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Claudia Mitchell

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Where to from Here?

Emerging Conversations on Girls’ Literature and Girlhood

Dawn Sardella-Ayres and Ashley N. Reese

Abstract

In this article, we seek to articulate a genre theory-centered definition of girls’ literature, and interrogate its subgenre, the girl's bildungsroman, as contextual, cultural sites of rhetoric regarding girls and girlhood. By exploring English-language North American girls’ literature, we identify it within a framework of genre as social action, tracing the protagonists’ maturation into the socially determined roles of wife and mother. We explore the ways in which the girl's bildungsroman follows a home-away-home model, but with the end result of socially acceptable community integration, rather than the boy's bildungsroman's culmination in heroic independent identity via quests and adventures.

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Beyond the Body Count

Field Notes as First Responder Witness Accounts

Patricia Krueger-Henney

I position critical ethnographic researcher field notes as an opportunity to document the physical and ideological violence that white settler states and institutions on the school-prison nexus inflict on the lives of girls of color generally and Black girls specifically. By drawing on my own field notes, I argue that critical social science researchers have an ethical duty to move their inquiries beyond conventions of settler colonial empirical science when they are wanting to create knowledges that transcend traditions of body counts and classification systems of human lives. As first responders to the social emergencies in girls’ lives, researchers can make palpable spatialization of institutionalized forms of settler epistemologies to convey more girl-centered ways of speaking against quantifiable hierarchies of human life.

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BlackGirl Geography

A (Re)Mapping Guide towards Harriet Tubman and Beyond

Loren S. Cahill

Blackgirls have a long subaltern legacy of being geographers. We have complicated the settler-colonial project of cartography uniquely through our radical placemaking efforts towards achieving safety, inclusion, and liberation. In this autoethnographic article, I trace my own socio-spatial-sensory reflections that I experienced during my visit to Harriet Tubman’s Homeplace, Senior Home, and Grave Site in Auburn, New York. I attempt to unsettle the undertheorized renderings of Tubman by interrogating her personal freedom dreams, liberation geography, and womanist cartography. I then map the intergenerational solidarity that Blackgirls have forged with Tubman more contemporarily through their own space making. I conclude by unpacking what ontological lessons both knowledge producers and organizers can glean from Tubman’s geographic sacredness and savvy.

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Claudia Mitchell

The concerns addressed by the authors in this issue point to the need for a reimagining of girlhood as it is currently framed by settler and carceral states. To quote the guest editors, Sandrina de Finney, Patricia Krueger-Henney, and Lena Palacios, “The very notions of girl and girlhood are embedded in a colonial privileging of white, cis-heteropatriarchal, ableist constructs of femininity bolstered by Euro-Western theories of normative child development that were—and still are—violently imposed on othered, non-white girls, queer, and gender-nonconforming bodies.” Indigenous-led initiatives in Canada, such as the Networks for Change: Girl-led ‘from the Ground up’ Policy-making to Address Sexual Violence in Canada and South Africa project, highlighted in four of the eight articles in this issue, along with the insights and recommendations offered in the articles that deal with the various positionalities and contexts of Latinx and Black girls, can be described as creating a new trail. In using the term trail, here, I am guided by the voices of the Indigenous researchers, activists, elders, and community scholars who participated in the conference called More Than Words in Addressing Sexual and Gender-based Violence: A Dialogue on the Impact of Indigenous-focused, Youthled Engagement Through the Arts on Families and Communities held in Montreal. Their use of the term trail suggests a new order, one that is balanced between the ancestors and spiritual teachings on the one hand, and contemporary spaces that need to be decolonized on the other with this initiative being guided by intergenerationality and a constant interrogation of language. The guest editors of this special issue and all the contributors have gone a long way on this newly named trail.

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Imagining Alternative Spaces

<em>Re-searching</em> Sexualized Violence with Indigenous Girls in Canada

Anna Chadwick

“Sisters Rising” is an Indigenous-led, community-based research study focused on Indigenous teachings related to sovereignty and gender wellbeing. In this article, I reflect on the outcomes of re-searching sexualized violence with Indigenous girls involved with “Sisters Rising” in remote communities in northern British Columbia, Canada. Through an emergent methodology that draws from Indigenous and borderland feminisms to conduct arts- and land-based workshops with girls and community members, I seek to unsettle my relationships to the communities with which I work, and the land on which I work. I look to arts-based methods and witnessing to disrupt traditional hegemonic discourses of settler colonialism. I reflect on how (re)storying spaces requires witnessing that incorporates (self-)critical engagement that destabilizes certainty. This position is a critical space in which to unsettle conceptual and physical geographies and envision alternative spaces where Indigenous girls are seen and heard with dignity and respect.

