TRANSNATIONAL FEMINISMS

Richa Nagar’s contributions to transnational feminisms have focused on the theory and practice of alliance work across geographical scales and institutional and cultural sites. Her writings on this subject began with an interrogation of the dominant approaches to reflexivity and positionality in feminist work (see Muddying the Waters, Chapters 2 & 3) and on complicating the ways in which academia creates hierarchical oppositions between process-product, academic-activist, and individual-collaborative (Benson and Nagar, 2006, Nagar and Swarr 2010). These meditations continued to evolve into serious discussions on the praxis of collaboration, co-authorship, and alliance work in her books, Muddying the Waters and Hungry Translations.

Alliance work, for Nagar, is grounded in deep relationality and trust that can enable a continuously unfolding collectivity to emerge as a “blended but fractured we” (Playing with Fire 2006, p. XXXIV). Always aware of the cracks within it, such a “we” forms situated solidarities that are grounded in the specific textures of place, time, and struggle. An embodied praxis of translation or retelling becomes a key vehicle to achieve this relationality. In this praxis, each member of the collective–far from merely listening to the story of another–asks: “what can I offer to become an ethical receiver of this story?” This kind of intentional reciprocity requires being, feeling, remembering, and rallying together, while also grappling with our limitations, mistakes, and imperfections. Such moving together in the mind-body-soul can birth a radical vulnerability where all the co-travelers can let go of their stories as well as their egos before one another in order to wrestle with the intricate functionings of power as well as the profoundly contextual meanings of ethics and justice (for a detailed discussion, see Hungry Translations, 2019).

Benson, Koni and Richa Nagar. “Collaboration as Resistance? Reconsidering Processes, Products, and Possibilities of Feminist Oral History and Ethnography.” Gender, Place and Culture 13:5: 581-592, 2006.

Nagar, Richa and Amanda Lock Swarr. “Theorizing Transnational Feminist Praxis.” In eds. Amanda Lock Swarr and Richa Nagar. Critical Transnational Feminist Praxis. Albany: SUNY, pp. 1-20, 2010.

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