Polywog

November 22, 2007

re-membering

Filed under: anarchism,free love/ radical love,women's history — polywog @ 11:13 p11

The misconceptions described below call for a remembering of free love history. A deeper look at free love’s history will reveal its contribution to feminism and radical political praxis. Free love history contributes substantive insights to current trends in polyamory and free love, radical intellectual history, and feminism and anarchism in America.

My interest in free love history includes a three-fold desire to understand the movement in terms of the politics of location (place, gender, and ideology). Mohanty defines the politics of location as “the historical, geographical, cultural, psychic, and imaginative boundaries that provide the ground for political definition and self-definition for contemporary U.S. feminists” (Feminism without Borders, 106). In her own work, Mohanty asks how the politics of location “determine and produce experience and difference as analytical and political categories” (106). In my work, I am interested in how the politics of location determined and produced free love thought.  Thus, in my readings of nineteenth century free love histories (written between 1977 and 2005) I have considered the politics of location generally, with an interest in historians’ varying considerations of gender, place, and ideology, and i have considered the politics of location specifically, with a desire to locate the experiences of anarchist free love advocates in the Pacific Northwest within the larger movement.

Taken together, the histories of free love in America and the histories of free love in the Pacific Northwest pose some interesting questions about gender: how closely were feminism and free love related? What amount of agency did women have in creating and effecting free love discourse? How do historians’ choices affect the way we remember women in the history of free love?

The juxtaposition of regionally and nationally oriented scholarship on free love creates a tension around the politics of physical location—the development and movement of knowledge through space. How does regionalism affect knowledge and experience? How does knowledge move through space, inter- and intra-regionally? How do historians deal with this relationship between place and politics? Do historians see differences in rural and urban free love discourse, or between Northwest, Midwest, and Northeast free love discourse? What are the repercussions of historical and geographical generalizations?

My interest in 19th century free love comes from a curiosity about incipient forms of anarcha-feminism and historical discourses on the radicalization of the private sphere (love, intimate relations, family, the home, etc). Anarcha-feminism is not simply women doing anarchism, and neither is it anarchism doing women’s rights. Free love has historically been a site of intersection between anarchism and feminism and is a part of an important intellectual lineage of anti-authoritarian theory and practice. I am interested in how the link between critiques of intrusive male dominance and intrusive state dominance have been connected at the site of free love, and how historians have made sense of this connection.

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1 Comment »

  1. Wow. I can’t tell whether your term paper is written this cleanly and concisely and I just didn’t read it with a sharp mind, or whether you just hit the nail on the head when you wrote this on your blog. Either way I love what you are saying here, and I think that it is a great place to refer back to as you write your paper.

    Yes, there is definitely a link between intrusive male dominance and intrusive state dominance. Not the least of which is that intrusive males generally control intrusive states, glorify the holding of power and the submission of those without power

    Comment by Eug — December 6, 2007 @ 11:13 p12 | Reply


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