questions concerning how we apply and theorise intersectionality in our studies of feminist and queer movements, this timely edited collection will be of interest to students and scholars from across the social sciences and humanities with an interest in gender and feminism, LGBT+ and queer studies, and social movement studies.

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Knowing Women

Knowing Women is a study of same-sex desire in West Africa, which explores the lives and friendships of working-class women in southern Ghana who are intimately involved with each other. Based on in-depth research of the life histories of women in the region, Serena O. Dankwa highlights the vibrancy of everyday same-sex intimacies that have not been captured in a globally pervasive language of sexual identity. Paying close attention to the women's practices of self-reference, Dankwa refers to them as 'knowing women' in a way that both distinguishes them from, and relates them to categories such as lesbian or supi, a Ghanaian term for female friend. In doing so, this study is not only a significant contribution to the field of global queer studies in which both women and Africa have been underrepresented, but a starting point to further theorize the relation between gender, kinship, and sexuality that is key to queer, feminist, and postcolonial theories. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.

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Men in the Mirror: Men's Fashion, Masculinity and Consumer Society

This contribution to men's studies examines the emergence of masculinity as a marketing tool through the proliferation of men's style magazines, to the stylized images of masculinity which are used to sell products such as deodorants or jeans. The text explores how masculinity has been constructed in the consumer society, and analyzes the hierarchy of masculinity which valorizes some men and denigrates others.

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Queer Times, Black Futures

Finalist, 2019 Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Studies A profound intellectual engagement with Afrofuturism and the philosophical questions of space and time Queer Times, Black Futures considers the promises and pitfalls of imagination, technology, futurity, and liberation as they have persisted in and through racial capitalism. Kara Keeling explores how the speculative fictions of cinema, music, and literature that center black existence provide scenarios wherein we might imagine alternative worlds, queer and otherwise. In doing so, Keeling offers a sustained meditation on contemporary investments in futurity, speculation, and technology, paying particular attention to their significance to queer and black freedom. Keeling reads selected works, such as Sun Ra's 1972 film Space is the Place and the 2005 film The Aggressives, to juxtapose the Afrofuturist tradition of speculative imagination with the similar "speculations" of corporate and financial institutions. In connecting a queer, cinematic reordering of time with the new possibilities technology offers, Keeling thinks with and through a vibrant conception of the imagination as a gateway to queer times and black futures, and the previously unimagined spaces that they can conjure.

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Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis

Winner, 2017 Sex and Gender Distinguished Book Award, presented by the American Sociological Association Winner, 2016 Donald Light Award for the Applied or Public Practice of Medical Sociology, presented by the American Sociological Association.

A personal, compelling perspective on how medical diagnoses can profoundly hurt, or help, the lived experiences of entire communities When sociologist Georgiann Davis was a teenager, her doctors discovered that she possessed XY chromosomes, marking her as intersex. Rather than share this information with her, they withheld the diagnosis in order to "protect" the development of her gender identity; it was years before Davis would see her own medical records as an adult and learn the truth. Davis' experience is not unusual. In Contesting Intersex, Davis draws on interviews with intersex people, their parents, and medical experts to explore the oft-questioned views on intersex in medical and activist communities, as well as the evolution of thought in regards to intersex visibility and transparency. 

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Women's Lived Experiences of the Gender Gap

This book explores gender inequity and the gender gap from a range of perspectives including historical, motherhood, professional life and diversity. Using a narrative approach, the book shares diverse experiences and perspectives of the gender gap and the pervasive impact it has. Through authors' in-depth insights and critical analysis, each chapter addresses the gender gap by providing a nuanced understanding of the impact of the particular lens. It shares a holistic understanding of lived experiences of gender inequity. The book offers interdisciplinary insights into current political, social, economic and cultural impacts on women and their lived experiences of inequity. It provides multiple voices from across the world and draws on narrative approaches to sharing evidence-based insights. It includes further insights and critique of each chapter to widen the perspectives shared as the gender gap is explored and provide rigorous discussion about what possibilities and challenges are inherent in the proposed solutions as well as offering new ones. 

