Notes: Sara Ahmed, “Trying to Transform” in Living a Feminist Life

Ahmed, Sara. (2017). Trying to transform. Living a feminist life. Durham: Duke University Press, 93-114.

Summary:

Drawing on her own experiences and with interviews with diversity workers, Ahmed writes how diversity work is willful work, is feminist work, articulating how spaces are shaped by the bodies that can access them and how diversity work is the sustained labor of changing that access.

Keywords: feminism, feminist theory, theory, killjoy, diversity, access

Quotations:

‘[I]t is through the effort to transform institutions that we generate knowledge about them” (p. 93).

“When we have to think strategically, we also have to accept our complicity: we forgo any illusions of purity; we give up the safety of exteriority” (p. 94).

“Diversity work becomes about diversifying the pathways for information so it is more likely to get to the right destination” (p. 95).

“The mechanical aspect of diversity work is revealed most explicitly when the system is working. In other words, a system is working when an attempt to transform that system is blocked” (p. 96-97).

“Universal = white men. In making this equation, we are showing how a universal not only universalizes from particular bodies, but is an invitation to those very bodies, providing a space in which they can be accommodated” (111).

“[A] fantasy of inclusion is a technique of exclusion” (p. 112).

“In order for some things that have appeared not to disappear, we have to keep up the pressure; we have to become pressure points” (p. 112).

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