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Mary Queen – Transnational Feminist Rhetorics in a Digital World

In this essay Queen considers the digital circulations of representations of RAWA (Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan) to demonstrate the importance of a global and digital field for feminist rhetorical analysis.  Specifically this piece considers how the circulation of women’s self-representation across global fields of rhetorical action often “fixes” these women within the neoliberal frawmeworks of “democracy” and “human rights.”  In this process, the agency of 1/3 women’s rhetorics of power is mapped over and onto the 2/3 women’s agency and power.

A main claim in this piece is that feminist groups that adopt neoliberal principles – groups like the Feminist Majority – are extremely dangerous because they are able to spin the “savior” narrative without questioning their own subject position – a subject position shot through with wars for liberation and hypercapitalist practices.  In the case of RAWA, neoliberal feminists are interested in the group not only because they deploy rhetorics of demoracy, freedom, and equality but also because they highlight Muslim oppression of women.

Considering the ephemerality of digital texts, Queen notes that “any rich rhetorical analysis of digital texts must account for both their ephemeral nature and historical nature by examining them as a series of evolving rhetorical actions emerging from and circulating through multiple spatial and temporal contexts” (475).  In other words, this form of analysis requires a conception of the artifact as rhetorical action.

Queen notes some really interesting things in her analysis:

  1. She poses the question of tradition vs. positivist modernity when considering the ways in which mappings of Eastern tradition against Western progress inform the American audience’s perception of the goal of RAWA (and its attendant complicity with democracy/technology/capitalism).
  2. The rhetorically transformative power of the circulation of textual artifacts across digital spaces demonstrates how different rhetorical fields effect the production of circulated texts.

Rebecca Dingo – Linking Transnational Logics: A Feminist Rhetorical Analysis of public Policy Networks

According to D., ‘inclusion’ means “bringing market economic activities to presumed empty and identity-less regions of the world” (490).  D. claims that just as different assemblages began to consider gender-mainstreaming politics, the welfare state fell into crisis, resulting in uneven policy implementation that have negatively affected women.  This unevenness was usually the result of neoliberal reform; however, when writ large, neoliberal redefinitions of gender expectations saw an emphasis for 1st world women to spend more time cultivating family and home while for 3rd world women the expectation was labor at the sites of production far from the home.

Dingo hopes to use the metaphor fo the network in this piece to demonstrate “how the network enables feminist rhetoricians to expose how domestic and international policies are transnationally linked through complex relationships among gendered logics, power, and occasion.”  In so doing Dingo highlights how neoliberalism and neocolonialism create the exigency and rhetorical appeal of gender-inclusion and gender-mainstreaming politics.  Finally, to understand the policy documents that create the aforementioned contradiction, D. argues that rhetoricians must consider circulation logics and contexts that reciprocally shape domestic and international change and norming processes.

Wendy Hesford and Eileen Schell – Introduction: Configurations of Transnationality: Locating Feminist Rhetorics

Considering Anzaldua, H/S note that many ironies have arose in the field of rhet.comp. when considering transnational feminist rhetoric and postcoloniality: institutionalization of resistance, romanticization of mobility and hybrid identities, and tokenization of individual writers over and above a contextual and geopolitical analysis of alternative rhetorical practices (462).  In their introduction, the authors also note how rhet/comp could benefit from the following: more critical engagement with transgeographical concepts, transnational identity constructs, transnational ethnic configurations, and a deeper/more thorough consideration of epistemological and historical ties between disciplinary formation and U.S. imperialisms.

Definition:

  1. global fields of rhetorical action – the cyberspaces through which an element (images, words, texts, websites, etc.) circulates (Queen 474).
  2. Rhetorical genealogy: a process of examining digital texts not as artifacts of rhetorical productions, but, rather, as continually evolving rhetorical actions that are materially bound, actions whose transformation can be traced through the links embedded within multiple fields of circulation (Queen476).
  3. Women’s rights are often defined in neoliberal feminist discourses as “the ability to own land, manage property, conduct business or travel without their husband’s consent”
  4. Gender mainstreaming – efforts to scrutinize and reinvent process of policy formulation and implementation across all issue areas to address and rectify persistent and emerging disparities between men and women (Dingo 490)
  5. Transcode – how neoliberal logics travel along transnational networks gently shifting and changing to fit various situations while seemingly maintaining a common connotation (Dingo 492).
  6. Transnational rhetorical perspective – addresses how rhetorical concepts are shaped by cultural, social, and economic interconnectivities and interrelations and cross-border and cross-cultural mobilizations of power, language resources, and people (Hesford and Schell 465).  It also calls into question the ways in which intercultural communication practices are always already conditioned by complex legacies and histories of capital, power, nationalist discourses, and global interconnectivities.

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