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Conceptus interruptus: Forestalling sureties about violence and feminism

  • Anne Sisson Runyan (a1)

Abstract

Forestalling sureties about what constitutes violence and feminism and the relationships between violence and feminism have been significant themes in the work of feminist International Relations theorist Marysia Zalewski. I follow how Zalewski, through her work and work with others including myself, interrupts well-trodden ‘trails’ of violence and feminism to open up thinking about both. I consider how her provocative work on violence and particularly feminist violence prefigures and advances cutting-edge critical thought on violence as represented in the ‘Histories of Violence’ project. What I call her ‘palimpsestic’ or multilayered and intertextual approach to violence reveals it as not only destructive, but also productive in terms of breaking with deadening conventions. I also consider her conceptualisation of feminist violence as both epistemic and militant over time in relation to some contemporary feminist insurgencies, the kinds of insurgencies that serve as her muses for breaking out of forms of ‘secured’ feminism and opening space for unbounded feminist thought. Consistent with her insistence that theory (and writing) should provide uncomfortable openings, not comforting foreclosures, I end not with a conclusion about her work, but rather echo her call to resist the kind of ‘knowing’ that suffocates critical thinking and (re)generative feminist thought.

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*Corresponding author. Email: anne.runyan@uc.edu

References

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1 Zalewski, Marysia, Feminist International Relations: Exquisite Corpse (London: Routledge, 2013), p. 2.

2 This is part of her large corpus of work, which includes such earlier books as Feminism After Postmodernism?: Theorizing Through Practice (London: Routledge, 2000) and many other co-authored and co-edited volumes and articles on postpositivism, visual politics, masculinities, sexual violence, and feminist IR thought and methods, several of which are cited in this piece and which are reflective of her abiding commitments to feminist poststructural theorising that unmoors feminist thought from corporeal and temporal attachments so as to see it as a mobile and inexhaustible source of and force for critical thought.

3 Zalewski, Feminist International Relations, p. 1.

4 Alexander, M. Jacqui, Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, and the Sacred (New York: New York University Press, 2005), p. 190.

6 Zalewski, Feminist International Relations, p. 34.

7 Ibid., p. 25.

8 Ibid., p. 78.

9 Zalewski, Marysia and Runyan, Anne Sisson, ‘Feminist violence and the in/securing of women and feminism’, in Gentry, Caron E., Shepherd, Laura J., and Sjoberg, Laura (eds), Routledge Handbook of Gender and Security (London: Routledge, 2019), p. 106.

10 Intersectionality, as first posited by Crenshaw, Kimberle (‘Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color’, Stanford Law Review, 43:6 (1991), pp. 1241–99) refers to the structural and political interconnections among race, gender, class, national origin, sexuality, and other oppressions and identities.

11 Ellie Smith, ‘Women's March organizers respond to controversy leading up to rally’, ABC News, available at: {https://abcnews.go.com/beta-story-container/US/womens-march-organizers-respond-controversy-leading-rally/story?id=60469238} accessed 19 January 2019.

12 Women's March, ‘Women's Agenda 2019’, available at {https://womensmarch.com/agenda} accessed 19 January 2019.

13 Both Mallory and Sarsour resigned from the Women's March board in September 2019 amid continuing political backlash.

14 Zalewski, Feminist International Relations, p. 119.

15 Sunera Thobani, ‘War Frenzy’, Colours of Resistance Archive, available at: {http://www.coloursofresistance.org/645/war-frenzy/} accessed 19 January 2019.

16 Dennis Gruending (ed.), Great Canadian Speeches: Talk of the Nation (Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2004).

17 ‘Birmingham Civil Rights Institute reaffirms award for Angela Davis’, Democracy Now, available at: {https://www.democracynow.org/2019/1/25/breaking_birmingham_civil_rights_institute_reaffirms} accessed 26 January 2019.

18 NWSA Statements, ‘NWSA Statement in Support of Angela Davis’, available at: {https://www.nwsa.org/statements#Angela%20Davis} accessed 26 January 2019.

19 Zalewski, Feminist International Relations, p. 119.

20 ‘Histories of Violence’ available at: {https://www.historiesofviolence.com/} accessed 26 January 2019.

21 Brad Evans and David Theo Goldberg, ‘Histories of violence: Violence to thought’, Los Angeles Review of Books (10 July 2017), available at: {https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/histories-of-violence-violence-to-thought#} accessed 26 January 2019.

22 Zalewski, Marysia and Runyan, Anne Sisson, ‘Taking feminist violence seriously in feminist International Relations’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 15:3 (2013), pp. 293313.

23 Brad Evans and Brian Massumi, ‘Histories of violence: Affect, power, violence – the political is not personal’, Los Angeles Review of Books (13 November 2017), available at: {https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/histories-of-violence-affect-power-violence-the-political-is-not-personal} accessed 26 January 2019.

24 Zalewski and Runyan, ‘Taking feminist violence seriously’, p. 297.

27 Brad Evans and Simona Forti, ‘Who is “evil”, and who is the victim?’, New York Times (16 September 2016), available at: {https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/17/opinion/who-is-evil-and-who-is-the-victim.html} accessed 30 January 2019.

