Author Commentaries: 30@30 Australian Feminist Studies

Australian Feminist Studies

We have asked some of the authors of these articles to provide reflections on their pieces as they now look back on them across the intervening years. 

Rosalyn Diprose on “Giving corporeality against the law.Australian Feminist Studies 11.24 (1996): 253-262.

I think of this paper as a pathway from my 1994 book The Bodies of Women: Ethics, Embodiment, and Sexual Difference (which critiques the contract model of social and sexual relations that views the body and its products as the property of the individual) to the development of an alternative model of social relations, intercorporeality, and ethics culminating in the notion of “corporeal generosity” (2002). Along with the others in this issue, the paper thereby demonstrates the importance of the institution of Australian feminist thinking, where institution has the double meaning of instituting (carrying forward) the ideas of the feminist traditions from which we emerge and initiating (instituting) something new. Because of this dynamism, the paper’s specific critique of debates about the surrogacy contract should remain relevant 20 years on, even though adding something new may aid in addressing any subsequent shifts in the debate and in the theory.

 

Marilyn Lake on “Personality, individuality, nationality: Feminist conceptions of citizenship 1902–1940.Australian Feminist Studies 9.19 (1994): 25-38.

I wrote this article at a time when there was renewed popular and scholarly interest in theorisations of citizenship and political subjectivity both in Australia and internationally. I wanted to point out that women had theorised citizenship in different and distinctive ways that drew on their experiences as sexually embodied subjects. I am still dismayed when I encounter discussions of the history of political thought that don’t recognise the political thought of women.

 

Aileen Moreton-Robinson on “Whiteness matters: Implications of talkin' up to the white woman.Australian Feminist Studies 21.50 (2006): 245-256.

Since Talkin Up to the White Woman I have not been invited to any feminist conferences to speak with the exception of one in 2005 in Adelaide. Nor have I been invited to give a guest lecture in any women’s studies/feminism/gender courses. Anecdotal evidence would strongly suggest the impact of my work in Feminism in Australia is that it has served to exclude me. Interestingly the copyright payments I receive from this book speak to it being used with regularity within the Australian curriculum. 

 

Ilya Parkins on “Building a feminist theory of fashion: Karen Barad's agential realism.Australian Feminist Studies 23.58 (2008): 501-515.

I have moved on to quite different kinds of work. Yet this piece emblematizes what I still hold as my central goal as a feminist scholar: to engage in serious theoretical and political terms with phenomena that are dismissed as frivolous because of their feminization and their connections to mass culture. It is also dear to my heart because – nearly twenty years after I first encountered her work – it examines Karen Barad, who remains the scholar who has most challenged, provoked, and inspired me.

 

Patricia MacCormack on “Feminist Becomings: Hybrid feminism and Heacceitic (re)production.Australian Feminist Studies 24.59 (2009): 85-97.

This article was written due to the inspiration I received from my PhD supervisors in Australia and abroad. Writing on feminism, continental philosophy and the burgeoning areas of Deleuzio-Guattarian studies of difference I noticed that the key champions of a decidedly alterity-driven application of these theorists happened to be Australian, no matter in which country I encountered them. Continuing at conferences all over the world I was made aware that Australian feminists were consistently the most influential readers of Continental philosophy in non-canonical but intoxicatingly rigorous ways. This article coalesces their many trajectories to formalise an adamantly informal group to elucidate the influence Australian feminism exerts on philosophy.

 

Claire Colebrook on “Stratigraphic Time, Women's Time.Australian Feminist Studies 24.59 (2009): 11-16.

Stratigraphic time may not appear to be as radical as it once was.  Since this article appeared, the central trope (of strata) that is used to argue for a feminism that allowed every layer of the past to remain virtually present and real in its capacity to transform the present, has become fetishised in the claim for the Anthropocene.  Geologists now argue that humanity will literally form a strata, but this conception needs to be radicalised and multiplied, to consider a time of multiple strata rather than 'the' strata of 'the' human, anthropos, or Anthropocene.

