Thinking Transnational Feminisms Summer Institute

Thinking Transnational Feminisms Summer Institute


July 6-11, 2014
Columbus, Ohio

Sessions and Themes
Goals and Outcomes of the Institute
Application Process
Important Dates

Over the past forty years, scholarly and activist engagements of transnational feminism have reconfigured existing terrains, creating new possibilities and limitations for feminist scholars and the field of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Transnational feminism has emerged as a heterotopic space consisting of diverse approaches. Key contributions have included calls for attention to specific historical contexts and colonial legacies (Kaplan and Grewal, 1994), explorations of how women relate across nation-state borders and how those relations have been structured by neocolonization and globalization (Mohanty, 2003), and critiques of ostensibly transnational human rights organizations that reproduce unequal relations of power (Engle, 2006). Transnational feminism has encompassed thoughtful engagement with emergent political movements, like the transnational rising of indigenous peoples, anti-globalization and environmentalist movements.  Somewhat paradoxically, it has also become part of a highly funded agenda akin to area studies, supported by neoliberal foundations and state interests to produce managers for global corporations and NGOs. (Briggs, Way, and McCormick, 2008).

Thinking Transnational Feminisms is a collaborative weeklong summer institute organized by and for feminist scholars who are engaging the transnational –  as a process, a critique, a paradigm, and/or a characteristic of social movement in their scholarship – to make sense of these multiple, sometimes contradictory, approaches and concepts.  We invite graduate students, emerging, and established scholars to join us in exploring and sharpening our understanding of where the field of “transnational feminisms” is and where it is going by sharing and critiquing work in progress.

We welcome established and emerging scholars from various institutions and disciplinary locations who are working at the borders (both physical and epistemic) of feminist theorizing.  We especially invite non-U.S. based scholars to participate in this institute to contribute to the work of decentering U.S. academic practices in thinking through transnational feminist knowledge production and engagements.   Our goals are to facilitate dialogue on transnational feminism’s potentialities and continued erasures, as well as the possibilities of models for coalition building among feminist activists across nation-state borders both locally and globally.

Sessions and Themes:

The institute will feature two types of sessions:

  1. Paper workshops that help authors refine their research and writing and advance our collective understanding of transnational feminism.  We envision limiting these sessions to twenty-four authors to facilitate in-depth engagement among all institute participants.
  2. Roundtables that tackle “big” issues in transnational feminism.  Roundtable themes that we plan to explore may include:< >Geographic MetanarrativesHow does the geographic orientation of scholarship influence the study and praxis of transnational feminism? Is “transnational feminism” a term that women from non-European and U.S. contexts utilize to connote their own feminist/scholarship practices?To what extent are geographic mappings used in transnational feminism – such as, First, Second, and Third World; East/West; Global North versus Global South; or Western versus non-Western– and to what extent are they useful?  How do these maps overlap or contradict each other?  How can we trouble these contextually- and sometimes discipline-specific categories?What examples of transnational feminism reveal multi-directional flows of exchange of ideas, practices, and commodities, and how are these multi-directional flows enacted? How do transnational feminisms move along and engage with diasporic networks?How do nationalisms and internationalisms conflict and collaborate in transnational feminism?Methodologies· As scholars, how do we “do transnational feminism”?  How do we access sources and archives that reflect experiences that transcend the nation-state? Is this a privileged vantage point (akin to Haraway’s “god’s eye view”) that only those with easy access to research funds, research libraries, and visas can attain?  Are there implicit methodological expectations when “transnational feminism” is invoked?When juggling multiple national contexts in our work, how do we balance respect for national historiographies which contain different concerns, with the “transnational”? Can we speak of the transnational in the historical period before the nation? Are colonialism and its postcolonial nationalist aftermath “transnational”?How are our methodologies as scholars complicit with or challenging power dynamics that structure the production of knowledge?Practices, Styles, and SpacesWhat key infrastructures have shaped transnational feminism?  And how have transnational organizations, conferences, and movements operated as distinct spaces of organizing and power relations?How have international conferences and supranational bodies such as the United Nations and NGOs operated as platforms for movements, as well as sites of contestation and asymmetrical power relations?What theories and practices have fostered coalition building across cultural differences and national borders? What means have transnational movements used to connect far-flung individuals and groups ideologically?How does transnational collaboration and conflict change the meanings of purportedly “universal” ideas such as “human rights,” or terms such as “globalization,” “feminism,” and “transnationalism” itself?What role do affective relationships and interpersonal dynamics play in transnational feminism?The StakesHow do the perspectives offered in transnational feminism influence our core analytical categories and insights as scholars?How do they inform local and national studies?How do they speak to contemporary globalization in a neoliberal era?In the U.S., how can transnational feminism grow out of and shape the interdisciplinary, intersectional orientation of Women’s Studies?  How can it transform our pedagogical approaches?The “Body” PoliticHow does interrogation of the nation-state and its practices inform transnational feminism in discussions of surveillance and criminalization of immigrants, including their sexual and reproductive practices; military service; and sex work?How do corporeal concerns inform transnational feminisms, including debates around headscarves, genital cutting, and footbinding?How does analysis of sexuality come into dialogue with transnational feminism in transnational sexual justice movements; sex tourism; sexual trafficking; campaigns against gendered violence; homophile movements; queer transnational feminisms; reproductive politics, labor, and technologies; and sexual identities and practices?Indigenous Transnational FeminismsWhat does feminism mean for indigenous peoples whose lived experiences often are shaped by differential relations to the nation state? How does the idea of the transnational operate across borders between indigenous nations and settler colonial nation-states? Where and how do projects for indigenous sovereignty intersect with feminist practices?Labor, Transnational Captial, and Feminist FuturesWhat can we learn and reclaim by reassessing transnational feminist socialist projects of the past (and present), particularly those forged during the Cold War between state socialist countries in the East and socialist/non-aligned countries in  Latin America, Africa and South Asia? Where and how have the “red roots” of American feminism grown?
  3. How do different imaginings of labor and justice shape and constrain cross-national, cross-industry and/or cross-issue activism?  What are the current achievements as well as limitations of labor activism in the context of widespread yet diverse precarious labor?
  4. Has feminism suffered from “the cunning of history,” as suggested by Nancy Fraser? To what extent are the successes of contemporary global feminism (such as the movement against gender violence) forged on the ruins of socialism?  Where do we place the fierce anti-globalization activisms of the last two decades within Fraser’s lament that feminists have privileged representation over economics?
  5. How are feminists and others envisioning a more egalitarian future? What desires are there for post-capitalism, democratic capitalism or even a communist horizon? What kinds of practices are already making a stake towards such futures?

