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Claudia Mitchell

This first issue of Girlhood Studies in 2015 heralds the beginning of our move from two to three issues a year. This change acknowledges the burgeoning interest in Girlhood Studies as an academic area, and the increase in submissions from contributors. It also acknowledges the global context for work on girlhood. Indeed, as part of this exciting time, we bring to the Girlhood Studies community the second in a series of themed issues focusing on girlhood in different geographic and political contexts. Thus, following “Nordic Girls’ Studies: Current Themes and Theoretical Approaches” (Girlhood Studies 6:1), and in collaboration with the guest editors of that issue, we present this special issue on “Girlhood Studies in Post-Socialist Times.” The mock-up in Figure 1 offers a transliteration of the logo on the cover of Girlhood Studies into Russian; it was created for the first Russian Girlhood Studies conference, “Girlhood Studies: Prospects and Setting an Agenda” held in Moscow on 7 December 2012 at the Gorbachev-Foundation. This conference was a momentous event, attended by Mr. Gorbachev himself, that brought together scholars from various Russian universities and institutions to consider what Girlhood Studies as an interdisciplinary area of feminist scholarship could look like. Many of the presentations at that conference are now articles in this themed issue.

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Claudia Mitchell

This Open Call issue of Girlhood Studies brings together a collection of articles from Canada, the US and Russia that address a range of themes of concern and interest to the study of contemporary girlhood. The issue opens with an article called “Little Girls on the Prairie and the Possibility of Subversive Reading” by Amy Singer as a way of signalling the importance of “differentiating between narratives that reinforce the status quo and narratives that challenge it.” As Singer points out, “a subversive story makes visible connections between social power and inequality.” Following this is Michael G. Cornelius’s “Sexuality, Interruption, and Nancy Drew.” In some of these stories, as Cornelius points out, we see a different kind of subversion of the status quo: “whenever the subject of marriage arises, Nancy interrupts the conversation or changes it altogether” so as to prevent any consideration of “marriage and the ensuing responsibilities (and identity shifts) that it—and mid-century womanhood in general—implies.”

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Claudia Mitchell

There is something rebellious about the work of Girlhood Studies so it is perhaps fitting that “Visual Disruptions” is the theme of this seventeenth issue of Girlhood Studies. The significance of 17 as an age in the life of girls and young women may vary, of course, across cultures, and, indeed, within contemporary popular culture in the West it is not necessarily seen as disruptive, as research on Seventeen magazine highlights. Nonetheless, we can think of the Janis Ian song from the 1970s, “At Seventeen,” and the many songs from The Beatles to the Sex Pistols that refer to girls being 17, and contemplate a state that is far from compliant in relation to conventional femininity. The articles in this themed issue of Girlhood Studies, guest-edited by Danai S. Mupotsa and Elina Oinas, offer a fascinating investigation into the politics of girlhood and visual culture, and the politics of disruption itself. The contributions are also a testament to the close alliance between feminism and visual studies.

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Claudia Mitchell

Although many of our articles over the years have established connections

between girls, girlhoods, and human rights, this issue of Girlhood Studies is

one of our first to locate explicitly the study of girls’ lives, in particular the

lives of girls with disabilities, within a framework of human rights.

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Claudia Mitchell

This issue of Girlhood Studies begins with a Special Section on Indigenous Girls as a critical area of scholarship and activism in girlhood studies. Recognizing the need for decolonizing perspectives and approaches, the guest editors, Kirstsen Lindquist, Kari-dawn Wuttunee, and Sarah Flicker offer a boundary-breaking collection. Apart from its being the first assemblage on Indigenous girls as far as we know, the Special Section is unique in several other ways. First, it is guest edited by an editorial team that includes two young Indigenous women, Kirsten and Kari-dawn, who are both members of the National Indigenous Young Women’s Council (NIYWC) and, as such, it draws on the strength of an organization of young Indigenous women. Second, it highlights the significance of community alliances as evidenced in the contributions of Sarah who has been working with Indigenous young people in Canada for over a decade. Third, acknowledging global solidarity amongst Indigenous peoples, as recognized, for example, in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,2 the collection includes submissions on Indigenous girls and girlhoods in Canada, South Africa, and Mexico. Finally, it is boundary-breaking in that it brings together different genres of writing and creative productions including articles, poetry, a personal essay, reviews (including one based on the contributor’s own familial oppression), an account of how and why a contributor set up a sexual health initiative, and a piece of Indigenous visual art, all of which support the endeavor of decolonizing knowledge in both theory and practice.