 

Helen Keane and Marsha Rosengarten on “On the Biology of Sexed Subjects.Australian Feminist Studies 17.39 (2002): 261-277.

The writing of this article was made possible by an invitation from the editors of AFS and our wonderfully generous colleagues and friends Rosalyn Diprose and Elizabeth Wilson who were respondents when we presented the paper at a forum for early career feminist scholars at Macquarie University. The article can be seen as the beginnings of a move toward what is now termed feminist new materialism but also leanings toward the growing interest in process oriented thought. Its point of departure was our shared dissatisfaction with cultural accounts of particular bodily processes, a dissatisfaction that was emerging amongst key feminist thinkers such as Wilson and Diprose. Our approach engaged with the work of Judith Butler, Foucault and Derrida through our empirical interests in drugs (Keane) and viruses (Rosengarten).  Since then we have gone in separate directions but still with the same shared passion for moving beyond the culturalist approach that would at once claim a knowledge of the nature/culture binary while reiterating it in the same move. For Marsha Rosengarten there has been a series of moves through Science and Technology Studies to a strong interest in the work of the speculative philosopher A.N. Whitehead and his main interlocutor and speculative thinker/feminist Isabelle Stengers.  For Helen Keane this has involved an engagement with Actor Network Theory as she continues to think about drugs and addiction, as well as a more recent interest in practice theory. 

 

Catherine Waldby and Melinda Cooper. “The biopolitics of reproduction: Post-fordist biotechnology and Women's clinical labour.Australian Feminist Studies 23.55 (2008): 57-73. 

This article was the springboard for our book Clinical Labor: Tissue Donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy (2014). It has travelled far, generating interest from Berlin to India, and took us down many unsuspected and exciting pathways.

 

Lesley Johnson on “’Revolutions are not made by down-trodden housewives’: Feminism and the housewife.Australian Feminist Studies 15.32 (2000): 237-248.

Fifteen years after this article was first published a discussion of feminism and housewives doesn’t seem as relevant as I hope it did in the early 2000s when Australian Prime Minister John Howard was to adopt British academic Catherine Hakim, whose controversial arguments are considered in the beginning of this article, as his favoured expert for his family policies for the country.  But the central concern of this article is with what I argue has been a fantasy at the heart of feminism since the 1950s, a fantasy of a feminist subject who is a fully unified and coherent figure, able to define herself and her world unambiguously. Looking back over my own working and personal life I was pleased to find that I had argued in this article that what we should be instead are ‘good enough’ feminists.  I still feel comfortable with this argument as long as feminism continues to be a project that is always in progress.

 

Debra Ferreday on “Game of Thrones, Rape Culture and Feminist Fandom.Australian Feminist Studies 30.83 (2015): 21-36.

My article analyses the complexity of feminist responses to the popular fantasy series, Game of Thrones, focusing on responses to a particular controversial rape scene. I gave a version as a paper at a conference and was asked if I liked the show: my answer was ‘I’m a fan, but I’m not sure “like” is the right word’. As a feminist cultural theorist I’m fascinated by media that seem to have a difficult or ambivalent relationships to feminism. Questions of how audiences make sense of lived experience in relation to media representations and to what extent media that are not themselves obviously feminist might nevertheless have feminist effects continue to inform my work.

 

Danielle Celemajer on “Submission and rebellion: Anorexia and a feminism of the body”. Australian Feminist Studies 2.5 (1987), 57-69.

Reading the first piece of my published work, words I wrote thirty years ago when I had just completed my honours degree, is an uncanny experience. I am most struck by the profound continuity in the pattern of my thinking. Although this piece engages with Freud, Lacan and what were then the new French feminists to read anorexia, and the substance of my work since seems quite remote (Indigenous rights, transitional justice, human rights) the fascination with deep structures, with performative meanings and with the possibilities of transformative resistance remain. I also feel deep gratitude to the teachers whose presence is embroidered throughout this piece and everything since – Liz Grosz and Moira Gatens.