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Trans-Affirmative Parenting

First-hand accounts of how parents support their transgender children There is a new generation of parents and families who are identifying, supporting, and raising transgender children. Rahilly provides a window into parents' experiences, exploring how they come to terms with new ideas about gender, sexuality, identity, and the body, as well as examining their complex deliberations about nonbinary possibilities and medical interventions. Ultimately, Rahilly compassionately shows how parents can best advocate for transgender awareness and move beyond traditional gendered expectations. She also shows that child-centered, child-driven parenting is as central to this new trans-affirmative paradigm as growing LGBTQ awareness. 

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Queer Voices in Hip Hop: Cultures, Communities, and Contemporary Performance

Notions of hip hop authenticity, as expressed both within hip hop communities and in the larger American culture, rely on the construction of the rapper as a Black, masculine, heterosexual, cisgender man who enacts a narrative of struggle and success. In Queer Voices in Hip Hop, Lauron J. Kehrer turns our attention to openly queer and trans rappers and positions them within a longer Black queer musical lineage. Combining musical, textual, and visual analysis with reception history, this book reclaims queer involvement in hip hop by tracing the genre's beginnings within Black and Latinx queer music-making practices and spaces, demonstrating that queer and trans rappers draw on Ballroom and other cultural expressions particular to queer and trans communities of color in their work in order to articulate their subject positions. By centering the performances of openly queer and trans artists of color, Queer Voices in Hip Hop reclaims their work as essential to the development and persistence of hip hop in the United States as it tells the story of hip hop's queer roots.

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Autoethnography As Feminist Method: Sensitising the Feminist 'I'

Autoethnography is an ideal method to study the 'feminist I'. Through personal stories, the author reflects on how feminists negotiate agency and the effect this has on one's political sensibilities. Speaking about oneself transforms into stories of political responsibility - a key issue for feminists who function as cultural mediators.

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Supporting Transgender Students

Supporting Transgender Students provides a clear roadmap and practical examples for how to take action in your school to effect change and create a gender inclusive community. 

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Pleasure Activism: The politics of Feeling Good

How do we make social justice the most pleasurable human experience? How can we awaken within ourselves desires that make it impossible to settle for anything less than a fulfilling life? Author and editor Adrienne Maree Brown finds the answer in something she calls "pleasure activism," a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work. Drawing on the black feminist tradition, she challenges us to rethink the ground rules of activism. Her mindset-altering essays are interwoven with conversations and insights from other feminist thinkers, including Audre Lorde, Joan Morgan, Cara Page, Sonya Renee Taylor, and Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Together they cover a wide array of subjects--from sex work to climate change, from race and gender to sex and drugs--building new narratives about how politics can feel good and how what feels good always has a complex politics of its own. 

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OutWrite: The Speeches that Shaped LGBTQ Literary Culture

Running from 1990 to 1999, the annual OutWrite conference played a pivotal role in shaping LGBTQ literary culture in the United States and its emerging canon. OutWrite provided a space where literary lions who had made their reputations before the gay liberation movement--like Edward Albee, John Rechy, and Samuel R. Delany--could mingle, network, and flirt with a new generation of emerging queer writers like Tony Kushner, Alison Bechdel, and Sarah Schulman.    This collection gives readers a taste of this fabulous moment in LGBTQ literary history with twenty-seven of the most memorable speeches from the OutWrite conference, including both keynote addresses and panel presentations. These talks are drawn from a diverse array of contributors, including Allen Ginsberg, Judy Grahn, Essex Hemphill, Patrick Califia, Dorothy Allison, Allan Gurganus, Chrystos, John Preston, Linda Villarosa, Edmund White, and many more.    OutWrite offers readers a front-row seat to the passionate debates, nascent identity politics, and provocative ideas that helped animate queer intellectual and literary culture in the 1990s. Covering everything from racial representation to sexual politics, the still-relevant topics in these talks are sure to strike a chord with today's readers.

