Tag Archives: transnational

Appadurai, Arjun “Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization,”

In “Modernity at Large:  Cultural Dimensions of Globalization,” Arjun Appadurai argues that intellectuals in the academy need to begin thinking postnationally about contemporary national crises–a claim that ultimately stimulates questions about the future of patriotism.  Appadurai’s thesis rests on the claim that study of discourse in the Western academy is divorced from other institutional forms while the study of literary discourses is divorced from the discourse of other social organizations such as armies, corporations, bureaucracies, etc. (159).  Appadurai calls for a journey to the space of postcolony, which in America is “marked by whiteness but marked too by its uneasy engagement with diasporic people, mobile technologies, and queer nationalities” (159).


Appurudai suggest that we need to study the organizations, movements, ideologies, and networks which comprise postnational social formations.  We need to begin studying the permanent frameworks such as refugee camps that emerge in the postnational order of the world. We need to study the local but with the awareness that the local is the global.  We can’t view local as static, homogeneous; it is always changing, interacting, creating new global realities.  Nation is unstable entity.  where it was once formed by identity, ethnicity, race; today, nation is an interaction of flows of values, cultures, movements, facilitated by different medias and technologies.  Nation is hence unstable.


Cultures and nations today is always an interaction of local and global; a collective of cross-cultural relations.  Comparative rhetoric is impossible because there is no static entities to compare.   



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Dirlik, Arif. Global Modernity: Modernity in the Age of Capitalism

In the introduction, Dirlik positions globalization as an ongoing discourse and process that produces a state of global modernity, which in essence is nothing short of modernity gone global and modern day colonialism that reeks of the colonial, economically, politically, socially, and culturally.  Dirlik claims our main challenge is to “achieve a globality beyond the colonial” and thus devotes his book to identifying the visible contradictions in contemporary global modernity” so that we may reinvision a new future (7 and 8).  For a while decolonization of the material and culture world was thought to have ended colonialism, but in effect, nation states of free states, centralize their power and minorities, women, indigenous within nations begin to feel excluded from nation state.  Nationstates were becoming weaker is some minds because  of globalization and multinational companies became in power but also nationstates became oppressive to own people.


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Notes on Just Advocacy

Notes on Just Advocacy? Women’s Human Rights, Transnational Feminisms, and the Politics of Representation Edited by Wendy S. Hesford and Wendy Kozol


Visual rhetorics of rescue rely on now-familiar narrative dualism of tradition and modernity to champion human rights within the framework of Western liberation (1).

Domesticity reinforces national hierarchies in which the US embraces “families” in need of rescue (Klein) (3).

JA – interested in transnational feminist theories and practices that offer new ways to understand the prominence and often paradoxical nature of rights within the context of war, national security, and international militarized judicial institutions (4).

In contrast to the hegemonic political and media discourse on Western liberation of the Third World, feminists often attempt to address women’s human rights from the vantage point of the women themselves. These feminist representational practices need interrogation as well (7-8).

Hesford and Kozol caution feminists to resist seeking “experience” or “truth” outside of discourse, a claim often found in women’s rights as human rights scholarship. The challenge is to listen and learn from testimonials, visual evidence, and other markers of human rights abuses without presuming that the evidence is transparent (8-9).

Studying visual rhetorics of rights is so important because photographs participate in constructing a feminist visual poetics about women’s resistance, strength, and courage (11).

Feminist representations must include historical context of oppression and opposition (11).

H and K say we must recognize women’s human rights through the dialogic processes of looking and being seen, of providing and witnessing testimonials, of reading and writing practices. This dialogic process is also a transnational and transcultural process whereby reading or seeing human rights violations locates the viewer, the reader, and the witness within the local and global communities. Pedagogically speaking, we might ask whether or how representations prompt self reflexivity about the politics of viewers’ historical, cultural, and social locations? (11)

In representing women, we must present images that complicate a simpolistic spectacle of victimization by visualizing a post-traumatic space of public dissonance in which gender, violence, and recovery rub up against each other in discomforting ways. In other words, images must ask feminists to critically engage with our desires to hear the voices and see the faces suffering. Feminists must avoid reproducing the spectacle of victimization while also not erasing the materiality of violence and trauma, and recognizing the interdependence of material and discursive realms (13).

