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Storytelling and co-authorship in feminist alliance work: reflections from a journey

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If all writing is fundamentally tied to the production of meanings and texts, then feminist research that blurs the borders of academia and activism is necessarily about the labor and politics of mobilizing experience for particular ends. Co-authoring stories is a chief tool by which feminists working in alliances across borders mobilize experience to write against relations of power that produce social violence, and to imagine and enact their own visions and ethics of social change. Such work demands a serious engagement with the complexities of identity, representation, and political imagination as well as a rethinking of the assumptions and possibilities associated with engagement and expertise. This article draws upon 16 years of partnership with activists in India and with academic co-authors in the USA to reflect on how storytelling across social, geographical, and institutional borders can enhance critical engagement with questions of violence and struggles for social change, while also troubling dominant discourses and methodologies inside and outside of the academy. In offering five ‘truths’ about co-authoring stories through alliance work, it reflects on the labor process, assumptions, possibilities, and risks associated with co-authorship as a tool for mobilizing intellectual spaces in which stories from multiple locations in an alliance can speak with one another and evolve into more nuanced critical interventions.
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Keywords: accountability; alliance work; co-authorship; coautoría; confianza; narración de cuentos; responsabilidad; storytelling; trabajo en alianza; trust; truth; verdad

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies,University of Minnesota, Twin Cities,MN,55455, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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