Female spin on foreign affairs tackles masculine domain

International Feminist Journal of Politics
October 6, 2000

The idea for the International Feminist Journal of Politics took shape in discussions held by the feminist theory and gender-studies section of the US-based International Studies Association. As the editors state, a key aim is to make visible and vocal a feminist space in international studies.

That such a journal is necessary cannot be disputed. International studies is dominated by men and located within a masculinist framework that has made women invisible and has marginalised feminist issues. The time is ripe for the interventions this journal hopes to make.

Besides a book reviews section, the journal has three main features: the usual academic articles, shorter analytical essays that discuss a form of popular (Western?) culture, and conversational pieces. As one would expect, there are articles exploring themes of gender, nationalism and women's citizenship in societies as diverse as France, Zimbabwe, Israel, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

The more theoretical aspects of these debates are explored by Nira Yuval-Davis. She suggests that in this age of "glocalisation", we need to see citizenship as a multi-layered construct that is affected and partly constructed by relationships and positionings within the different layers of belonging - local, ethnic, national state, cross or supra-state.

Issues surrounding power and boundaries, especially those between "private" and "public" or between collectivity and the state, are integral to issues of identity, which are explored in a number of contributions. The feature on the teaching of women's studies, specifically a course on global feminism, on the other hand, considers how we can speak of a "feminist" politics when the emphasis today is less on sisterhood than on the differences between women, and on the cross-cultural rather than the culturally specific.

The discussions of the film G. I. Jane bring a welcome lighter note to such lofty considerations, while the "conversations" section includes an interview with feminist doyenne of international studies Cynthia Enloe, whose Bananas, Beaches and Bases was published more than a decade ago. But there is too little background about the book and its impact to make the conversation immediately accessible to the uninitiated reader.

For any journal to succeed, a suitable market niche must be found. This journal is off to an excellent start as its content is relevant not just to international studies but also to women's studies, cultural studies, politics, social policy and sociology.

June Purvis is professor of women's and gender history, University of Portsmouth.

International Feminist Journal of Politics: 3 times a year - http://journals/routledge.com

Editor - Gillian Youngs, Kathleen B. Jones and Jan Jindy Pettman
ISBN - ISSN 1461 6742
Publisher - Routledge
Price - £132.00 (instits); £34.00 (indivs)

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