JA considers connections between globalization, patriarchies, and nationalism, as they intersect with and shape discourses about women’s human rights, national and international security, and transnational feminist intervention (14).
JA examines how human rights discourses negotiate the terrain of national, international, and transnational political and social contexts, looking variously at how states deploy rights claims, how citizen-subjects invoke the national to (re)establish identity within shifting geopolitical contexts, and how activists challenge or resecure national and transnational terrains (15).

JA attempts to recognize how local and global are constituted through each other, and following Grewal and Kaplan, to avoid the essentialist configuration of the local “as the space of oppositional consciousness and the global…as an oppressive network of dominant power strucutures” (19).

It is important to explore how non-Western feminists appropriate Western narratives of social justice without being themselves merely tools of Westernization (19).

Key question:

How can we recognize the many acts of violence done against women and mobilize the power of rights discourse while avoiding the reinscription of Western imperial gazes? (20)

Advocacy itself needs to be analyzed as a participant in a contested transnational activism (21).

The war on terrorism is a recent manifestation of how the globalization of economic and cultural practices has trespassed on individual, social, and political subjectivities while promoting a universalist juridical notion of human rights (22).

How visual and textual rhetorics mobilize human rights claims—how experiences of violation and suffering are represented, by whom, in what venues, and for which audiences—is profoundly important in the politics of advocacy. We need to pay attention to how certain genres and media maintain the authority to “speak” about human rights and violations. Visual culture such as photographs and videos, like testimonials, contain the authority to speak about women’s suffering because of its promises of authenticity. The human voice, especially, carries with it the promise of access to “real” experiences or to the truth about what happened. Similarly, documentaries, photo reportage, and other news practices operate effectifively because of their credibility as truth-gathering mechanisms. The camera always promises to show us the faces of women’s suffering (22).

Stated goal of JA: foster reflection about the possibilities and limitations of using a rights discourse to promote social justice for women considering the politics of cultural advocacy and to examine the myriad and troubling ways in which women’s experiences of oppression and the calls for women’s human rights are mobilized by state governments to support military interventions and repressive political ends (26).

“Kairos and the Geopolitical Rhetorics of Global Sex Work and Video Advocacy” Wendy H.

Human rights is an empowering and disciplining discourse; for instance, the exposure of human rights violations can threaten nation-states and governments with sanctions deployed for political purposes (147)

The identification of women as passive and naïve victims lured and tricked into sex work and therefore in need of rescue is a prominent narrative in international human rights campaigns, including some feminist anti-trafficking campaigns, and the public media representations of the global sex trade (147).

What cultural and poltical forces contribute to the acceptability and public readiness for such rescue narratives? For whom and in what contexts are such narratives and identifications persuasive? (147)

Kairos is a multidimensional term that refers to a situational understanding of space and/or time and the material circumstances—namely the cultural climate—of rhetorical situations (148).

To emply Kairos as part of a transnational feminist methodology is to engage kairos wit the problem of identification as it operates across a range of discourses and to examine the experiences and narratives with which particular acts of identification are entangled or associated (148).

We need to become more attuned to advocates’ strategic and effective mobilization of victimization narratives, as well as the uncritical uses of such narratives in ways that may re-victimize women and support repressive cultural and political agendas (148).

We need to account for the geopolitical structures and technological developments—nationally and internationally—which affect the mobility and marketability of certain identifications associated with female bodies and more broadly sexuality (149).

Transnationality—movments across space, time, and discourses and to disrupt totalizing top-down views of globalization (149).

To place identification practices and identity claims within the drama of kairos is to understand human agency as a rhetorical-geopolitical practice and identification, or for that matter, disidentification, as a means of rhetorical invention and embodied action. In other words, identifications are both rhetorical and material (149).

H. call is to shift our focus from the identity categories of victim and agent to consider material-rhetorical processes of identification and their mobalization within action-defined contexts. Such a shift opens up important new ground for thinking through the complexities and particularities of women’s agency and processes of identification that define the terms of transnational feminist scholarship and advocacy (149).

New methodologies must be developed to enable a contextual rhetorical understanding of identity categories and identification practices as forms of commodity and symbolic exchange. The interrogation of cultural and political practices of rhetorical identification leads us to question the contexts created for and by such identifications. The rhetorical, namely, kairotic, dimensions of identification remain under-theorized in trans. F. studies and advocacy (150).

