This virtual issue draws on the Signs archive to provide resources to contextualize, criticize, and analyze the current political crisis. The issue makes clear the urgent need to apply a feminist lens to the reinvigorated attacks on women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ people that have been precipitated, most immediately in the US, by the election of Donald Trump. The issue also aims to show that feminist thought—which has long been concerned with analyzing and resisting policy agendas, political discourses, and cultural phenomena that promote sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia—can play a key role in promoting forms of solidarity, strategy, and activism to resist these forces and to imagine alternative futures.
We hope the articles contained in the virtual issue will be of use to teachers, students, and activists—anyone with an agenda of resistance. These articles are meant to be illustrative and suggestive, not exhaustive, of Signs‘ content in these areas.
To celebrate Signs‘ fortieth year of publication, this project uses digital techniques to explore the journal’s archive, the changes in the journal’s content over time, and its role in shaping the field of Women’s, Gender, and Feminist Studies. An interactive visualization of a topic model of the Signs archive allows in-depth exploration of the changes in the journal over time. Trace each topic over time to view shifts in academic feminist discourse, view bibliographies of the articles most associated with each topic, discover special issues, or peruse the extensive bibliography of all articles included in the model. Eminent feminist scholars provide Editorial Commentaries to reflect on the history of Signs, provide insights into the changing landscape of feminist scholarship, and contextualize and interpret the topic model. This section includes essays by Founding Editor Catharine R. Stimpson, current Editor Mary Hawkesworth, past Editors Jean Fox O’Barr and Kathryn Norberg, and incoming Editor Suzanna Danuta Walters, as well as many Signs Associate Editors and other feminist scholars. Curated Tables of Contents provide edited selections of articles in ten broad areas that have remained of enduring interest over Signs‘ forty years of publication. A Cocitation Network Graph draws from Signs reference lists to interactively reveal key texts, links, and conversations that have shaped the field. Finally, a Cover Art Gallery presents the striking designs and artworks that have graced the covers of Signs over the years.
In conjunction with Rutgers Institute for Women and Art’s “Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society” project, Signs presents a special virtual issue addressing the complexity of women’s lives, livelihoods, and circumstances in North Africa and the Middle East. Drawn from essays published in the journal over the past two decades, this wide-ranging, interdisciplinary collection explores political engagement and protest; sexuality, marriage, and family life; Islamicization and secularism; the politics of resistance in public and private spheres; cultural production and translation; migration and diaspora; labor and class within and across nations; agency and identity; and conflict and postconflict situations. As a compendium of sophisticated feminist scholarship on the Middle East, North Africa, and their diasporas, the issue is a vital teaching tool and scholarly resource.