This Special Issue of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal represents another milestone in the history of the journal, coming, as it does, out of the second international conference of the International Girls’ Studies Association (IGSA) that was hosted by Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana, in 2019. As the guest editors, Angeletta Gourdine, Mary Celeste Kearney, and Shauna Pomerantz highlight in their introduction, the conference itself and the Special Issue set in motion the type of dialogue and conversation that is crucial to challenging and changing the world of inequities and disparities experienced by girls. For a relatively new area of study that has roots in feminism and social change, critical dialogue about inclusion and exclusion and about ongoing reflexivity and questioning must surely be at the heart of girls studies. The guest editors capture this admirably when they replace the question “What is girlhood studies?” with the provocative and generative question, “What can girlhood studies be?” The articles and book reviews in this Special Issue tackle what girls studies could be in so many different ways, ranging from broadening and deepening notions of intersectionality and interdisciplinarity to ensuring a place for the article, “Where are all the Girls and Indigenous People at IGSA@ND?” co-authored by the girls who belong to the Young Indigenous Women's Utopia group. Such an account offers a meta-analysis of the field of girlhood studies, but so did the call for the Special Issue as a whole. It is commendable that this team of co-editors assembled and curated a series of articles that reveal the very essence of the problematic that girlhood studies seeks to address.
An additional feature of this issue is its attention to the burgeoning body of new works on girlhood studies with four book reviews that address a range of concerns from the complexities of Black girlhood in different countries to Maasai girlhood and education in Kenya and from issues of age and sexual maturity in India to what is known as the Great Migration of Black people from the south to the north of the US. Doing research and publishing in girlhood studies stands as its own theoretical and practical area as is made clear in our decision to produce a Special Issue in 2022 on Teaching Girlhood Studies.
In July 2018, the co-editors of the first IGSA conference Special Issue hoped that it would “provoke crucial conversations and debates about girls’ cultures and girlhood on a global level as it celebrate[d] the diversity and creativity of girls’ cultures while making visible the systemic inequities that continue to perpetuate the risks to girls and maintain the precarious position of girls in the world.” This second IGSA Special Issue goes even further in the ways in which it presents itself as a declaration or what girls and young women in 2018 called a “girlfesto.” This naming took place at a transnational event held “to consider the role of community art-based activism by girls and young people in challenging gender-based violence, [particularly] … colonial systems of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada and South Africa” (Marnina Gonick et al. 2020: 1).
Gonick, Marnina, Claudia Mitchell, Catherine Vanner, and Anuradha Dugal. 2020. “We Want Freedom Not Just Safety: Biography of a Girlfesto as a Strategic Tool in Youth Activism.” YOUNG Nordic Journal of Youth Research 29 (2):101–118. https://doi.org/10.1177/110330882097598.
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