The rhetorical appeal of the transnational identity of women as victims of oppression is persuasive, Margart E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink suggest, because the issue of “bodily harm resonates with the ideological traditions of Western liberal countries like the US and Western Europe and with basic ideas of human dignity common to most cultures….Issues of bodily harm also lends themselves to dramatic portrayal and personal testimony that are such an important part of on network tactics (150).

Victim’s testimonies are employed in human rights campaigns to persuade audiences to remember, to establish historical consciousness, and to encourage target audiences and institutional venues to act (165).

Patriarchy often frames context for human rights abuses. The commonplace that sex workers or consumers of commercial sex are passive victims of patriarchy assumes a static notion of gender identity attached to victimization—an injury or wound—and ignores the myriad forces and range of identifications (race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc) that shape human agency and subjectivity (151).

Stereotypes of prostitutes as social deviants or as helpless victims maintain their rhetorical appeal because they keep the focus on the “other”, and thereby deflect attention from the national and international policies, economic and sociopolitical forces, and cultural traditions that contribute to the material conditions that drive many women to work in the sex industry (152).

The rhetorical appeal to a sense of common humanity, and to women as a unified group, has been a fundamental strategy of women’s human rights campaigns, which anchor their call to action in the experiences of individual victims (156).

We must cultivate the ear of a rhetorical listener, which requires us to become more attuned to the strategic mobilization of normative identity narratives, cultural myths, and the rhetorical commonplaces by advocates on all sides of the debate (157).

Cultural cosmopolitanism: cultural and virtual tourism, self-invention, and discursive mobility and to highlight the risks that such movements pose in the name of critical advocacy (162).

We need to look beyond the academic transmission of new conceptions to consider how “social movements appropriate and transform global meanings, and materialize them in local practices”, so too do we need to understand how identities and identification practices are enabled and constrained by kairos (163).

To link kairos as a critical methodology with transnational feminist studies and advocacy is to understand identification and identity claims as dynamic moments of action that are at once rhetorical and material, individual and social, local and global. Placed against the geopolitical backdrop of the early 21st century, the classical figure of Kairos therefore emerges not so much as an accommodative figure of balance but as a critical subject negotiating the contradictions of transnationality. Finally, a kairotic understanding of indentification is one that recvognizes the colonial and imperial histories that shape the terms of indentification associated with global sex work and feminist advocacy and the identification practices that transform women into subjected others in increasingly transnational and cosmpolitan public spheres (163-164).

Misrepresentations of Missing Women in the US Press: The Rhetorical Uses of Disgust, Pity, and Compassion by Arabella Lyon

US popular media representations of women’s rights allow the nation-state to manipulate the divide between a universal standard or rights and a relativist acceptance of the cultures, both patriarch norms, to promote the model that benefits their alliances with a variety of regimes (174).

Media should ideally help citizens to bridge the ethical spheres between nations and to define what obligations and responsibilities the citizens and governments in the developed world have. In doing so, the media could work to move audiences from spectators to advocates, represent human rights in a context of human needs, and show fewer surface images and more complex portrayals of women in other cultures (174).

In interpreting a violation or protection of women’s rights, activists, citizens, and scholars hould understand the role of persuasion and rhetorical deliberation in representing and responding to the acts. …Sophisticated observers may not fully grasp to what degree constructing and interpreting human rights is a rhetorical act, pregnant with collection and deivision, on the brink of proposed action or inaction. ..Scholars do not know enough about what audiences to with images of human rights violations or how the images might lead to deliberation and future action (174).

Long before globalization and mass media, emotion was understood as useful for political manipulation (175).

Currently rather than educate emotions to identify (with) the conditions of others, the press repeatedly offers voyeuristic representations that foster sentimentality and charity at best, but more often simply perceptions of abject and debased women, not people worthy of engagement. The popular press rarely represents someone in similitude (likeness), but rather symbolizes her for consumption by a bread-and-circus audience. We are offered a spectacle of misery, not a politics of pity, let alone a path to just action. (176).

