Innocent Subjects: Feminism and Whiteness

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    Terese Jonsson

    Publisher: Pluto Books

    Year: 2020

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 256 pages

    ISBN: 9780745337500

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In a time of intensified global white supremacist and patriarchal violence, anti-racist feminist movements and analyses have never been more vital. Women of colour are at the forefront of these struggles worldwide - but are white feminists really by their side?

Despite a rich history of Black and postcolonial critiques of racist and imperial feminist politics, racism still exists within contemporary British feminism. To explain why, Terese Jonsson examines the history of feminism over the last forty years. She argues that Black feminism's role in shaping the movement has been marginalised through narratives which repeatedly position white women at the centre of the story, from the women's liberation movement in the 1970s to today.

Analysing the ways in which whiteness continues to pervade feminist literature, as well as feminist debates in the liberal media, Jonsson demonstrates that, despite an increased attention to race, intersectionality and difference, stories told by white feminists are shaped by their desire to maintain an 'innocent' position towards racism.

What People Are Saying

'Valuable ... Shows how and why the erasure of race from key accounts of feminism presents a problem for forms of solidarity among women' - Vron Ware, author of 'Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism and History' (Verso, 2015)

'Courageously reveals the fault lines of the longstanding gulf between black and white feminism, exposing the power of white privilege in gender politics and how it undermines solidarity within the sisterhood. A must for a new generation of antiracist feminist scholars and activists who truly seek the holy grail of intersectional equality' - Heidi Safia Mirza, editor of 'Black British Feminism' (Routledge, 1997)

'A searing account of how white feminist innocence is maintained in order to legitimise white women's position at the centre of feminist politics. This book is a must read for anyone interested in questions of feminism and anti-racism' - Nadine El-Enany, author of '(B)ordering Britain: Law, Race and Empire' (Manchester University Press, 2020)

'Building on the work of black feminists and women of colour, this is a profound mediation on white innocence and its deployment in the service of white feminism to deny racism. It offers a renewed possibility for racial justice and resistance to white patriarchal supremacy' - Aileen Moreton-Robinson, RMIT, Melbourne

‘A brave and coherent introduction to the relationship between white privilege and feminism’ - LSE Review of Books

About the Author

Terese Jonsson is an independent feminist scholar and editor with a PhD in Gender Studies from London Metropolitan University. She is a member of the editorial collective of Feminist Review.

Table of Contents

1. ‘That Old Chestnut’: Feminism and Racism
2. British Feminisms in the Aftermath of Empire
3. Leaving Feminist Whiteness Behind: Narratives of Transcendence in the Era of Difference
4. Inevitable Whiteness? Absolving White Feminist Dominance
5. Liberal Whiteness and the ‘New’ Feminism
6. Feminist Complicities

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