Feminism on the Peripheries of Europe

Jun 12 2017

This collection of essays is a product of almost a year of research, reflection and writing on feminist possibilities and transformations that followed a two-day event “Feminism on the Peripheries of Europe” with the aim of educating and engaging young people of Wales and beyond on intersectional feminist issues. Together with the authors of this book, we approached the ambitious task of centring young voices in discussions on feminism with both critical and liberatory intent.

Why does our book focus on Europe’s peripheries? Europe, and our world as a whole, is structurally and institutionally unequal. The notion of ‘periphery’ reflects complex positionalities of communities, some of which are located on the margins, invisibilised and marginalised. By recognizing that within Europe there are fluid and subjective realities and peripheries in relation to the core or centre, we can map locations of power and resistance, including feminist engagement.

This book is an attempt to redraw the map, preserve histories and herstories, inspire solidarity and coalitions, spotlight moments of transgression and provide a basis for feminist cross-cultural work. As you will see, the authors of this book use a feminist lens to discuss inequality, unrecognized identities, peripheral locality and uneven power structures as factors of oppression that Europe’s minorities and minoritised nations continue to struggle against.

Contemporary definitions of feminism agree that to be a feminist is to be “a person who believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes”. But what does this mean in practice? As this book demonstrates, feminist practice means a complete overhaul on every level to build an intersectional, inclusive feminist society.

As sexism and gender-based oppression affects over half of the world’s population, it is not unexpected that the battle for equality will include individuals who have also suffered from racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, xenophobia and other forms of oppression. Intersectionality, a term fashioned in 1989 by civil rights campaigner and legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, shows that social identities and experiences intersect, overlap, affect one another, and create a whole that is different from the component identities.

Our book does not intend to shy away from complexity and diversity, but to showcase it.Although women have a lot in common in terms of experiencing patriarchy, by centring the voices of women from minorities or oppressed nations, we start to see the importance of intersectionality in the way that it embraces diversity of experiences, needs and interests.

 


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