A Journey into Women’s Studies: Crossing Interdisciplinary by Rekha Pande (eds.)

By Rekha Pande (eds.)

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Additional info for A Journey into Women’s Studies: Crossing Interdisciplinary Boundaries

Sample text

Women provided all the physical labor but the end product was sold by the men. Cocoons were unwound or “reeled” by hand by women in the family, to produce filaments of raw silk – the basic component of silk thread – at home, dipping their hands in very hot water, but the product was sold at auction by the men. We persuaded the silk board to provide space for women in the auction center. When we did a collaborative project entitled “Women’s Work and Family Strategies” with 34 Crossing Interdisciplinary Boundaries many other centers, it was once again obvious how opportunities for economic improvement were always seized by the men who migrated, while women continued the family’s subsistence farming or did traditional crafts with old technology.

How has knowledge of women’s lives been kept so well hidden, even from those girls and women whom one might expect to have had the best chance of gaining that knowledge? Students who come into an “Intro to women’s studies” class never having heard of Virginia Woolf or knowing nothing of women’s roles in the Chinese, Mexican or Algerian revolutions are not empty-headed. Remembering my own ignorance, I realize that they are products of a concerted patriarchal effort to make women’s lives appear – even to women themselves – trivial, irrelevant and boring.

That vision was thrilling, but it also made me worry. If Ethnic Soldiers were coming out in a Penguin paperback, I would have to learn how to write accessibly; I couldn’t hide behind arcane “insider” academic language. In fact, I would have to apply the lessons I was learning about how to teach effectively to my writing. My sense of myself as a teacher and as a writer could not be split into two. Women friends in London soon thereafter started drawing me into the exciting new circles of feminist research and activism.

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