From the Editors
With this issue, we are pleased to present a special section of “Chicana Conversations” that features interviews with Vicki L. Ruiz and Virginia Espino (conducted by Anupama Arora, Laura K. Muñoz, and Sandrine Sanos) with an introduction by Lori Flores. This multivoiced intergenerational dialogue ranges widely, addressing the past, present, and future of Chicana studies, promises and challenges of public scholarship, and intersectional feminist politics of academia and beyond. Ruiz, a trailblazing and awardwinning historian, is the author of many books, beginning with the first historical monograph to focus on a community of Mexican women in the United States, Cannery Women, Cannery Lives (1987), a study of Chicana women workers in Southern California’s canning and packing industries during the 1930s and 1940s. Ruiz’s work opened the doors for many who came after her, including her student and PhD advisee Espino. The main focus of the conversation with Espino is her recent documentary No Más Bebés (2015), which revisits the 1978 Madrigal v. Quilligan case about the coercive sterilization of ethnic Mexican women in Los Angeles in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a project that arose from Espino’s dissertation work with Ruiz at Arizona State University.
Our regular article section brings together three feminist inquiries from across the globe, investigating issues of media representation, religion and identity, and the potential of bringing diverse voices together in conversation. Rukmini Pande and Samira Nadkarni’s “I Will Tell Your Story: New Media Activism and the Indian ‘Rape Crisis’” builds out of the 2012 gang rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey in New Delhi, which brought global attention to India’s so-called “rape crisis,” eliciting a broad range of political and cultural responses. Pande and Nadkarni offer a critical reading of two multimedia activist projects that address this issue, We Are Angry (2015) and Priya’s Shakti (2014), arguing that their positioning vis-à-vis India’s neoliberal economic transformation, nationalist ideology, and ongoing feminist debates leads them to “recreate structures of Hinduist Bhraminical patriarchy while purporting to advance the cause of gender equality in India.” However, while demonstrating that the texts ultimately fail as intersectional feminist interventions, the authors also assert the potentiality of cyberspace for postcolonial activism grounded in historical context and local knowledge to disrupt mainstream media narratives and entrenched political structures.
In “Female Perceptions of Islam in Today’s Morocco,” Fatima Sadiqi draws upon her field-research repository of 25 face-to-face interviews and 100 questionnaires to investigate religious, cultural, and political perceptions of Islam by Arabic- and Amazigh-speaking Moroccan women from Fez, Casablanca, Marrakesh, and their surrounding rural areas. Noting that perceptions of Islam in Morocco are predominately maleoriented and that existing academic research has largely replicated this powerful bias, Sadiqi’s investigation seeks to fill the research gap and open avenues for further studies. As the author concludes, not only are Moroccan women’s perceptions of Islam “plural, versatile, and complex”—mirroring their “varied lives and experiences and their importance in shaping [their] perceptions”—but there also exists a nuanced fluidity between Islamic culture, the self, and agency that is revealed and illuminated by detailed subjective testimonies.
Last but not least, Karen Czarnecki’s article, “‘Strong Women Make Strong Nations’: Women, Literature, and Sovereignty in Paula Gunn Allen and Virginia Woolf,” places Woolf’s foundational essays, A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas, in conversation with Allen’s landmark text The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Through a close reading of both their differences and their similarities—such as Woolf’s and Allen’s shared objective to recuperate women’s history and literature and highlight female-centric social structures—Czarnecki seeks to draw out the potential for feminist analyses that may yield “fresh insights into the intersections of race, class, gender, and nation in women’s writing.” Her meticulous discussion demonstrates the value of bringing together seemingly opposing voices, such as those of white Western women and Native American women, into shared “sites of contestation” that “become opportunity for fruitful, broad-ranging discourse in keeping with third-wave feminist sensibilities.”