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The Curious Feminist

Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire

Cynthia Enloe (Author)


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In this collection of lively essays, Cynthia Enloe makes better sense of globalization and international politics by taking a deep and personal look into the daily realities in a range of women's lives. She proposes a distinctively feminist curiosity that begins with taking women seriously, especially during this era of unprecedented American influence. This means listening carefully, digging deep, challenging assumptions, and welcoming surprises. Listening to women in Asian sneaker factories, Enloe reveals, enables us to bring down to earth the often abstract discussions of the global economy. Paying close attention to Iraqi women's organizing efforts under military occupation exposes the false global promises made by officials. Enloe also turns the beam of her inquiry inward. In a series of four candid interviews and a new set of autobiographical pieces, she reflects on the gradual development of her own feminist curiosity. Describing her wartime suburban girlhood and her years at Berkeley, she maps the everyday obstacles placed on the path to feminist consciousness—and suggests how those obstacles can be identified and overcome.

The Curious Feminist shows how taking women seriously also challenges the common assumption that masculinities are trivial factors in today's international affairs. Enloe explores the workings of masculinity inside organizations as diverse as the American military, a Serbian militia, the UN, and Oxfam. A feminist curiosity finds all women worth thinking about, Enloe claims. She suggests that we pay thoughtful attention to women who appear complicit in violence or in the oppression of others, or too cozily wrapped up in their relative privilege to inspire praise or compassion. Enloe's vitality, passion, and incisive wit illuminate each essay. The Curious Feminist is an original and timely invitation to look at global politics in an entirely different way.
Introduction: Being Curious about Our Lack of Feminist Curiosity

Part 1. Sneakers, Silences, and Surprises

1. The Surprised Feminist
2. Margins, Silences, and Bottom Rungs: How to Overcome the Underestimation of Power in the Study of International Relations
3. The Globetrotting Sneaker
4. Daughters and Generals int he Politics of the Globalized Sneaker
5. Whom Do You Take Seriously?
6. Feminist Theorizing from Bananas to Maneuvers: A Conversation between Cynthia Enloe and Marysia Zalewski

Part 2. Wars Are Never “Over There”

7. All the Men Are in the Militias, All the Women Are Victims: The Politics of Masculinity and Femininity in Nationalist Wars
8. Spoils of War
9. Masculinity as a Foreign Policy Issue
10. “What If They Gave a War . . . “: A Conversation between Cynthia Enloe, Vivian Stromberg, and the Editors of Ms. Magazine
11. Sneak Attack: The Militarization of U.S. Culture
12. War-Planners Rely on Women: Thoughts from Tokyo
13. Feminists Keep Their Eyes on Militarized Masculinity: Wondering How Americans See Their Male Presidents
14. Becoming a Feminist: Cynthia Enloe in Conversation with Three British International Relations Scholars

Part 3. Feminists after Wars--It’s Not Over Til It’s Over

15. Women after Wars: Puzzles and Warnings from Vietnam
16. Demilitarization--Or More of the Same? Feminist Questions to Ask in the Postwar Moment
17. A Feminist Map of the Blocks on the Road to Institutional Accountability
18. When Feminists Look at Masculinity and the Men Who Wage War: A Conversation between Cynthia Enloe and Carol Cohn
19. Updating the Gendered Empire: Where Are the Women in Occupied Afghanistan and Iraq?

Part 4. Six Pieces for a Work in Progress: Playing Checkers with the Troops

20. War without White Hats
21. Playing Guns
22. Hitler Is a Jerk
23. Leaden Soldiers
24. Gurkhas Wear Wool
25. The Cigarette

Cynthia Enloe is Research Professor of Women's Studies and International Development at Clark University. She is the author of Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics (2001), Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives (1999), and The Morning After: Sexual Politics at the End of the Cold War (1993), all from California.
Cynthia Enloe won the Howard Zinn Lifetime Achievement in Peace Studies Award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA).
"The book is a sensitive gendered analysis of interlocking developments from globalized economic markets to war and post-conflict dynamics. While Enloe's book brings out the complexities of women's positions in a very immediate way as they play out in large scale platforms of power, survival, politics, and profit, she also convincingly shows the links between and importance of women's everyday lives."—Carolyn Nordstrom, author of Shadows of War: Violence, War, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century

"With an unwavering gender optic Cynthia Enloe examines a number of themes and issues bearing on what a feminist curiosity can show you in international relations and political studies. Throughout this collection of essays, Enloe both articulates and exemplifies her philosophy that knowledge comes out of ordinary people's experiences, and that it's important to pay attention to what the marginal and silent can tell us."—Cynthia Cockburn, author of The Space Between Us: Negotiating Gender and National Identities in Conflict

"Enloe's knack of laying out simply the tangled webs of connection that link the poor and the rich, the marginal and the privileged, masculine enterprise and female exploitation, is unsurpassed. This is feminist scholarship at its very, very best: fresh, lively, uncompromising and tremendously readable."—Philippa Levine, author of Prostitution, Race and Politics: Policing Venereal Disease in the British Empire

"Brilliant, funny, and energizing, these essays take us on a whirlwind and solidarity-building tour of the world of women today. En route, Enloe reveals the intellectual and political benefits of being relentlessly curious, open-minded, and humble. The confidence of the powerful and the naturalness of a world with men in charge will not seem the same after reading this book.”—Catherine Lutz, author of Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century

"At the heart of this book is a challenge to patriarchal systems that privilege masculinity and marginalize critical feminist voices. Enloe encourages all of us to consider not just what we study, but how we study the world in this new age of empire and to pay attention to not just the powerful, but to 'the bottom rungs'."—Steven Lamy, Director, School of International Relations, University of Southern California

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