Cloth $27.50 ISBN: 9780226754093 Published November 2020 Not for sale in Europe or the British Commonwealth
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A Global History

Lucy Delap


Lucy Delap

256 pages | 20 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2020
Cloth $27.50 ISBN: 9780226754093 Published November 2020 Not for sale in Europe or the British Commonwealth
E-book $26.99 About E-books ISBN: 9780226754123 Published November 2020 Not for sale in Europe or the British Commonwealth
Feminism’s origins have often been framed around a limited cast of mostly white and educated foremothers, but the truth is that feminism has been and continues to be a global movement. For centuries, women from all walks of life have been mobilizing for gender justice. As the last decade has reminded even the most powerful women, there is nothing “post-feminist” about our world. And there is much to be learned from the passion and protests of the past.

Historian Lucy Delap looks to the global past to give us a usable history of the movement against gender injustice—one that can help clarify questions of feminist strategy, priority and focus in the contemporary moment. Rooted in recent innovative histories, the book incorporates alternative starting points and new thinkers, challenging the presumed priority of European feminists and ranging across a global terrain of revolutions, religions, empires and anti-colonial struggles.

In Feminisms, we find familiar stories—of suffrage, of solidarity, of protest—yet there is no assumption that feminism looks the same in each place or time. Instead, Delap explores a central paradox: feminists have demanded inclusion but have persistently practiced their own exclusions. Some voices are heard and others are routinely muted. In amplifying the voices of figures at the grassroots level, Delap shows us how a rich relationship to the feminist past can help inform its future.

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1 

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Conclusion: Global Feminisms

Further Reading

Review Quotes
Jana Byars | New Books in Gender Studies
"This outstanding work . . . takes a thematic approach to the topic of global feminist history to provide a unified vision that maintains appropriate nuance. . . . It's masterful."
History Today, Books of the Year 2020
"Magisterial. . . . Brilliantly surveys three centuries of activism across multiple continents."
LSE Review of Books
"Delap offers a new and wide-ranging account of the global history of feminisms, drawing on an innovative range of sources to explore the rich, diverse and radical roots of feminist movements across time and space. Addressing the powerful contributions of feminisms while also examining their limitations, exclusions and complicities, this book is a triumph of feminist historiography that shows the innumerable different ways of imagining women’s freedom around the world. . . . We are taken on a journey that includes figures and events that would not have been classified as feminist at the time of their occurrence, stretching from colonial West Africa to Imperial Japan, and through an innovative use of source material ranging from political pamphlets to zines and songs. . . . In its interconnected narrative, [her book is] a powerful political argument about what feminism is (or should be). And indeed, as her title reminds us, feminism has never just been one thing. There were, and remain, innumerable different ways of imagining women’s freedom around the world. Far too many to be reduced to a slogan on a t-shirt."
This Is Hell!
"The big, global story of the many feminisms on our planet today. . . . This is a fantastic book [that] everyone should go check out. . . . Even feminists I know who have been studying feminism for a very long time would get a lot out of this book. This really is an incredible work."
Journal of International Women's Studies
"Delap recognizes the feminists who were lost in the relaying of the history of the women’s movement or who were prevented from joining it in the first place. . . . Feminisms provides insight into the concept itself and provides the opportunity to address the complexity of the feminist movement, the fragmentation within feminism attributable to its visibly western-centric perspective, and the experiences of forgotten and ignored feminists. The book adds to the discourse on social construction and highlights the significance of inclusion and the corresponding bias that results with the adoption of a single perspective. Outside of the discussion of feminism, Delap’s thematic approach is a reminder that there are more voices than the ones being heard; this is a lesson in itself."
"A sweeping challenge to feminist histories . . . . It provides a nuanced account that recognizes feminism's deep fragmentations as well as its racial, gendered, and classed hierarchies. . . . The book's main contribution to critical global and transnational feminist histories is that it unearths patterns of feminism in creative, often unexpected ways. . . . Feminisms successfully disrupts the existing historiography. Ultimately, Delap's thematic, non-chronological approach to feminisms opens up creative new starting points for further research and exploration."
Hyaeweol Choi, author of Gender Politics at Home and Abroad: Protestant Modernity in Colonial-Era Korea
"A brilliant work of feminist scholarship that is global in scope, rigorous in analysis, and inviting in its storytelling."
Bonnie G. Smith, Board of Governors Distinguished Professor Emerita of History, Rutgers University
"Delap's telling is unique amongst histories of feminism. As it tears across the globe, Feminisms reveals familiar organizations, projects, agitators, and obstacles in new garb and places them alongside ones conventionally overlooked. Start with any chapter and savor every generous, undogmatic page."
Hannah Dawson, King's College London
"This is an extraordinary and beautiful history of the global struggles against the injustices of gender. It brings the battles of feminists to life, not only through their ideas and campaigns, but also their dreams, songs, anger, and the material dimensions of their activism—their bloomers, badges, and veils, their refuges, workplaces, and borderlands."
Nancy A. Hewitt, author of Radical Friend: Amy Kirby Post and Her Activist Worlds
"Delap wields the concept of feminism to show how activists 'politicize the injustices of gender' across 250 years and six continents. Attentive to the blind spots and complicities of many feminist ventures, she also recognizes its affinities and resonance across generations, geographies, and genders. This brilliant book probes feminism's meanings and materializations through chapters on dreams, feelings, objects, and songs as well as ideas, looks, spaces, and actions."
Carla Jones, University of Colorado Boulder
“Delap provides a concise but thorough history of the variety of feminist movements that have formed over the last century, bringing a sense of shared vision and voice to a diverse history without forcing a false unity.”
Lucy Delap’s Feminisms: A Global History… presents a sweeping challenge to feminist histories that draw only on “a limited cast of mostly white and educated foremothers” (p. 15). By contrast, Feminisms explores campaigns against gender injustice “across a global canvas, spanning 250 years” (p. 26). To this end, Delap draws on recent scholarship in the field to cover an impressive width of case studies, ranging from women’s activism during Japan’s Meiji period (pp. 227–229) to Filipina campaigns for suffrage after the First World War (pp. 181–183), the 1929 women-led protests against British colonial taxation policies in Nigeria (pp.117–123), and feminist transnational encounters across Latin America and the Caribbean during the 1980s (pp. 256–7). In so doing, Delap suggests new historical starting points that move beyond the ‘wave analogy’ that has long been used to periodize feminist history, and brings in new actors, sites, and networks.
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