In revealing the media’s persuasive or rhetorical effects on readers and viewers, I show how US citizens are taught to understand China and its women. China’s missing women become a focus of American fears, fears of the potential power of China’s centralized government, of the values of a different religious and philosophical tradition, and its huge and potentially world-dominating population, all of whose planning policies are a symptom. The focus on China’s so-called one-child policy has served US politicians to separate us from China….By not representing women as fully developed subjects, but rather symbols of nation-states, the press, in essence, focuses on US politics and policy and not on women’s rights. Hence, missing women in other Asian countries rarely appear in the American press because their deaths are not caused by state-sponsored birth control, but rather by what is characterized as family decision-making. ….Women’s bodies are the site of patriarchal and national struggle, but neither the needs of those bodies nor their humanity are represented. In fact the women are rarely represented. (177).

If citizens of US are unfamiliar with the choices other nations make as they distribute goods and if they have never experienced different local, material conditions not considered a continuum of rights practices, they cannot make reasonable assessments of foreign governments nor understand the relationship between material well being and commitments to peace (177).

The move to differentiate China’s family size from the “normal” creates a more authoritarian Chinese governement and a more oppressed Chinese people, and yet, paradoxically, it reduces concern about the abortion, abandonment, and neglect of daughters (179).

News stories of one-child policy and missing women offer little to help us understand the lives of women beyond their failed and repelling bodies. The subjective distance created, in effect, isolates citizens from a position of compassion with or without political engagement. A spectator may well be dismayed, but the images of women offer her no political connection—pity, compassion, communitarian—to the women’s lives, the Chinese, and their traditions of human rights and decision making . In assistance, the press leaves the US citizens without a frame for becoming involved in the scene of the tragedy (180).

These new stories fail to represent Chinese women with the kind of consciousness that would encourage Americans to imagine their participation in the formation of a world more just to women (181).

Suffering is often offered as entertainment (181)… and US citizen is set on safe ground of moral indignation (182).

There is nothing in these pieces to prompt self-reflexivity or critical exploration of international human rights discourse….To understand the material conditions of other women’s lives and the place of rights, citizens need studies of multiple patriarchies, international economic conditions, and sufficient connection for compassionate action (184).

Rather than respresentations of bodies (exteriors), audiences should hear the discourses of and from these women, what we might shorthand as their interiority, their personhood (184).

Rather than insist on a universal standard, the US Press could more responsibly show how nations negotiate relationships to a standard of human decency (184)

Abdullah Ahmed An-Na’im argues it is necessary “to explore the possibilities of cultural reinterpretation and reconstruction through internal cultural discourse and cross cultural dialogue.” That is, to understand the violations of human rights, sometimes we need to understand individual rights, communal rights, and economic capabilities within a particular culture (185).

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Rough Notes on Transnational Feminism and Rhetoric

Definition of Transnational Feminism

Nayereh Tohidi http://www.history.ucla.edu/dubois/Transnational%20Feminism.html

Transnational feminism is directly connected to the processes of globalization. Socioeconomic and socio-demographic changes at both the local national and global levels contributed to the emergence of transnational feminism in the mid-1908s and early-1990s. Transnational feminism is the academic and theoretical dimension of this phenomena.
The most important change at the local and national levels has been the growth in the size and quality of the new middle class and working class women in different countries. Declining fertility rates, thanks to better control women have gained over their bodies and sexualities, has contributed to educational attainment, gainful employment, unionization, civic engagement, consciousness raising and social networking among women. Thanks to the theoretical and research contributions of second wave feminism, exposing the gendered nature and masculinist orientation of nationalism and nation-state projects, disillusionment with male-dominated socialism and socialist movement, and confrontation with religious politics, especially Islamic fundamentalism, have all contributed to this emergence of transnational feminism.

Feminist criticism about the male biases within the projects of nationalism, development, and modernization that compromise women’s rights and women’s opportunities and also women’s movements, coincided with the rapidly penetrating processes of globalization. Global mass culture, the diminishing power of the nation state and national borders, the new liberal economic policies, especially the decline of the welfare state, the emergence and expansion of new communication technology, the Internet in particular, and the United Nations regional, national and world conferences on women all paved the way to the emergence of transnational feminism.

The concept of transnational feminism offers the desirability and possibility of a political solidarity of feminists across the globe that transcends class, race, sexuality and national boundaries.

Maylei Blackwell

Like the conceptualization of borders that the late poet, intellectual Gloria Anzaldua wrote about, transnational feminisms are spaces of conflict, of contradiction, of contact in which women, women of color, and other marginalized actors, have transformed discourses and spaces that exclude them, i.e. human rights discourse or the space of the U.N., into spaces of possibility and collaboration.

