Loving Criticism: A Spiritual Philosophy of Social Change

Feminist Studies 38 (2):444-473 (2012)

Sharon Doetsch-Kidder
George Mason University
This essay examines antiracist feminist writing and activist oral histories, finding in these scholars' and organizers' attention to the role of spirit in their work an approach it names “loving criticism.” Loving criticism seeks knowledge that does something besides expose the truth of oppression. It seeks to amplify kindness, creativity, love, and joy wherever it can find it, so that the critic, activist, and the world can draw on these resources. Love leads us to bring old knowledges into our work and to find common ground with those whom we protest and criticize. Through loving criticism, we look for and encourage the best in others and ourselves, trusting that nourishing our creative parts is intrinsically good. Love helps us find alternatives to oppositional thinking and violence so that we can create deep, lasting change.
Keywords intersectionality  activism  criticism  feminism  spirituality  social change  reparative criticism  paranoid criticism  queer theory  love
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