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Claudia Mitchell

young women that evokes more concern than the issue of ethics. For many members of university research ethics boards (REBs) the very term girls in the title of a project sets off alarm bells, and when the work is participatory and visual there is often a heightened concern in relation to what girls might be talking about, screening, photographing or drawing, There are, of course, good reasons why researchers need to be vigilant in seeking to do most good and least harm in all research involving human subjects. At the same time, however, this heightened concern about working with girls and young women should also cause us to reflect on what our vigilant attitude does and some of the potentially harmful outcomes some attitudes may have. For example, do we see girls as victims or agents? When? At what age? Under what circumstances? What harm might we do if we refuse to see that girls can be both?

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Claudia Mitchell

Now, in 2017, Girlhood Studies begins its tenth year. It is a tribute to our guest editors and contributors that we have been able to take on such a range of topics and concerns. Quantitatively, we have passed the one million mark in relation to the number of words about girlhood in the first twenty issues of the journal. The various guest editors have tackled such critical issues as critiques of girl power, girls and post-conflict, girls and health, girlhood studies and media, dolls and play, memory work methodologies in the study of girlhood, literary texts and girlhood, visual disruptions, girlhood and disabilities, Indigenous girlhoods, and ethical practices in girlhood studies.

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Claudia Mitchell

The idea of devoting a special issue of Girlhood Studies to what Jonathan Bock (2012) calls technologies of nonviolence comes at a critical time in girlhood studies. On the one hand, technology—especially digital technology— and various social media platforms are firmly entrenched in the everyday lives of many young people around the world. On the other, questions regarding who has access to technology and how technology is used and abused continue to dominate the fields of girlhood studies in particular and of youth studies more broadly.

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Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh

This is the first issue of Girlhood Studies that we have devoted primarily to method and methodology related to deepening an understanding of girlhood and girls’ lives. From the very inception of the journal in 2008 we imagined that there would be themed issues devoted to what we have termed “girl-method” (Mitchell and Reid-Walsh 2009: 214), so as to explore the various approaches to studying girlhood, and especially to make explicit the positionality of feminist researchers writing in academic contexts about girlhood. We frame this project as one that aims to be productive and generative and able to take its place alongside transformative themes in feminist methodology, as we see, for example, in the work of Burt and Code (1995) Changing Methods: Feminists Transforming Practice, and Creese and Frisby (2011) Feminist Community Research. However, even though there has been a rich body of work and a long history of research that addresses the nuances of women researching women, particularly in the area of the autobiographical such as, for example, Ann Oakley’s (1981) ground breaking article “Interviewing women: A contradiction in terms,” there remain gaps in feminist discourse that concerns itself with a framework to name and explicate method work that seeks to address working with girls, for girls and about girlhood. Making method, then, seems to us to be a useful framing term to talk about methodology and method in the area of girlhood studies. In one sense the term can signal the idea of making in relation to becoming as a feature of the social constructions of girlhood and the highly contextualized question of “Who is a girl anyway?” It also picks up on the idea of claiming and creating an identity as we see in Gerry Bloustien’s (2004) notion of girl-making in her work with adolescent girls and video-making. But it also speaks to the need for alternative approaches to making meaning, and so, as feminist researchers working in this area, we may find ourselves making it up, in much the same way that Oakley and others have done, and, in so doing, acknowledging the limitations of more conventional forms of working with qualitative data in social research.

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Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh

This special issue of Girlhood Studies is the first one to have been devoted to the study of girls living in a specific geographical region. Here we focus on girls in the Nordic countries. What makes this set of essays particularly fascinating is that they address issues concerning girls who are located in countries whose advanced social services and democratic beliefs and practices are admired around the world. The rest of the world believes that the Nordic countries, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Denmark, have achieved much of what girls in other countries in both the Global North and Global South are still working and fighting for. Interestingly, in their call for papers the guest editors Bodil Formark and Annelie Bränström Öhman, both located at Umeå University in Sweden, cite Finish sociologist Elina Oinas (2011) who queries whether Nordic girls do in fact belong to that exclusive group of “girls who won the lottery.” In the articles in this issue, the contributors interrogate some of the assumptions the rest of the world makes about the lives of girls living in Nordic countries, and the different notions of freedom that have an impact on them.