Possible Outline of Seminary Paper:

Define transnational feminismt connection to globalization

Present key figures and the converstations that have unfolded. Show how rhetoric is major player in this work. Mohanty, Sandoval, Grewel and Kaplan, Alexander.

Define global turn of our own field.

Then illustrate how scholars in our field are using transnational feminist theory in rhetorical studies. Hesford, Mary Queen, others.

Therein, Discuss objectives: criticism, agency, empowerment,

methodologies: Discourse analysis, rhetorical criticism, rhetorical visual analysis

Discuss role of rhetoric. TF involves rhetorical analysis of:
• Human rights discourse
• Rhetorics of Protest
• Rhetorics of Silence
• Rhetorics of Resistance
• Rhetorical Agency/Empowerment
• Discourse of Globalization—dominant scripts
• Identity Construction in Globalize World
• Rhetorics of Labor
• Rhetorical framework of National Economy vs. Global
• Feminist Discourse of Globalization
• Activist rhetoric
• Rhetorics of Violence/Non-violence
• Rhetorics of US policy and UN policy

Define rhetorical strategies:
Absence/presence—absence of speaker and presence of auditory narrative of trauma gives trauma presence without making spectacle of speaker/victim
Rhetorical listening—ratcliffe, through listening we can avail arguments that may bring differences closer together
Rhetorical Witnessing
Rhetorical Negotiation—process of working through trauma as an act that involves the negotiation of available cultural and national scripts and truth-telling conventions.
Rhetorical specificity
Spectatorization—transnational subjects become transnational artifacts
Rhetorical sentimentality
Visual rhetorics

Transnational Feminist Genres: Hesford: “Documenting Violations”

Testimonio-“lateral move of identification through relationship which acknowledges the possible differences among ‘us’ as components of a centerless whole” (quoted in Hesford, Sommar)
• -retains rhetorical appeal of the particular yet situates particular with the communal—the plural “I”
• affirmation of individual self in a collective mode
• Beverely says “situation of narrator in testimonio is one that must be representative of a social class or group” for “testimonio implies a challenge to the loss of authority of orality in the context of processes of cultural modernization that privileges literacy and literature as norms of expression”

Testimonios in form of:
• Documentaries—goal is empathetic action
• Autobiographies
• Memoirs
• Autobiographical Novel
• Confessions
• Eyewitness Reports
• Non-fiction novel
• Life history
• Trauma Narratives or testimonials told by first person who recounts trauma of human rights violations—involves testimonies

Rhetoric Turn

• Turn away from nationalistic concerns to global with recognition of need to join conversation abut pressures of globalization and consequences of New US Nationalism (Hesford PMLA)
• Turn away from disciplinary and national attachments to identity (Hesford)
• Turn away from concerns with establishment of unified discipline
• Call by Reynolds (in Hesford plma) for spatial methodology that enables writers to account for “their own locatedness” and that recognizes “differences in people’s sociospatial worlds and their unequal access to modes of travel”
• Focus on Hush-harbor rhetorics and hip-hop as hush-harbor rhetoric
• Requires a comparative-historical frame and a broader understanding of culture, text context, and the public sphere than what traditional rhetorical and ethnographic criticism provides
• Ethnographic practices that “trace paths of circulation and travel rather than assume the fixity and rootedness of subjects
• Understanding the intertexuality of local and global cultures
• Study of role of persuasion in the formation of transnational publics
• Critical cosmopolitanism—use of global ethnography to reshape our approach to the rhetorical concepts of identification and difference and broaden our understanding of text, culture, and context


• Develop role rhetoric can play in shaping course of globalization

Possible methodologies which are lacking to study transnational rhetorical practices and publics
• Critical studies of rhetorical history
• Interrogation of
o why certain rhetors and rhetorical communities were excluded from canon in first place
o strategic use of silence as a rhetorical method
o how rhetorical power is trafficked
o recent debates over rhetorical methods among feminist historiographers
o transnational perspective on feminist rhetoric and the geopolitics of identification and on rhetorical location
o old rhetorical strategies that are still at play in todays geopolitics, such:
• formalized, moralistic language of official discourse
• conspiracy theory and the rhetoric of condemnation
• anti-american sentiment
• objectification and dehumanization of groups deemed a threat to social mobility
o rhetorics of non-violence
• rhetorical hermeneutics—tools for interpreting texts and producing them—use of rhetoric to practice theory by doing history
• rhetorics of national security
• discourse analysis and rhetorical criticism
• national public rhetoric in US

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Warning: Long Summary ahead. Feel free to skip to my comments below.

