Feminisms in the World
by Susy Zepeda
In November 2014, I attended the National Women’s Studies Association conference, “Feminist Transgressions” in San Juan, Puerto Rico along with scholar-activists in the fields of women and gender studies, feminist studies, queer studies, and critical race studies. Critical discussions of transnational feminist methodology, a stellar plenary panel on “Imperial Politics,” and the reformulated practices of solidarity emerging through out the conference space made this gathering a particularly memorable one in terms of critical feminist history.
Perhaps the most vivid and relevant discussion to the current moment was an inspiring, yet extremely complicated and eye-opening discussion on the possibility of passing a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions resolution by NWSA members. There were several panels that offered space for critical discussion on the politics surrounding the underpinnings of this solidarity work, a key one being, “Solidarity Delegations to Palestine & Indigenous/Women of Color Feminists: Reflections, Impact and Assessment” featuring Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, Angela Davis, Gina Dent, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, and Barbara Ransby as former participants in solidarity delegations to Palestine. Briefly mentioned, yet illuminating, was the need for collaboration among social movements based in different geopolitical locations to be more connected due to implicating imperial logics—particularly highlighted were the cases of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, and the targeted arrest and imprisonment of Rasmea Odeh, associate director of Arab American Action Network (AAAN), who has since been released due to mass protest and organizing.
The plenary session titled, “The Imperial Politics of Nation-States: U.S., Israel, and Palestine,” featuring Chandra Talpade Mohanty as moderator, and Islah Jad, Rebecca Vilkomerson, and Angela Davis as panelists continued this critical discussion by involving over 2,000 NWSA members in the rethinking of critical feminist solidarity politics. It was perhaps Rebecca Vilkomerson, from the organization Jewish Voice for Peace, whose disruption of whiteness through her own life testimony and activism that gave new life to a much-needed discussion on revised racial and solidarity politics in this organization. She questioned accusations of anti-Semitism while asking: who can speak for Palestine? Angela Davis echoed these critiques by suggesting we methodologically pay attention to the “intersectionality of resistances” as we contemplate how police in Oakland are trained by Israeli military.
For a conference that has been widely critiqued for upholding white heteronormativity, and western-centered practices, among other injustices it was great to walk into a space with gender neutral restrooms that read: “Baños de Género Neutro.” This conference experience seems to be a reflection of changing energy and politics due to the leadership of radical women of color in the last decade or so in this feminist organizing space. The photo booths near the registration table were an ingenious part of this gathering to document the critical feminist gathering moments in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Theory and Activism
by Theresa Delgadillo
The NWSA Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico drew over 2,000 participants and presented a special opportunity to learn more about feminist movements in Puerto Rico, but it was also a conference schedule filled with panels, workshops, roundtables, and discussions on feminist research around the globe. As outgoing NWSA President Yi-Chun Tricia Lin wrote in her welcome letter to the event: “the conference endeavors to take up the histories, geographies, affective dimensions, and political stakes of various feminist insubordinations in the spaces they occupy: intellectual and institutional, local and global, public and intimate, by choice and under duress.” The focus on “transgressions,” therefore, was an invitation to participate in analyzing actions and interventions of multiple kinds and in varied sites. The number of panels focused on Chicana and Latina Studies research seemed higher this year than in previous years, and so the conference presented an opportunity for networking both within and across fields. I took full advantage and attended, among others, a panel retrospectively examining the significance of the work of Barbara Smith (a co-author of the Combahee River Collective’s statement), a panel of women from the Puerto Rican island of Vieques (for many years, used by the U.S. for bombing practice) who have shifted into activism around economic opportunity in light of development trends on the island, Latina scholars presenting research on queer arts activism in Puerto Rico and Latina media pioneers in the U.S., and Asian American scholars examining affective labor and human rights discourses within Asian diasporas. NWSA was a place to engage with rich and interrelated work. At the 2014 American Studies Association conference it was reported at the evening keynote address that one session on the “keywords” trend in critical studies had proposed the elimination of “intersectionality” from the keywords vocabulary. However, at the NWSA conference the influence of the contributions of women color to critical theory were recognized and rigorously engaged across disciplines, geographies, and fields.
 For the words “Rasmea Odeh” please link: http://www.thenation.com/article/188033/will-rasmeah-odeh-go-prison-because-confession-obtained-through-torture#
 for the words “mass protest and organizing” please link: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/15-powerful-ways-student-activists-stood-palestine-2014
 for the words, “Jewish Voice for Peace” please link: http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/
 Sandoval, Chela. (1990). “Feminism and Racism: A Report on the 1981 National Women’s Studies Association Conference.” Making Face, Making Soul: Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color. G. Anzaldúa. San Francisco, Aunt Lute.
 The 30th Annual NWSA Conference, “Difficult Dialogues,” with keynote speaker Angela Davis resonates this shift.
 Photos can be found the National Women’s Studies Association Facebook timeline. Also, available is the bell hooks keynote at: http://www.nwsa.org/