Outstanding Academic Titles 2022: Women’s History Month Part 3

This week we highlight the third installment of 2022 Outstanding Academic Titles selected to commemorate Women's History Month

1. Digital Black feminism
Steele, Catherine Knight. New York University, 2021

This text introduces the idea of digital Black feminism to highlight the significance and contributions of Black feminists who choose to operate on social media platforms. Steele (Univ. of Maryland, College Park) emphasizes how digital Black feminists specifically broaden traditional conceptualizations of activism, complicate ideas of appropriate allegiances, and actively engage with contradictions in Black communities. The text itself engages in some reparative work by challenging dominant ideas about Black technophobia, illustrating the centrality of Black women to the development of technology in general. The author’s analysis of contemporary Black feminist digital enclaves and counterpublics and her engagement with current practices and vernacular within Black communities make the text topical and compelling. Admittedly, Steele takes a while to get to her main analysis; the chapters that provide the conceptual framework take up quite a bit of the text, and readers may find themselves wanting more specific examples of the historical technophilia among Black women that the author highlights. Nevertheless, these chapters introduce valuable theoretical foundations that are important for grounding the book’s primary analyses. View on Amazon.

2. For the many: American feminists and the global fight for democratic equality
Cobble, Dorothy Sue. Princeton, 2021

In For the Many Cobble (emer., Rutgers Univ.) offers a collective biography that traces the stories of activists who confronted multiple and intertwined injustices across the world throughout the 20th century, and whose actions together furthered women’s fight for full rights. Spanning the 1910s to the present, Cobble’s history outlines a vast international network of social democratic feminists in pursuit of women’s rights in tandem with broader social, economic, and political reforms. Cobble shows how these ”full rights feminists” forged international partnerships across geographical boundaries to create multicultural, multiracial alliances to further economic justice, democratic principles, and human rights for all. Readers will recognize familiar figures, including Mary McLeod Bethune, Frances Perkins, and Eleanor Roosevelt, but will also be introduced to the lesser-known stories of women such as Toni Sender, Pauline Newman, and Dorothy Kenyon. Cobble’s impressive research draws on countless primary sources from collections spanning archives, libraries, and research institutions from around the globe, making her book a must read for students interested in transnational feminism. View on Amazon

3. Sisters in the mirror: a history of Muslim women and the global politics of feminism
Shehabuddin, Elora. California, 2021

Sisters in the Mirror offers much more than the title implies. It is a story of power disparities—familial and global—and an investigation of ethnic tensions that simultaneously explores Western women’s roles in colonization and other harms from varying Bengali women’s perspectives. Using vignettes as the literary device of choice, Shehabuddin (Rice Univ.) brings readers directly into the lives of these women, a rare treat in itself. She crafts a multi-angled history of feminism that includes women from two colonial countries and Bengali women from the Enlightenment to the present. Many readers of Indian or Pakistani history will be amazed at the quality of research and the connections uncovered in this text. The author claims that the history of Muslim Bengali women is overlooked when reading of Indian or Pakistani women’s feminism; in fact, it is overlooked in all texts on women, whether regarding feminism or advocacy. This is an extraordinary and exemplary use of vignettes to sustain women’s voices over centuries and highlight interconnectedness, intimacy, and global awareness. View on Amazon

4. Women and philosophy in eighteenth-century Germany
Dyck, Corey. Oxford, 2021

In this inspired collection Dyck (Western Univ., Canada) has collected essays on Sophie of Hanover, Johanna Unzer, and Maria von Herbert and on topics ranging from “challenges of female authorship and identity” to the German enlightenment, bringing to light important scholarship on neglected philosophies. The importance of this volume cannot be overstated for philosophy programs and philosophers interested in updating traditional courses. The book is challenging, insightful, and should be required reading alongside the philosophies of Leibniz, Kant, and other male philosophers in order to gain a better understanding of the period. View on Amazon

5The great upheaval: women and nation in postwar Nigeria
Byfield, Judith A. Ohio University, 2021

This brilliant book is set in the modernizing city of Abeokuta among the Yoruba of southwestern Nigeria. The trigger for the crisis that forms the study’s central focus was a tax revolt in 1947. By July 1948, Ademola II, the king and sole native authority figure, had abdicated his throne and gone into exile for three years. The series of protests and resulting abdication became “the Great Upheaval,” around which Byfield (Cornell Univ.), a preeminent historian of Abeokuta, organizes her data and draws her conclusions. Led by the indomitable Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, market women and a few educated women combined forces to generate the protests. Known as the Abeokuta Women’s Union, the organization leveraged a catalog of grievances—corruption in city government, official high-handedness, and taxation—to mobilize thousands of women to demand the termination of the sole native authority, the representation of women in city governance, and the abolition of taxes on women. View on Amazon

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