“Locational Feminism: Gender, Cultural Geographics, and Geopolitical Literacy”—Susan Stanford Friedman

In this article, Susan Stanford Friedman articulates a feminist geopolitics and a feminist spatial rhetoric/literacy, which have risen in Third Wave feminism from the need to develop a geographically situated feminism that is both local and global in scope and does not erase difference (21). Friedman argues for a “re-singularization of feminism” in which theory and praxis work together to: acknowledge the various manifestations of feminism across borders and time; focus on local conditions and resistances that develop within regional/national/transnational contexts; and track transcultural formations that migrate fluidly through space (21).

Friedman begins this article by discussing the motivations behind the pluralization of feminism, which occurred alongside the Civil Rights movement, explaining that the added s was an attempt to both disrupt the homogeneity of experience implied in the singular term feminism and acknowledge the multiple differences of race, sexual preference, class, and age of women in specific geographical locations. Friedman calls for a re-singularization of the term feminism, not to return to a universal feminist subjectivity or homogenous feminist movement, nor to imply that the acknowledgement of differences of women in specific geographic locations is no longer needed. Rather Friedman calls for a locational feminism, which “acknowledges the historically and geographically specific forms in which feminism emerges, takes root, changes, travels, translates, and transplants in different spacio/temporal contexts” (3). Friedman explains that feminism is global in the sense of its “widespread indigenous formations,” but also global because of “the way it travels, transplants, and transculturates” (3).

TRANSCULTURATION—ongoing process in which a culture absorbs and redefines within its own terms what it takes from others as an effect of multiple contact zones (4).

Locational feminism, Friedman writes, emphasizes the spatial over the temporal, the geographical specificity over the historical (4). To explore the meanings of spatiality of as well as the cultural epistemology embedded in feminist theory and praxis, Friedman maps the spatial rhetorics in contemporary US feminist theory, which has evolved to suit the postmodern, global condition (4).

RHETORIC—linguistic materiale, which reveals widespread categories of social thought as these in turn shape how we understand human experience (5). “Any give rhetoric has a particular history and location requiring historiographic genealogies and “thick descriptions” of local manifestations” (5).

In order to uncover the cultural epistemology of feminist rhetoric, Friedman explores the shift in rhetoric which occurs between 2nd and 3rd wave feminism, marked by a shift “from a prevailing temporal rhetoric of awakening, revelation, and rebirth to a spatial rhetoric of location, multipositionality, and migration” (5). Second wave feminism, Friedman explains, is a linear narrative of “consciousness raising,” which focuses on “gender in isolation from other systems of stratification” (8). Third wave feminism, on the other hand, is a dynamic and dialogic “discourse of negotiation” embedded in geographical specificity, which embraces the “interaction” of gender with power relations based on race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, nation, etc. (8). Spatial rhetorics, or spatial metarophics as Friedman identifies it, “suggests [ongoing and never-ending] fluid and flexible ways of being that posit identity as relational, situational, and interactive” (8).

Friedman also refers to this spatial rhetoric as the “new geographies of location.”

NEW GEOGRAPHIES OF LOCATION—“figures identity as a historically embedded site, a positionality, a standpoint, a terrain, an intersection, a web, a network, a crossroads of multiple situated knowledges” (8). Maps out “territories and boundaries, contours and topographies, the dialectical terrains of inside/outside or center/margin, the axial intersections of different positionalities, and the spaces of dynamic encounter—the ‘contact zone,’ the ‘middle ground,’ the borderlands, the frontera” (8-9).

This figuring of identity, Friedman explains, is made possible by a blending, clashing, and overlapping of rhetoric from feminism, multiculturalism, poststructuralism, postcolonial studies (9).

In order to help her reader negotiate this rhetoric, Friedman spends quite a bit of time defining specific spatial rhetorics common to the field.

2nd and 3rd wave feminism developed a discourse now commonplace in the field. For instance, it is now commonplace in feminist theory to refer to the:

the POSITION-one occupies
the STANDPOINT—from which one speaks
and the LOCATION-within which one’s agency negotiates.