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Love as Resistance

Exploring Conceptualizations of Decolonial Love in Settler States

Shantelle Moreno

In this article, I weave together connections between notions of decoloniality and love while considering implications for decolonial praxis by racialized people settled on Indigenous lands. Through a community-based research project exploring land and body sovereignty in settler contexts, I engaged with Indigenous and racialized girls, young women, 2-Spirit, and queer-identified young adults to create artwork and land-based expressions of resistance, resurgence, and wellbeing focusing on decolonial love. Building on literature from Indigenous, decolonizing, feminist, and post-colonial studies, I unpack the ways in which decolonial love is constructed and engaged in by young Indigenous and racialized people as they navigate experiences of racism, sexism, cultural assimilation, and other intersecting forms of marginalization inherent in colonial rule. I uphold these diverse perspectives as integral components in developing more nuanced and situated understandings of the power of decolonial love in the everyday lives of Indigenous and racialized young peoples and communities.

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Pathologizing Latinas

Racialized Girlhood, Behavioral Diagnosis, and California's Foster Care System

Isabella C. Restrepo

Scholars of the welfare system have explored the racialized criminalization of mothers of color who are punished by the foster care system, through control of their children, when they are unable to meet the ideals of middle-class motherhood but have yet to fully articulate a language to understand the ways in which this criminalization and punishment extends to youth once they are placed in the foster care system. Using ethnographic interviews with agents of the care system, I explore the ways in which the system pathologizes Latinas’ quotidian acts of resistance and survival like their use of silences through the behavioral diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). I argue that California’s foster care system is an arm of the transcarceral continuum, marking girls of color and their strategies of resistance as pathological, thereby criminalizing them through the diagnosis of behavioral disorders.

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Red Ribbon Skirts and Cultural Resurgence

Kimihko sîmpân iskwêwisâkaya êkwa sihcikêwin waniskâpicikêwin

Kari Dawn Wuttunee, Jennifer Altenberg, and Sarah Flicker

A small group of Indigenous girls and their allies came together to make ribbon skirts to reclaim teachings, resist gender-based and colonial violence, and re-imagine our collective futures. Based on the personal reflections of the organizers and the girls involved gathered through individual semi-structured interviews and directed journal writing, we share lessons about the process and outcomes. Learning about the historical and cultural significance of ribbon skirts gave these girls a stronger connection to their culture, community, and each other. Wearing their ribbon skirts became an embodied act of resistance to violence in promoting resilience and self-determination. This case study illustrates how Indigenous girls and their allies can engage in resurgence practices to challenge gender-based violence through reclaiming and adapting cultural teachings and practices.

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Sandrina de Finney, Patricia Krueger-Henney, and Lena Palacios

We are deeply honored to have been given the opportunity to edit this special issue of Girlhood Studies, given that it is dedicated to rethinking girlhood in the context of the adaptive, always-evolving conditions of white settler regimes. The contributions to this issue address the need to theorize girlhood—and critiques of girlhood—across the shifting forces of subjecthood, community, land, nation, and borders in the Western settler states of North America. As white settler states, Canada and the United States are predicated on the ongoing spatial colonial occupation of Indigenous homelands. In settler states, as Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang remind us, “the settler never left” (2012: 20) and colonial domination is reasserted every day of active occupation. White settler colonialism functions through the continued control of land, resources, and racialized bodies, and is amalgamated through a historical commitment to slavery, genocide, and the extermination of Indigenous nationhood and worldviews. Under settler colonial regimes, criminal justice, education, immigration, and child welfare systems represent overlapping sites of transcarceral power that amplify intersecting racialized, gendered, sexualized, and what Tanja Aho and colleagues call “carceral ableist” violence (2017: 291). This transcarceral power is enacted through institutional and bureaucratic warfare such as, for example, the Indian Act, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the child welfare system to deny, strategically, Indigenous claims to land and the citizenship of racial others.