August 23, 2012

Press Release

 Agenda feminist journal celebrates its 25th year in Women’s Month in August 2012 and is launching issue No 90 “Gender, sexuality and commodity culture” guest edited by Desiree Lewis and Mary Hames at an event on Tuesday August 28, 2012 that will be hosted by the African Gender Institute (University of Cape Town) at 6pm.

This issue of Agenda provides an important opportunity to seek new theoretical directions and possibilities for thinking about gender, sexuality and commodity culture in post-apartheid South Africa.

Within the rubric of gender, sexuality and capitalism, contributions fall into the broad categories of the media, photography and the internet, body politics, commodification of women’s political office, identity formation and masculinity in the context of clothing, alcohol and sport, and sexuality and identities.

Contributors to the issue include established scholars with long histories of research and writing (Carole Boyce Davies, Kopano Ratele, Jeanne Prinsloo), and relatively new entrants to publishing in the field of anthropology (Sakhumzi Mfecane, Kharnita Mohamed) gender studies (Clare Craighead) and electronic media (Tanya Bosch) and newer writers (Nicolette Ferreira, Michelle Mordaunt-Bexiga, Sivuyisiwe Ntombi Wonci). The voice of feminist activism is also in the foreground (Crystal Orderson, Mary Hames, Stefanie Roehrs). Also complimenting the scholarly contributions are film and book reviews (Nadia Sanger, Desiree Lewis). Finally the artistic work of the photographer Ingrid Masondo contributes an important visual dimension to the understandings and feminist debates in the issue and we have featured one of her images on the cover.

 Guest editors Desiree Lewis and Mary Hames write in the issue:

 The wave of feminist critiques of patriarchal capitalism has been and continues to be important in explaining the reproduction of patriarchal values, images and desires through commodity capitalism both in South Africa and elsewhere. However, more recent attention to gender, sexuality and commodity capitalism has focused on complex forms of power, resistance and subversion. Central to this shift is the theoretical work of scholars who deepen attention to the social construction of gender with their emphasis on dominant discourses and languages in shaping subjectivity, gender and sexuality. Within such work, the feminist theorist Judith Butler’s emphasis on performance (1993; 2004) has been especially important. It clearly signals that the focus of critical analytical work on gender and sexuality should be, not so much the ‘real’ bodies and identities of women and men, but the discursive and performative ways in which bodies and identities are enacted within a matrix of social institutions, relations and discourses.

As submissions to this issue demonstrate, performance and performativity have therefore been key to recent exploration of sexuality and gender under “millennial capitalism”. New interdisciplinary research from scholars in psychology, literary and cultural studies and anthropology as well as the artistic and creative work of photographers such as Ingrid Masondo, explore context-specific ways in which subjects navigate a bewildering array of commodity items, meanings and processes in order to perform, among other identifications, gender, race and class in ways that are either recognisable to others or that subvert what has been socially sanctioned. This emphasis, then, has led writers to deal not only with the subordination of social subjects within dominant discourses and practices of gender and sexuality, but also with how they intricately unsettle, subvert and confound dominant performances and meanings. The wealth and range of this theoretical preoccupation is well demonstrated in contributions to this issue.

For more information contact:

Lou Haysom (031) 304 7001/2

Visit agenda.org.za to learn more about Agenda and to download articles and journals