One’s SUBJECTIVITY “takes shape at the intersections or crossroads of different systems of stratification [or AXES OF DIFFERENCE] where the circuit of power and privilege are multidirectional and complex” (10).

From my understanding then, a discourse of negotiation, aids one in understanding, constructing, and articulating the dynamic mulitipositionality of our subjectivies. In order for this to be possible, Friedman says we must develop SPATIAL LITERACY, which recognizes that our identity is comprised of multiple spatial locations (12).

Friedman explains that this spatial literacy demands a “grammar of geopolitical feminist rhetoric” (12). In the past, politics in feminist rhetoric has referred to “power relations in general, in the private as well as the public sphere, in the relation between the sexes as well as between governmental units” (12). A feminist geopolitics “encourages examination of gender in multipositional contexts” (13).

FEMINIST GEOPOLITICS—“examination of power relations as they are embedded in the earth, in a given location, and as they migrant around the earth locally, regionally, nationally, and transnationally” (13).

Feminist geopolitics is different from “global feminism,” which assumed a universal patriarchy and expected a universal sisterhood in an effort to resist it. Feminist geopolitics favors instead “locational heterogeneity and idiomatic [and multiple agencies] particularly in transnational context, ” which Spivak advocates for in “transnational literacy” (13). From this perspective, feminist ideas and activism, Friedman explains “travel from place to place…take root and translate local idioms, each with their own agendas and negotiations within the context of particular locations” (13). The geopolitical nature of feminism derives then from the “interconnection of local gender systems worldwide as well as the hybridization of different feminisms” (14).

The geopolitical feminist rhetoric, Friedman points out, which “operates according to a transnational grammar with a number of specific figural formations” (14) is actually a pattern of tropes, what she calls METAPHORICS, of nation, border, migration, ‘glocation,’ and conjuncture (14).

NATION—typically refers to state-to-state relations in international context. Women’s relation to state is one of ambivalence in which women are “caught between identification with national aspirations and recognition of men’s special privilege within most state formations” (14). As nations are tangled in the web of international relations, women are caught in a web of multipositionality [My interpretation].

BORDER—suggests not only “material conditions as they impact on gender formations but also their figural function to describe psychological, spiritual, and cultural borderlands of differences of all kinds” (14). [Think Anzaldua here, of course]. What is important to notes is that borders can be erected to defend against or constrain the Other; borders are “porous sites of intercultural mixing, cultural hybridization, and creolization; border are “spaces of desire for connection, utopian longing, and blending of differences” (15).

MIGRATION—“relies on both metaphorics of nation and borders but develops them even further to reflect on the meanings of immigration, constant travel back and forth, and diaspora for spatial modes of thinking about identity,” which influence identity as a whole (15).

GLOCATIONAL—“notion of how the local and global are co-complicit, each implicated in the other” (18). Discourse which “respects the material and cultural specificities of local feminist formations, and encourages analysis of how the gender/race/class system in one location is politically and economically linked to that of another” (18). “Thinking glocationally involves understanding how the local, the private, and the domestic are constituted in relation to global systems, and conversely how such systems must be read for their particular locational inflection” (19).

CONJUNCTURE—epistemological juncture, derived from the juxtaposition of different cultural formations, which sheds light on each and for the way in which each discursive systems ‘interrupts’ the other” (19).

Conjuncture leads to cultural parataxis.

CULTURAL PARATAXIS—form of “conjucture or superimposition developed particularly as a part of modernist poetics to describe the radical juxtapositions the poets and artists made with a deliberate suppression of explicit connection” (19). Think collage here.

Friedman notes that as a “mode of geopolitical rhetoric that reflects the intensification and acceleration of globalization in postmodern age, cultural parataxis “performs an imaginative travel from one cultural formation to another for the insight about both that potentially ensues” (19). Cultural parataxis can especially shed light on the influence of race and class on gender oppression between two cultures.

In her conclusion, Friedman claims “a greater awareness of feminist spatial rhetoric in turn fosters the development of a locational feminism that is geographically inflected and global in scope without the erasure of difference” (21).


