Early Modern Intersectionalities and Activisms

Filed in AWARDS by on March 19, 2022 0 Comments

Merry Wiesner-Hanks, SSEMW Blog (November 30, 2017)

 

The Women’s March was an event that many of us from Milwaukee will never forget. You may see our group’s banner on my Facebook page by clicking here.

Most people’s Washington experiences began on the plane when even the pearl-clad women realized they were all going to the same location for the same cause.

While waiting for a delayed trip home, Gwynne Kennedy, Deirdre Keenan, and I planned 2018 Attending to Early Modern Women conference.

(You may still submit workshop ideas at http://www.atw2018.uwm.edu/) Our pink pussy hats inspired the theme: of action, which morphed into action and agency. Several words beginning with “c” appeared to fit the mood perfectly: crises; conflict; catastrophe; choice; conflict; confrontation; restraint.

 

As stated by intersectionality, oppression is multiplicative rather than additive, which means no one identity—race, class, gender or sexual orientation—should be viewed apart from the others but constantly represented in terms of and through them.

“Intersectional feminism” is a word often used by young women and men to describe their political ideas.

 

The word “intersectionality” was originally used by race theorist and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, not the Black lesbian feminist Combahee River Collective.

To establish integrated analysis and practice based on the knowledge that the primary oppressive systems are interwoven is our unique responsibility “Barbara Smith wrote the 1977 Combahee River Collective Statement.

The interaction of various oppressions shapes our lives. ” Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, edited by Barbara Smith, Rutgers University Press, 1983, 264–74. Linda Gordon’s recent survey of intersectionality in Gender and History [“Forum: Rethinking Key Concepts in Gender History”, 28/2 ( August 2016): 299–366] both stress this.

 

These scholarly papers investigate the 40-year history of intersectionality, which is typically overlooked or ignored in social media posts or blogs explaining intersectionality.

The Combahee River Collective Statement and Barbara Smith are not mentioned in the Tumblr blog “Intersectional feminism for beginners”. Intersectionality beyond racism and sexism is something new, not part of the 1977 proclamation.

As feminist educators and researchers, we must incorporate Barbara Smith in discussions of the concept’s history and growth with students and in our own work.

Because the term is widely available on items but seldom recognized by Dzodan, an Amsterdam-based writer, she should be there.

Many of us have spent our lives researching previously unknown or ignored ideas and artists to ensure their inclusion in the tale. Our pupils are routinely reminded to cite references correctly, thus this should be easy.

 

We can absolutely do more. “Feminist Theories, Spatialized Epistemologies, and Early Modern Embodiment,” mentions early modern works in which feminist researchers produced intersectional analyses of gender, race, sexuality, and religion. 15-53 in Merry Wiesner-Hanks (ed) (Ashgate, 2015).

In her words, feminist intersectional epistemology “must be dynamic and flexible,” she emphasizes what we as feminist academics of a bygone era should or even must contribute to the table: a sense of time. (p. 54) I’ve read several discussions about intersectional feminism since the phrase was invented in January, some in People or USA Today, but also feminist blogs and websites.

While scholars have stressed that these categories of identity are culturally generated, historically evolving, and linked, this isn’t how the general populace articulates them.

We historians must underline that not just these categories, but also many other aspects of society and culture have evolved throughout time. To avoid repeating previous mistakes, we must ensure that our ideas on the dynamic nature of the past are not just in scholarly publications or WGS classrooms, but also in “regular” courses and public discourse.

 

The stakes are great here. Several sessions at the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference last month addressed the issues we confront as early modern female academics in today’s political climate. Women at the SCSC: Teaching and Activism in a Transformed Landscape will be published in the Sixteenth Century Journal shortly.] The alt-right is increasingly looking to the Renaissance and the Middle Ages to support its white nationalist ideology.

 

Public Medievalist, birth-national-disgrace The Middle Ages and Race [ This fall, white nationalist posters using Michelangelo’s David and other famous white marble sculptures adorned college campuses.

As I learned at the SCSC meeting last month, it’s up to us Renaissance and early modern scholars to lead the effort.

Our students, in particular, have urged us to broaden our notions of early modern authorship and study focus. Early modern women’s study has become activism, or at least substantially more “engaged” than it was a few years ago. Pink pussyhats and Powerpoint presentations are worn by activists.

 

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