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Crossings: Swarthmore Undergraduate Feminist Research Journal

Call for Papers

Volume 1, Issue 1

Crossings is a new, open-access undergraduate interdisciplinary research journal that provides a forum for discourse on feminist theory and scholarship. The title is inspired by M. Jacqui Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing, which takes as its basis the concept of the Middle Passage, the Crossing, to understand Black transnational feminism’s erosion of boundaries —disciplinary conventions, respectability politics, national borders, and bodies that are gendered, sexualized, and racialized, among others kinds of categories— in relation to empire and postmodernity.

Borderlands. Boundaries. Bridges. Crossroads. Horizons. Transitions. The theme of our inaugural issue is “Crossings,” in the most general sense. We ask, what does it mean to cross boundaries within interdisciplinary feminist research? What are the kinds of epistemological traversals that arise at the Crossings, which push us, in the words of Alexander, “to apprehend [...] new ways of being and knowing and to plot the different metaphysics that are needed to move away from living alterity premised in difference to bring intersubjectivity premised in relationality and solidarity”? [1] To live an epistemological, methodological, and personal-political Crossings, Alexander reminds us, “we would need to adopt, as daily practice, ways of being and of relating, modes of analyzing, and strategies of organizing in which we constantly mobilize identification and solidarity, across all borders, as key elements in the repertoire of risks we need to take to see ourselves as part of one another, even in the context of difference.” [2]

Alexander’s understanding of Black, feminist spiritual activism is based on transitions and movements: “These metaphors of links, charts, journeys, bridges, and borders are neither idle nor incidental, however, as we come to terms with the different cartographies of feminist struggle in different parts of the world; our different histories; where they change course and how they diverge.” [3] Other feminist activists, artists, and scholars have explored the borders, boundaries, comings-together, intersections, and interstices of Crossings by many names and given particular contexts. These are the intellectual ancestors of Alexander’s own understanding of spiritual activism and Black, transnational feminism.

Chicana feminist artist and scholar Gloria E. Anzaldúa was among the prominent Third World Feminists to theorize racialized women and femme’s in-between existence inside of borderlands and bridges. According to Anzaldúa the borderlands “is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition.” [4] Traditionally represented as a savage non-place of marginality, the borderlands is reconstructed as a generative Crossings of its own, as a liminal space of transformation and transition. Existing as a bridge, a nepantlera, means “cuando vives en la frontera/people walk through you, the wind steals your voice,/you’re a burra, buey, scapegoat,/forerunner of a new race half and half —both woman and man—/neither new gender [...] To survive the Borderlands/you must live sin fronteras/be a crossroads.” [5]

Similarly, Black feminist activists and scholars like Combahee River Collective, in 1979, thought of racialized women’s oppression as the coming-together of institutionalized and systemic powers: “We are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression [...] based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking.” [6] Later, legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality, another kind of Crossings, to understand how “race and gender intersect in shaping structural, and representational aspects of violence against women of color.” [7] More generally, Black feminist scholar Patricia Hill Collins theorizes the “matrix of oppression” as the coming-together of global systems that impact humans outside of particular intersectional oppressions because “regardless of the particular intersections involved, structural, disciplinary, hegemonic, and interpersonal domains of power appear across quite different forms of oppression.” [8]

Crossings, then, are characterized by ambivalence, by the possibility of regeneration, rupture, transformation, and the interlocking of capitalist, colonial, and imperial powers. Anzaldúa believes “there’s an enormous contradiction in being a bridge.” [9] This ambivalence, contradiction, or state of non-being, according to Alexander, is the generative “experience of freedom in boundary crossing.” [10] It is in this indeterminate space of Crossings that we hope contributors will inhabit in their scholarly and artistic work.

We invite open-ended submissions exploring the horizons of non-traditional, boundary-crossing research in feminist theory, applications of feminist analysis, discussions of methodologies, interview-style features, and multimedia projects.

Article submissions should be between 7 to 25 pages. Multimedia submissions can be submitted as audio, mixed media, photography, and/or video and must include an artist statement of at least 200 words. Please see our About the Journal for the kinds of work we accept and Copyright and Guidelines for specific requirements. Contact us at crossings@swarthmore.edu if you have any questions. Submit via our portal by 31 Oct. 2022 for our inaugural Fall/Winter issue.

Contributions might address (but are not limited to) topics such as:

  • Cross-dresssing, gender performance, and Trans* feminism
  • Crossing boundaries with transnational feminism
  • Explorations of compulsory heterosexuality & gender self-determination
  • Interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or crossdisciplinary feminism
  • Interrogation of binaries or borders such as national borders, the gender binary, etc.
  • Intersectional analysis within historical feminist movements
  • Meditations on Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing
  • Posthumanism, cyborg theory, and gender cybernetics
  • Womanism & mujerismo

[1] M. Jacqui Alexander, Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005): 7-8.

[2] Ibid: 264.

[3] Ibid: 265.

[4] Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987): 3.

[5] Ibid: 194-195.

[6] Combahee River Collective, “A Black Feminist Statement,” in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, eds. Cherríe L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa, 3rd ed. (Berkeley: Third Woman Press, 2002): 234.

[7] Kimberle Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (1991): 1244.

[8] Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2000): 18.

[9] Gloria E. Anzaldúa, “La Prieta,” in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, eds. Cherríe L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa, 3rd ed. (Berkeley: Third Woman Press, 2002): 299.

[10] Alexander, Pedagogies of Crossing, 258.

Past Calls for Paper