Rethinking Vulnerability and Resistance: Feminism and Social Change
This project brought together a wide range of feminist scholars who work on the problem of women, vulnerability, and social change with an eye to understanding both the risks of establishing women as a vulnerable population (especially when, according to nationalist norms, some women are regarded as vulnerable, and minority women are not), the tactical deployment of the status of vulnerability, and the promise of developing new modes of collective agency that do not deny vulnerability as a resource. It considered both the power differential and modes of agency among women that mobilize vulnerability within tactics of resistance. In other words, this group sought to understand global practices of social change that emerge from conditions of social and economic vulnerability, and that demonstrate the relation between vulnerability and political agency. Topics included a gendered analysis of war, literacy and education, and economic precarity and inequality, with the hope of identifying sites of social vulnerability and modes of social change. A goal of the project was to bring together artists, critics, and philosophers who offer theoretical perspectives on the sources of social change, focusing on modes of alliance that are characterized by interdependency and public action. The group also asked about the gendering of perceived or marked vulnerabilities and how they function to expand or justify those structures of power that seek to achieve ethnic, economic or cultural-religious dominance in specific social contexts.