What is so fascinating to me (don’t laugh Trish and Tanya) about Friedman’s article is the way she maps feminist rhetoric on the page. For someone just growing interested in transnational feminism from a rhetorical perspective, Friedman’s article tastes as delicious as a cheese pizza with fresh basil and tomatoes and a thin, crispy crust. My mouth salivated when I was reading her article because it was so rich with rhetoric. Perhaps, I was truly just craving the personal pizza I was waiting for at Paneras as I read the article, but the point is that when reading her article it became extremely clear how vital rhetoric is for the field of feminism. I think this is what attracts me to the field of feminism–the awareness feminists have about the role rhetoric plays not only in the construction of their field but also the construction of the cultural, political, social identity. What became clear to me when reading about metaphorics is that as much as rhetoric creates the nation, rhetoric also creates the self. (I am one of those persons who has epiphanies late in life, so for those of you who have always known that language creates us, bare with me.) I think that is why Anzaldua has become so popular in recent years. She offers a fresh way of conceiving and understanding how rhetoric composes our identities as well as our cultures.

When I first read Friedman’s article, I started thinking of the multipositionality of our own field. You only need to to the CCR homepage and click on faculty and students to see the diversity in the positions we occupy, the standpoints we speak from, and the locations within which we negotiate agency. Each of our scholar subjectivities take shape at various intersections of different systems of stratification where the circuit of power and privilege are multidirectional and complex.

As I read I couldn’t help but find myself replacing the word feminism with the word rhetoric. Consider:

A locational rhetoric is one that acknowledges the historically and geographically specific forms in which rhetoric emerges, takes root, changes, travels, translates, and transplants in different spacio/temporal contexts. Perhaps, when we speak of cultural rhetoric, we are really speaking about locational rhetoric. After all, doesn’t it make sense to think of cultural rhetoric as a dynamic and dialogic “discourse of negotiation” embedded in geographical specificity, which embraces the “interaction” of rhetoric with power relations based on race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, nation, etc. As Friedman herself notes, “rhetoric has a particular history and location requiring historiographic genealogies and ‘thick descriptions’ of local manifestations.”

Also, last night Trish, Tanya, Zosha and I were talking about tension that some think exists between English Lit. program and ours’. This discussion, for me, served as evidence for the tension or misunderstanding that exists between the disciplines of Literary Studies and Rhetoric and Composition as a whole. Thinking of that tension, when thinking about this essay, I couldn’t help but think of what would happen if we attempted to analyze our field and ourselves as scholars through the metaphorics of nation, borders, migration, ‘glocation,’ and conjucture.

NATION—typically refers to state-to-state relations in international context. Here I see it as discipline-to-discipline relations in academic context. R and C’s relation to English Departments, in which they are often housed, is one of ambivalence in which R and C teachers/professors are caught between identification with department aspirations and recognition of Literary studies special privilege within most department formations. As nations are tangled in the web of international relations, R and C teachers/professors are caught in a web of multipositionality.

BORDER—suggests not only material conditions as they impact on our field’s formations but also their figural function to describe psychological, spiritual, and cultural borderlands of differences of all kinds. As Friedman notes, what is important to notes is that borders can be erected to defend against or constrain the Other; borders are “porous sites of intercultural mixing, cultural hybridization, and creolization; border are “spaces of desire for connection, utopian longing, and blending of differences” (15). What borders do we as R and C scholars/teachers/professors erect? What borders constrain us? As a porous site, what does the creolization of our field entail? What desires to we have for connection, utopian longing, and blending our differences?

MIGRATION—How do we constantly travel back and forth between disciplines? How has the diaspora for those of us who have moved away from English departments affected our identity as a whole?

GLOCATIONAL—How could we develop a discourse which respects the material and cultural specificities of each of our local disciplinary formations and encourages analysis of how the discourse/theory/practice system in one location is politically and economically linked to that of another?

CONJUNCTURE—How might a juxtaposition of our different disciplinary formations shed light on each and for the way in which each discursive systems ‘interrupts’ the other?

I don’t know if any of these questions are truly useful, but perhaps because I am new to the field and seem to be experiencing a bit of crisis identity coming from an English Department to CCR, and because I am still trying to discern just what the field of Rhetoric and Composition is since it seems to be so interdisciplinary, these questions or this spatial rhetoric seems to be able to offer some possibilities into how I/we might better understand the multipositionality of our field and the tension that still exists between the English Literature and C and R disciplines…..

Anybody? Anybody??


Filed under cultural rhetorics exam