Jul 20, 2005

"The role of female reproduction in the project of empire" [LINK]

Descriptive catalog text for Robin Truth Goodman's Infertilities: Exploring Fictions of Barren Bodies, published by the University of Minnesota Press. Maybe we shouldn't teach Darwin in schools after all...

An original analysis of the role of female reproduction in the project of empire.

In today's global market, ideas about family, femininity, and reproduction are traded on as actively as any currency or stock. The connection has a history, one rooted in a conception of feminine identities invented through a science interwoven with the pursuit of empire, the accumulation of goods, and the furtherance of power. It is this history that Robin Truth Goodman exposes in her provocative analysis of literary and political representations of female infertility from the mid-nineteenth century to our day.

Goodman takes Darwin's studies on sterility between species as her starting point, exploring evolutionary science as the intersection of a colonial worldview based on class struggle and the pathologizing of female identities that fall outside of reproductive normalcy. She then examines how Joseph Conrad constructs a vision of feminism as a product of miscegenation, how Alejo Carpentier and Mario Vargas Llosa deploy female figures of miscegenation to recast Latin American literature as "difference," and how ecological devastation in the Brazilian Amazon is envisioned through failures in Indian marriage. Locating points of conjunction between queer, feminist, and postcolonial theories, Infertilities points to the role of lesbian representation and reproductive politics in ongoing critiques of globalism.

And a description of Taking the Field: Women, Men, and Sports, by Michael A. Messner:
A hard-hitting look at the persistent inequities in women's sports participation.

In the past, when sport simply excluded girls, the equation of males with active athletic power and of females with weakness and passivity seemed to come easily, almost naturally. Now, however, with girls' and women's dramatic movement into sport, the process of exclusion has become a bit subtler, a bit more complicated—and yet, as Michael Messner shows us in this provocative book, no less effective. In Taking the Field, Messner argues that despite profound changes, the world of sport largely retains and continues its longtime conservative role in gender relations.

To explore the current paradoxes of gender in sport, Messner identifies and investigates three levels at which the "center" of sport is constructed: the day-to-day practices of sport participants, the structured rules and hierarchies of sport institutions, and the dominant symbols and belief systems transmitted by the major sports media. Using these insights, he analyzes a moment of gender construction in the lives of four- and five-year-old children at a soccer opening ceremony, the way men's violence is expressed through sport, the interplay of financial interests and dominant men's investment in maintaining the status quo in the face of recent challenges, and the cultural imagery at the core of sport, particularly televised sports. Through these examinations Messner lays bare the practices and ideas that buttress—as well as those that seek to disrupt-the masculine center of sport.

Taking the Field exposes the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which men and women collectively construct gender through their interactions—interactions contextualized in the institutions and symbols of sport.

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