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Living a Feminist Life

In Living a Feminist Life Sara Ahmed shows how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. Building on legacies of feminist of color scholarship in particular, Ahmed offers a poetic and personal meditation on how feminists become estranged from worlds they critique--often by naming and calling attention to problems--and how feminists learn about worlds from their efforts to transform them. Ahmed also provides her most sustained commentary on the figure of the feminist killjoy introduced in her earlier work while showing how feminists create inventive solutions--such as forming support systems--to survive the shattering experiences of facing the walls of racism and sexism. The killjoy survival kit and killjoy manifesto, with which the book concludes, supply practical tools for how to live a feminist life, thereby strengthening the ties between the inventive creation of feminist theory and living a life that sustains it.

A Companion to Global Gender History

Provides a completely updated survey of the major issues in gender history from geographical, chronological, and topical perspectives   This new edition examines the history of women over thousands of years, studies their interaction with men in a gendered world, and looks at the role of gender in shaping human behavior. It includes thematic essays that offer a broad foundation for key issues such as family, labor, sexuality, race, and material culture, followed by chronological and regional essays stretching from the earliest human societies to the contemporary period. The book offers readers a diverse selection of viewpoints from an authoritative team of international authors and reflects questions that have been explored in different cultural and historiographic traditions.   Filled with contributions from both scholars and teachers, A Companion to Global Gender History, Second Edition makes difficult concepts understandable to all levels of students. It presents evidence for complex assertions regarding gender identity, and grapples with evolving notions of gender construction. In addition, each chapter includes suggestions for further reading in order to provide readers with the necessary tools to explore the topic further.  Features newly updated and brand-new chapters filled with both thematic and chronological-geographic essays  Discusses recent trends in gender history, including material culture, sexuality, transnational developments, science, and intersectionality  Presents a diversity of viewpoints, with chapters by scholars from across the world  A Companion to Global Gender History is an excellent book for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students involved in gender studies and history programs. It will also appeal to more advanced scholars seeking an introduction to the field. 

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Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work, and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala

In Unruly Figures, Navaneetha Mokkil tracks the cultural practices through which sexual figures--particularly the sex worker and the lesbian--are produced in the public imagination. Her analysis includes representations of the prostitute figure in popular media, trajectories of queerness in Malayalam films, public discourse on lesbian sexuality, the autobiographical project of sex worker and activist Nalini Jameela, and the memorialization of murdered transgender activist Sweet Maria, showing how various marginalized figures stage their own fractured journeys of resistance in the post-1990s context of globalization. By bringing a substantial body of Malayalam-language literature and media texts on gender, sexuality, and social justice into conversation with current debates around sexuality studies and transnational feminism in Asian and Anglo-American academia, Mokkil reorients the debates on sexuality in India by considering the fraught trajectories of identity and rights.

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Twenty-First-Century Feminismos: Women's Movements in Latin America and the Caribbean

Twenty-First-Century Feminismos examines ten case studies from eight different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to better understand the ways in which women's and feminist movements react to, are shaped by, and advance social change. A closer look at women's movements in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, Mexico, and Uruguay uncovers broader recurrent patterns at the regional level, such as the persistence of certain grievances historically harboured by regional movements, the rise in prominence of varying claims, and the emergence of novel organizational structures, repertoires, and mobilization strategies. Dissimilarities among the cases are also brought to light, including the composition of these movements, their success in effecting policy change in specific areas, and the particular conditions that surround their mobilization and struggles. 

Queer Data

Data has never mattered more. Our lives are increasingly shaped by it and how it is defined, collected and used. But who counts in the collection, analysis and application of data?This important book is the first to look at queer data - defined as data relating to gender, sex, sexual orientation and trans identity/history. The author shows us how current data practices reflect an incomplete account of LGBTQ lives and helps us understand how data biases are used to delegitimise the everyday experiences of queer people.Guyan demonstrates why it is important to understand, collect and analyse queer data, the benefits and challenges involved in doing so, and how we might better use queer data in our work. Arming us with the tools for action, this book shows how greater knowledge about queer identities is instrumental in informing decisions about resource allocation, changes to legislation, access to services, representation and visibility.