CFP: Special Issue for Feminist Theory journal: Lesbian Politics, Feminist Theory

Call issued by Ilana Eloit and Clare Hemmings, Department of Gender Studies, LSE

Our aim for this special issue proposal is to explore the importance of rethinking
feminist politics and feminist theory from a lesbian perspective. While lesbian politics and experiences are often erased or euphemized in the history of feminism, we argue that this absence can be considered an instance of feminist “haunting,” which Avery Gordon has characterized as the “something-to-be-done”: an unresolved feminist contradiction which has not only impacted the way feminist theory is framed but also how feminist stories have been and are being told. However, as Gordon has noted, “the ghost demands your attention” (Gordon 2011, p. 3). We will be asking in this special issue: What happens when lesbian haunting is taken seriously as a starting point in feminist theory and histories of social movements? What changes (or stays the same) when we foreground lesbian theories within variously located histories of feminism, and what changes (or remains) within lesbian theory as well when we de-centre its white and Anglophone canon? What challenges does the (re)centring of lesbian traditions propose to the histories we tell, our canons of thought, or the dominance of certain theoretical strands, as well as what we think of as feminism?

When Monique Wittig, one of the founders of the French Women’s liberation
movement, wrote in 1980 that lesbians were not women, she provided a dramatic
counter-response to second-wave feminism’s approach to lesbianism according to
which “feminism [was] the theory and lesbianism the practice” (Atkinson in
Richardson 1998, p. 282). Indeed, Wittig’s intellectual gesture disrupted such a
feminist ordering of things by elevating lesbianism to the status of feminism’s theory. Despite this, while feminism’s roots in women’s social movements of the 1970s are consistently returned to in accounts of the past, there is no such parallel emphasis for lesbian theory. How did lesbians’ experiences then produce a
new lesbian standpoint and how might this relate to arguments about inclusion or exclusion in the present? How does what we thinking of as ‘lesbian’ change when we think with and through the related and coextensive hauntings of trans*, black, decolonial, working class or other marginal threads within a theoretical or political canon? How do these interrelated hauntings challenge stable definitions of what a lesbian archive is and who its subject is? And lastly, what kinds of solidarities between feminist and lesbian movements and theories emerge when we think in complex ways about the multiple hauntings that are constitutive of that relationship?

We welcome articles of up to 8000 words or more experimental pieces (including poetry, photography, stories, polemic) of up to 5000 words from a wide range of disciplines or inter/disciplinary perspectives. The deadline for work is Friday 14th September 2018 and pieces should be sent to i.m.eloit@lse.ac.uk and c.hemmings@lse.ac.uk in the first instance. If you are planning to submit, please look at the Feminist Theory formatting guidelines to ensure your writing conforms to house style.


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