The problems with feminist nostalgia: Intersectionality and white popular feminism

European Journal of Women's Studies 28 (3):353-368 (2021)
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Abstract

Contemporary feminisms are ineluctably drawn into comparisons with historic discourses, forms of praxis and tactical repertoires. While this can underscore points of continuity and commonality in ongoing struggles, it can also result in nostalgia for a more unified and purposeful feminist politics. Kate Eichhorn argues that our interest in nostalgia should be to understand feminist temporalities, and in particular the specific context in which we experience such nostalgia. Accordingly, this article takes up the idea that neoliberalism and populism, which have given rise to both neoliberal feminism and femonationalism, have produced a series of contestations regarding the purpose and nature of feminist politics, as expressed by white popular feminism in the United Kingdom. This article examines two dimensions of feminist nostalgia: first, nostalgia for a more radical form of feminist politics – one not co-opted by neoliberal forces, not individualistic and not centred around online activism; and second, a nostalgia for the idea of ‘sisterhood’ – a time before white feminists were called upon to engage with intersectionality or be inclusive of trans-women. We analyse these themes through analysis of white popular feminism produced in the United Kingdom between 2010 and 2020, cautioning against a feminist nostalgia which neglects to engage with the radical politics of intersectionality.

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