Current Call For Papers
Shifting Realities and Uses of “Care”
Feminist Anthropology seeks proposals for manuscripts on ‘care’ at its most capacious. Fisher and Tronto (1990) define care as “...everything that we do to maintain, continue and repair our ‘world’ so that we can live it as well as possible” (1990: 40). We view care not solely as a burden, but also as an avenue through which people maintain their human connections, make agentive decisions, and demonstrate their values.
Simultaneously, during and since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic a plethora of legislative moves to re/define medical, political, leisure, and educational care emerged. Anthropological considerations of how the body is fashioned by cultural, political, and historical processes (Diamond 1997) encourages us to also consider how this “care” can and has been weaponized through sociocultural institutions and practices to reduce access, self-determination, and autonomy for some while amassing more power for others. These cultural productions can constitute political and legislative violence on large national scales (Malkki 1995) as well as local ones (Burton 2000, Hlavka & Mulla 2021) through choices to refuse or enact political will (Petillo & Eggers 2021).
In such times, feminist ethical interventions can provide insight and pose challenges to liberalism/equality on global and local ideologies of care in the 21st century (Andrew, Keller, Schwartzman and Alcoff 2005). If feminist care practices can help build communities and solve problems from community care (Van Den Bergh 1995) to prioritizing mutual aid over charity (Spade 2020, Shepard 2015), what have we learned and redefined in recent years?
We seek manuscripts that explore how in its many forms (both beneficial and harmful), care falls unevenly across gender, race, ability, sexuality, and class lines, with the greatest burdens often falling on the most marginalized and under-resourced individuals globally. We are particularly interested in manuscripts that go beyond an individual lens and explore the role that states, markets, societies, and communities, as well as transnational and multilateral organizations, play in profiting from, giving, regulating and defining care. We also welcome manuscripts that engage with the uneven expectations placed on individuals, organizations, and states regarding what must be done “to maintain, continue and repair our ‘world’” in some uniform, normalized fashion, including the people in it.
McKearney and Amrith (2021) argue that care is “unequally distributed within and across societies, producing ambivalent and uncertain forms of intimacy and relatedness.” Meanwhile, Nguyen and Peschard (2003) have argued that “affliction must be understood as the embodiment of social hierarchy, a form of violence that for modern bodies is increasingly sublimated into differential disease rates and can be measured in terms of variances in morbidity and mortality between social groups” (447). All of this may shift according to how one engages with the state apparati charged with ensuring some standard levels of “care” (Cohen 1999). These inequitable expectations were especially highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring additional scrutiny regarding care practices in our post-crisis moment. That scrutiny now extends to political moves to ban specific words and concepts in classrooms across all levels, autonomous decision making about bodily needs, and access to leisure activities. As such, we invite manuscripts that engage with the following questions:
How was, and is, care commoditized or weaponized and for whose benefit?
What are the contemporary techno-utopian expectations of replacing human caregiving and are we meeting any in post-industrialized societies?
What are the emerging linguistic and discursive praxes of care? Where and how are these weaponized, if they are?
In what ways have people’s values and practices regarding care shifted as the result of the recent pandemic? How has this recent shift been different or the same as other shifts?
Was pandemic-related caregiving also stratified along the lines of race/ethnicity/caste, class, age, ability, sexuality, and gender, as has historically been the case?
How have concerns about bodily care shifted to restrictions and exclusions?
What appear to be the culturally sanctioned uses of politics and legislation to develop and/or reinforce normalization in the form of “care”?
When and how does care show up as violence or exclusion?
How was the need for care amplified by its absence during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when the nature of the virus required the exclusion of most forms of caring touch out of necessity for the greater public good and epidemic necessity?
How was care for those who’d perished in the pandemic and their kin made possible, especially when traditional funeral and mortuary rituals, such as public mourning, were impossible at best or created more illness and death at worst?
In what ways have people enacted their values through their COVID-19 related care practices?
How did people find new ways of enacting care as the result of the pandemic?
How have people found new ways of enacting violence through redefining “care” as the result of the pandemic?
Upload submissions via the journal’s Scholar One portal by November 30, 2023. Please address questions and inquiries to the journal’s co-editors at feminist.anthropology.journal[AT]gmail.com.
Andrew, Barbara S., Jean Clare Keller, Lisa H. Schwartzman, and Linda Martin Alcoff. Feminist Interventions in Ethics and Politics: Feminist Ethics and Social Theory. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005.
Shepard, Benjamin. Community Practice as Social Activism From Direct Action to Direct Services. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2015. ISBN 978-1-4833-0937-8. OCLC 962305465.
Burton, Barbara. “Brutality and Bureaucracy: Human Rights, Intimate Violence and the Role of Feminist Ethnography.” Political and Legal Anthropology Review 23, no. 1 (2000): 138–47. https://doi.org/10.1525/pol.2000.23.1.138.
Cohen, Ronald. “Human Rights and Cultural Relativism: The Need for a New Approach.” American Anthropologist 91, no. 4 (1989): 1014–17. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1989.91.4.02a00160.
Diamond,Jared. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.
Hlavka, Heather R. and Sameena Mulla. Bodies in Evidence: Race, Gender, and Science in Sexual Assault Adjudication. New York: New York University Press, 2021.
McKearney, Patrick, and Megha Amrith. “Care.” In The Open Encyclopedia of Anthropology, edited by Felix Stein. Facsimile of the first edition in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 2021. Online: http://doi.org/10.29164/21care.
Malkki, Liisa Helena. Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology Among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Nguyen, Vinh-Kim, and Karine Peschard. “Anthropology, Inequality, and Disease: A Review.” Annual Review of Anthropology 32, no. 1 (2003): 447–74. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.anthro.32.061002.093412.
Petillo, April and Jane Eggers “Rendered as Political Pawns: Chibok Girls, Ebola and the Exercise of Political Will.” In Negotiating Patriarchy and Gender in Africa, edited by Veronica F. Bruley and Uchendu Egodi, 273-288. Maryland: Lexington Books, 2021.
Spade, Dean. "Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Mobilization and Survival." Social Text. 38, no 1 (2020): 131–151. https://doi:10.1215/01642472-7971139.
Fisher, Berenice and Joan C. Tronto. “Toward a Feminist Theory of Caring.” In Circles of Care: Work and Identity in Women’s Lives, edited by Emily K. Abel and Margaret K. Nelson, 36-54. Albany, N.Y: SUNY Press, 1990.
Van Den Bergh, Nan. Feminist Practice in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: NASW Press, 1995.