28 Zalewski and Runyan, ‘Taking feminist violence seriously’, p. 308.

29 Ibid., p. 297.

30 Ibid., p. 295.

31 Brad Evans and Lauren Berlant, ‘Without exception: On the ordinariness of violence’, Los Angeles Review of Books (30 July 2018), available at: {https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/without-exception-on-the-ordinariness-of-violence} accessed 30 January 2019.

32 Brad Evans and Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘To feel the world's pain and its beauty’, Los Angeles Review of Books (27 February 2017), available at: {https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/feel-worlds-pain-beauty} accessed 30 January 2019.

33 Brad Evans and Jack Chapman, ‘Histories of violence: The violence of art’, Los Angeles Review of Books (5 October 2017), available at: {https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/histories-of-violence-the-violence-of-art} accessed 30 January 2019.

34 Zalewski, Marysia, ‘Thinking feminism and race through the war on terror’, Critical Studies on Terrorism, 6:2 (2013), pp. 313–15.

35 Brad Evans and Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘Art in a time of atrocity’, New York Times (16 December 2016), available at: {https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/16/opinion/art-in-a-time-of-atrocity.html} accessed 2 February 2019.

36 Zalewski, Marysia and Runyan, , ‘“Unthinking” sexual violence in a neoliberal era of spectacular terror’, Critical Studies on Terrorism, 8:3 (2015), pp. 439–55.

37 Ibid., p. 439.

38 Ibid., p. 445.

39 Brad Evans and Elaine Scarry, ‘The intimate life of violence’, Los Angeles Review of Books (4 December 2017), available at: {https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/histories-of-violence-the-intimate-life-of-violence} accessed 3 February 2019.

40 Zalewski and Runyan, ‘“Unthinking” sexual violence’, pp. 446–7.

41 Evans and Massumi, ‘Histories of violence’.

42 Zalewski and Runyan, ‘“Unthinking” sexual violence’, p. 447.

43 Ibid., p. 451.

44 Evans and Ettinger, ‘To feel the world's pain and its beauty’.

45 Zalewski and Runyan, ‘“Unthinking” sexual violence’, p. 453.

46 Brad Evans and Henry A. Giroux, ‘The violence of forgetting’, New York Times (20 January 2016), available at: {https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/opinion/the-violence-of-forgetting.html} accessed 8 February 2019.

47 Zalewski and Runyan, ‘Feminist violence’, p. 107.

49 Brad Evans and Todd May, ‘Histories of violence: Nonviolence and the ghost of fascism’, Los Angeles Review of Books (21 May 2018), available at: {https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/histories-of-violence-nonviolence-and-the-ghost-of-fascism} accessed 8 February 2019.

50 Zalewski and Runyan, ‘Feminist violence’, p. 108.

51 Marysia Zalewski and Anne Sisson Runyan, ‘Security unbound: Spectres of feminism in Trump-time’, Critical Studies on Security (2019), available at: {doi: 10.1080/21624887.2019.1685293}.

52 Zalewski, Marysia, ‘Gender ghosts in McGarry and O'Leary and representations of the conflict in Northern Ireland’, Political Studies, 53 (2005), pp. 201–21.

53 Brad Evans and John Akomfrah, ‘Histories of violence: Landscapes of violence’, Los Angeles Review of Books (5 June 2017), available at: {https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/histories-of-violence-landscapes-of-violence} accessed 8 February 2019.

54 Stern, Maria and Zalewski, Marysia, ‘Feminist fatigue(s): Reflections on feminism and familiar fables of militarization’, Review of International Studies, 35:3 (2009), pp. 611–30.

55 Cynthia Enloe, ‘Disposable Life Lecture’, Histories of Violence, available at: {https://www.historiesofviolence.com/full-lectures-cq5w} accessed 8 February 2019.

56 Zalewski and Runyan, ‘Taking feminist violence seriously’, p. 307.

57 Ibid., pp. 309, 310.

58 Zalewski, Marysia, Drummond, Paula, Prügl, Elisabeth, and Stern, Maria (eds), Sexual Violence Against Men in Global Politics (London: Routledge, 2018).

59 Zalewski, Marysia and Parpart, Jane (eds), The ‘Man’ Question in International Relations (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998) and Parpart, Jane and Zalewski, Marysia (eds), Rethinking the Man Question: Sex, Gender and Violence in International Relations (London: Zed Press, 2008).

60 ‘Women's March Agenda 2019’, pp. 33–7, available at: {https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c3feb79fcf7fdce5a3c790b/t/5df275481257e772df8b6cd8/1576170878086/WM_WomensAgendaFinal_Lo_Res.pdf} accessed 15 February 2019.

61 Kevin Kantor, ‘People you may know’, in Zalewski, Drummond, Prügl, and Stern (eds), Sexual Violence Against Men, p. 254.

Keywords

Conceptus interruptus: Forestalling sureties about violence and feminism

  • Anne Sisson Runyan (a1)

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