We offer these questions and topics as examples and guidelines only; please feel free to submit papers or roundtable sessions that address other issues not listed here as well.

Goals and Outcomes of the Institute:

Through these explorations we want to try to capture the radical potential of a transnational feminist critique that does not reproduce the inequalities of power inherent in international relations and the global economy, and make visible alternate models for transnational projects of social justice for women globally.
Our hope is that this symposium, in seeking to articulate new analytics of transnational feminism, will:

  • Contribute to the ways in which the Global South articulates its critiques of transnational feminisms, and to intervene in accounts of feminism that erase, undermine, and divest the knowledge produced by feminists in the Global South about globalization, human rights, and social movements.
  • Contribute to more sophisticated and nuanced approaches of Global North-based non-government organizations to human rights issues that impact women throughout the world, including in the United States itself.
  • Contribute to dialogues between women activists across the Global North, South, East and West divides that will allow for greater understandings and possible collaborations without replicating unequal power dynamics.

The outcomes from this institute encompass the short-term and long-term.  We will measure short-term success by whether the institute achieves its goals of provoking deep discussion about transnational feminism, and of facilitating the dissemination of these analyses via publications and further scholarly collaborations. Long-term success of the institute will be demonstrated through continued discussions and engagements with transnational feminism, particularly how this results in rethinking the curriculum, goals, and engagements of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the training of feminist scholars, and possible collaborations between scholars.
One of the roundtables at the summer institute will be transcribed and edited for inclusion in the special issue of Frontiers focusing on transnational feminisms.
There may be the possibility of an edited anthology based on selected presentations that will be published with the Expanding Frontiers book series (University of Nebraska Press).
Other scholarly products will include contributions to participant’s own monographs, dissertations, and individually published articles.

Application Process:

To apply, please send by December 15 the following materials via our online registration form, available at

  1. A completed registration form
  2. A 300 word statement, uploaded as part of your online registration form
    1. If you are proposing a paper and a roundtable comment, please submit an abstract of your paper to be workshopped or roundtable topic that you would like to address.
    2. If you are planning to attend without proposing a paper or roundtable presentation, please provide a statement on your goals and proposed contributions to the institute.
  3. An abbreviated CV of two pages, also uploaded as part of your online registration form.  Please be sure to include your current contact information.

Important Dates:

12/15/13:  Application Due
1/31/14:    Acceptances will be announced.
2/28/14:    Commitments to attend and fully participate in the weeklong summer institute, along with a financial deposit, will be expected.

In order to enact feminist commitments to justice, radical democracy, and equity, the workshop fees, food and lodging costs will be on a sliding scale. For information about the estimated costs of attending the summer institute, please see  We are committed to subsidizing childcare, also on a sliding scale Our intention is to produce a space where inequalities based on rank, national location, and family status are minimized.

5/31/14:  Submit your workshop paper.  This should be an unpublished article/chapter length piece of about 25 pp.) It will be made available to all summer institute participants.

Institutional sponsors collaborating in organizing and supporting this conference include Arizona State University Women and Gender Studies, The Ohio State University Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Department of Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Frontiers:  A Journal of Women’s Studies.

Applicants are also encouraged to submit their work to the special issue of Frontiers focusing on transnational feminisms.  Completed manuscripts are due May 1, 2014 before the institute convenes.


Contact Us or 1 614 247-7720


For more details, please see the  official website HERE.

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