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
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.
This issue of Girlhood Studies begins with a Special Section on Indigenous Girls as a critical area of scholarship and activism in girlhood studies. 1 Recognizing the need for decolonizing perspectives and approaches, the guest editors, Kirstsen
Recently global attention has been directed to the situations of girls and boys with disabilities, yet research tells us little about the experiences and perspectives of girls with disabilities except that their lives are filled with barriers, violence and stigma. I explore how girlhood studies can authentically include girls with disabilities. Drawing on feminist disability studies, I argue that we can use intersectional theory to identify and include the experiences of girls with disabilities, and explore diverse embodiments of girlhood. In doing this we can remove the trump card of disability and see disabled girls as an integral part of girlhood and girlhood studies.
Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh
We take the title of our editorial introduction to this themed issue of Girlhood Studies from Sandrina de Finney’s lead article in which she explores “alternative conceptualizations of trauma, place, and girlhood that might enact a more critical, politicized girlhood studies.” Contributions to this issue offer what the guest editors refer to as a re-description of girls in crisis. In so doing not only do they offer challenges to definitions of crisis, they also deepen our understanding of what transformative practices might look like. From a consideration of Indigenous girlhood in Canada to a study of country girls in Australia, from work on YouTube to Holloback! and other social media platforms to girls’ digital representations of their own safety, and from changes in newspaper discourse about murdered girls to a consideration of work done with incarcerated girls, we are invited to re-think this notion of girls-in-crisis, and its significance.
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.
This Special Issue of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal highlights a unique moment in history in two ways. First, it offers a collection of articles based on presentations made at the inaugural International Girls Studies Association
. Unable to do justice to the comprehensive issues in this book, I will foreground, instead, arguments that are in keeping with the theme of this special issue of Girlhood Studies . The central locus of this book is India (Ghai’s home country) and it is in
In this article I analyze fiction and non-fiction using the critical lens or methodology of Girlhood Studies. I re-examine my published writing on Irish writer Mary Beckett and Irish-American author Lucy Grealy to demonstrate how feminist scholars can read differently. I argue that in my initial readings of the aforementioned texts I neglected the girl in the story, because I was concerned about the woman the female character would become. Finally, I also argue that feminist scholars should mine their own childhood experiences for insight into the study of girls. I provide an excerpt from my memoir in progress to demonstrate how this might be accomplished.
An Interdisciplinary Journal (GHS)
Claudia Mitchell, Jacqueline Reid-Walsh, and Jackie Kirk
It is a moment of collective memory work. The three of us—Claudia, Jacqui and Jackie—try to remember when and where the idea for a Girlhood Studies journal came from in the first place. We think that probably the precise moment (or event) was the “A New Girl Order: Young Women and the Future of Feminist Inquiry” Conference convened by Anita Harris and colleagues at Monash University and held at King’s College, London, from November 14 to 16 2001. Although we had individually attended conferences related to girls and girlhood, it was for the three of us the first time that we had been to an event that focused on girlhood in ways that went beyond disciplinary boundaries of, say, girls in science or girls in development. There was something quite different emerging—a new area that combined advocacy, interdisciplinarity, and of course the voices of girls themselves—and it somehow gave a new imperative to exploring girlhood in all its possible manifestations. That was 2001 and now it is 2008. It has taken us seven years to make Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal a reality with this inaugural issue. Now we try to remember why it took us so long, or what it was that gave us the kickstart to finally do it!