Power Lines

On the Subject of Feminist Alliances

Power Lines

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: Published: September 2008

Activism, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Race and Indigeneity

Like the complex systems of man-made power lines that transmit electricity and connect people and places, feminist alliances are elaborate networks that have the potential to provide access to institutional power and to transform relations. In Power Lines, Aimee Carrillo Rowe explores the formation and transformative possibilities of transracial feminist alliances. She draws on her conversations with twenty-eight self-defined academic feminists, who reflect on their academic careers, alliances, feminist struggles, and identifications. Based on those conversations and her own experiences as an Anglo-Chicana queer feminist researcher, Carrillo Rowe investigates when and under what conditions transracial feminist alliances in academia work or fail, and how close attention to their formation provides the theoretical and political groundwork for a collective vision of subjectivity.

Combining theory, criticism, and narrative nonfiction, Carrillo Rowe develops a politics of relation that encourages the formation of feminist alliances across racial and other boundaries within academia. Such a politics of relation is founded on her belief that our subjectivities emerge in community; our affective investments inform and even create our political investments. Thus experience, consciousness, and agency must be understood as coalitional rather than individual endeavors. Carrillo Rowe’s conversations with academic feminists reveal that women who restrict their primary allies to women of their same race tend to have limited notions of feminism, whereas women who build transracial alliances cultivate more nuanced, intersectional, and politically transformative feminisms. For Carrillo Rowe, the institutionalization of feminism is not so much an achievement as an ongoing relational process. In Power Lines, she offers a set of critical, practical, and theoretical tools for building and maintaining transracial feminist alliances.


Power Lines breaks new methodological and theoretical ground, offers new political vision, and encourages all of us to be longing for a feminism we can stand for.” — Karma R. Chávez, Quarterly Journal of Speech

“[Carrillo Rowe] offers a set of critical, practical, and theoretical tools for building and maintaining transracial feminist alliances.” — Frauensolidarität

“Aimee Carrillo Rowe’s book Power Lines is a must read. It offers provocative and forward-moving insights into the failures and possibilities of multiracial alliances. . . . Power Lines is a deeply provocative book that shifts the terms used to assess the past as well as future of women’s studies.” — Ann Russo, NWSA Journal

“Carrillo Rowe smartly illustrates how identity inflects not only one’s relationships to power, privilege, and peers, but the very way one conceptualizes these relationships. Carrillo Rowe weaves her observations about herself and her interviewees into a provocative and theoretically informed volume. . . . Power Lines is essential reading for anyone hoping to create an academic feminism that is more inclusive of all women.” — On Campus with Women

“This examination of race, class, academic feminist theory, and transracial partnerships will inform the future of disciplines ranging from rhetoric to social work. Using philosophy and feminist theory, this complex analysis will inspire the apathetic and cynical to reexamine the value of academic feminism.” — Brittany Shoot, Feminist Review Blog

“For twenty years, those of us who came of age through multiracial feminism and teach feminist studies have been talking about alliance building as key to liberation struggles. Yet time and again, I have heard students understandably ask what alliances look like, how they can be part of them, and how they will know whether the alliances are working. With theory that is both nuanced and sophisticated, relevant and provocative, Aimee Carrillo Rowe gives us answers to these questions.” — Becky Thompson, author of A Promise and a Way of Life: White Antiracist Activism


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Aimee Carrillo Rowe is Associate Professor in the Rhetoric Department and the Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry program at the University of Iowa.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Preface: Color in My Lines xi

Introduction: On the Subject of Feminist Alliances 1

1. Be Longing: Toward a Feminist Politics of Relation 25

2. Bridge Inscriptions: Toward a Methodology of Feminist Alliances 47

3. "Women" on the Inside: Whiteness, Heterosociality, and the Subject of Feminist Alliances 93

4. Zero-Sum Feminism: On the Interface between "Feminism" and "Alliances" 129

5. Power Lines: Toward a Feminism of Radical Belonging 179

Epilogue: Pilgrimage 199

Appendix A: Solicitation Letter 201

Appendix B: Interview Questions 202

Notes 205

Works Cited 227

Index 243
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4317-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4301-1
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