Our annual Jan Monk lecture will feature Dr. Richar Nagar
Storytelling and Co-authorship in Feminist Alliance Work: Reflections from a Journey
Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies
University of Minnesota
If all writing is fundamentally tied to the production of meanings and texts, then feminist research that blurs the borders of academia and activism is necessarily about the labor and politics of mobilizing experience for particular ends. Co-authored stories are a chief tool by which feminists working in alliances across borders mobilize experience to write against relations of power that produce social violence, and to imagine and enact their own visions and methodologies of social change. Such work demands a serious engagement with the complexities of identity, representation, and political imagination as well as a rethinking of the assumptions and possibilities associated with engagement and expertise. This lecture draws upon 14 years of partnership with activists in India and with academic co-authors in the US to reflect on how story telling across social, geographical, and institutional borders can enhance critical engagement with questions of violence and struggles for social change, while also troubling dominant discourses and methodologies inside and outside of the academy. Through specific examples, it reflects on the labor process, assumptions, possibilities, and risks associated with co-authorship as a tool for mobilizing intellectual spaces in which stories from multiple locations in an alliance can speak with one another and evolve into more nuanced and effective critical interventions.