Notes: Sara Ahmed, “Introduction: Bringing Feminist Theory Home” in Living a Feminist Life

Ahmed, Sara. (2017). Introduction: Bringing feminist theory home. Living a feminist life. Durham: Duke University Press, 1-18.

Summary:

Ahmed opens her book by describing how living a feminist life is a question of living and outlining the premises for the feminist theory and work she conducts arrive and are constructed within the text as modeling these living questions.

Keywords: Feminism, feminist theory, intersectionality, theory

Quotations:

“To build feminist dwellings, we need to dismantle what has already been assembled; we need to ask what it is we are against, what it is we are for, knowing full well that this we is not a foundation but what we are working toward” (p. 2).

“Hope does not only or always point toward the future, but carries us through when the terrain is difficult, when the path we follow makes it hard to proceed. Hope is behind us when we have to work for something to be possible” (p. 2).

Where we find feminism matters; from whom we find feminism matters” (p. 5, original emphasis).

“Intersectionality is a starting point, the point from which we must proceed if we are to offer an account of how power works” (p. 5).

“There is no guarantee that in struggling for justice we ourselves will be just. We have to hesitate, to temper the strength of our tendencies with doubt; to waver when we are sure, or even because we are sure” (p. 6-7).

“We can be space invaders in the academy; we can be space invaders in theory too, just by referring to the wrong text or by asking the wrong questions” (p. 9).

A question can be out of place: words too” (p. 9, original emphasis).

“To bring feminist theory home is to make feminism work in the places we live, the places we work. When we think of feminist theory as homework, the university too becomes something we work on as well as at. We use our particulars to challenge the universal” (p. 10).

“I began to appreciate that theory can do more the closer it gets to the skin” (p. 10).

“[I]f we start with our experiences of becoming feminists not only might we have another way of generating feminist ideas, but we might generate new ideas about feminism” (p. 12).

“I think of feminism as a building project: if our texts are worlds, they need to be made out of feminist materials” (p. 14).

“To be a feminist at work is or should be about how we challenge ordinary and everyday sexism, including academic sexism. This is not optional: it is what makes feminism feminist” (p. 14).

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