Three esteemed feminist science-studies scholars—Sarah Richardson, Rene Almeling, and Natali Valdez—discuss reproduction in the age of epigenetics. They offer a critical appraisal of recent developments in the much-hyped field of epigenetics, particularly as those developments have focused on reproduction. Their discussion provides a crucial corrective as the biological sciences push for more epigenetic and high-tech approaches to reproductive health. Their feminist lens allows them to ask new questions and push back against scientific approaches that continue to place responsibility for managing reproductive risk onto individual women. They ask why these new epigenetic approaches—which even feminists had hoped might lead to more capacious or holistic understandings of reproduction—ultimately fail to live up to their own hype.
On this episode, Sandra McEvoy speaks to Jennifer Fluri about what the United States’s withdrawal from Afghanistan means for Afghan women and for the feminist movement in Afghanistan. Jennifer’s expertise as a geographer and her transnational feminist perspective are sorely needed in this perilous moment. As the withdrawal was under way, we heard familiar concerns–voiced by pundits and politicians–about the plight of Afghan women under the Taliban. But the broader context of the long US occupation, its effects on gender relations, and the history of women’s organizing in Afghanistan makes for a much more complicated picture, as you’ll hear. Jennifer–a professor of geography at University of Colorado Boulder who has worked in and on Afghanistan for almost twenty years–illuminates this complex history in this conversation with Sandra, who is clinical associate professor of political science at Boston University and a member of the Signs editorial board.
A conversation about the field of trans studies between V Varun Chaudhy and Susan Stryker. V is an assistant professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Brandeis and a member of the Signs board of associate editors. Susan is a founding editor of the journal TSQ and a major figure in the development of trans studies as a field. In the interview, they discuss the social and political context for the emergence trans studies, including its roots in feminist theory, and what its institutionalization (including the found of TSQ) has meant for the field. They also share insights about how trans feminism can combat new forms of transphobia, and, beyond that, how trans feminism can provide necessary tools for enacting new forms of sociality.
Patricia J. Williams, the renowned feminist theorist and legal scholar joins Carla Kaplan and Durba Mitra, two of the coeditors of the upcoming special issue of Signs on “Rage,” to talk about the multiple crises we face at the current moment, from Donald Trump’s cruel legacy of misogyny and racism to the failures of market-based approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also discuss new forms of surveillance that have emerged during the pandemic and the disproportionate levels of emotional labor that particular groups, particularly black women, have been expected to take on throughout Trump’s presidency.
Activist, writer, and advocate Eesha Pandit and professor of English Paula Moya discuss the relationship between feminist scholarship and feminist activism, and how feminist activists and scholars can best support one another’s work. What makes a good ally? How can we build systems of accountability among and between scholars and activists? How can we most productively use identity as the basis for organizing action? The conversation is facilitated by Signs editorial board chair Carla Kaplan and Signs editor in chief Suzanna Walters. Recorded live at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference.
Byllye Avery, cofounder of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, speaks to historian Susan Reverby about her activist work, beginning in the 1970s, to increase women’s access to abortion. She discusses the state of reproductive rights before and after Roe v. Wade, the genesis of the “reproductive justice” movement, and the tactics that might be needed in a post-Roe future.
Ask a Feminist is part of the Feminist Public Intellectuals Project, which provides a host of free feminist resources (http://signsjournal.org/fpip).
How has feminism shaped US asylum law? Why and how is the Trump Administration trying to undo feminist gains? Hear asylum- and refugee-law expert Deborah Anker discuss the history and present of gender in the US asylum system in the latest episode of Ask a Feminist. Anker is the founder and director of the Harvard Law School Immigration and Refugee Law Clinical Program and is one of the most widely known asylum scholars and practitioners in the United States. She speaks to Aziza Ahmed, professor of law at Northeastern University School of Law, and takes us through the key cases and arguments that have led to the current moment, the transformations the system is currently undergoing, and why she is less pessimistic than might be expected. A transcript is also available on our website (http://signsjournal.org/ask-a-feminist/).
The theme song is “I Dunno” by Grapes, available on SoundCloud.
Feminist journalist, media critic, and activist Soraya Chemaly joins Carla Kaplan and Durba Mitra for an in-depth discussion of feminist rage. Their wide-raging conversation covers many aspects of contemporary women’s rage: the Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation process, the furor over Serena Williams’s US Open final, and how to differentiate progressive anger from the reactionary anger that has fueled the Right, including the rise of Trump.
A transcript of the interview is available at http://signsjournal.org/soraya-chemaly/. Our theme song is “I Dunno” by Grapes, available on SoundCloud.
Renowned scholar and activist Cynthia Enloe (Research Professor at Clark University) sits down with the coeditors of the forthcoming Signs special issue “Gender and the Rise of the Global Right”–Agnieszka Graff, Ratna Kapur, and Suzanna Danuta Walters–to analyze the relationship between gender and the increasing prominence of right-wing political figures and parties around the globe. They discuss the extent to which ideas about gender fuel right-wing movements, the currents of antifeminism and antigenderism, and the possibilities for transnational feminist organizing and resistance. This conversation is part of the Feminist Public Intellectual Project, a series of open-access features presented by Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (http://signsjournal.org/fpip).
Feminist lawyer, writer, teacher, and activist Catharine A. MacKinnon discusses “Sexual Harassment in the Age of #MeToo” with Durba Mitra, assistant professor of studies of women, gender, and sexuality at Harvard University. They discuss MacKinnon’s role in the genesis of sexual harassment law and why it required reshaping the legal meaning of “equality” itself. They also discuss the relationship between the law and social movements, how the law can address discrimination and violence against women of color and trans people, the differences between the Obama and Trump administrations’ approaches to Title IX, and the future of #MeToo. This conversation is part of the Feminist Public Intellectual Project, a series of open-access features presented by Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (http://signsjournal.org/fpip).