Decolonizing Or Doing the Best With What We Have? Feminist University-Community Engagement Outside WGSS Programs
Keywords:Feminist community engagement, neoliberal university, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, service-learning, decolonizing
Feminist scholars and activists have a long history of integrating feminist praxis in the curriculum through community engagement initiatives. Using feminist critiques, they have investigated possibilities as well as limitations of these initiatives in neoliberal universities (Boyd & Sandell, 2012; Costa & Leong, 2012; Dean et al., 2019; Johnson & Luhmann, 2016; Kwon & Nguyen, 2016). Nevertheless, most of the existing studies focus on feminist community engagement within institutionalized Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) departments, programs, and courses. This article demonstrates how feminist community engagement can expand its scope outside the institutional boundaries of WGSS programs. It contributes to the existing feminist literature in several ways. First, it explores how feminist and decolonial praxis can manifest in a non-WGSS setting and the resulting challenges and possibilities that arise. Second, it argues that the transition from traditional service learning to feminist and decolonial community engagement is a complex, contentious, and iterative process rather than an end goal. Lastly, it elaborates on how faculty can not only avoid the tendency of “learning elsewhere” and framing the community as “unprivileged Other” but also build and organize with community through creative subversion of various structures of the neoliberal university.
Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands/ La Frontera: The new Mestiza. Aunt Lute Books.
Boyd, N. A., & Sandell, J. (2012). Unpaid and critically engaged: Feminist interns in the nonprofit industrial complex. Feminist Teacher, 22(3), 251–265. https://doi.org/10.5406/femteacher.22.3.0251
Brown, P. (2012). A nudge in the right direction? Towards a sociological engagement with libertarian paternalism. Social Policy and Society, 11(3), 305–317. https://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1474746412000061
Chatterjee, P., & Maira, S. (Eds.). (2014). The imperial university: Academic repression and scholarly dissent. University of Minnesota Press.
Chowdhury, E., & Philipose, L. (2016). Introduction. In E. Chowdhury & L. Philipose (Eds.), Dissident friendships: Feminism, imperialism, and transnational solidarity (pp. 1–7). University of Illinois Press.
Costa, L. M., & Leong, K. J. (2012). Introduction critical community engagement: Feminist pedagogy meets civic engagement. Feminist Teacher, 22(3), 171–180. https://doi.org/10.5406/femteacher.22.3.0171
Dean, A. (2019). Colonialism, neoliberalism, and university-community engagement: What sorts of encounters with difference are our institutions prioritizing? In A. Dean, J. L. Johnson, & S. Luhmann (Eds.), Feminist praxis revisited: Critical reflections on university-community engagement (pp. 23–37). Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Dean, A., Johnson, J. L., & Luhmann, S. (Eds.) (2019). Feminist praxis revisited: Critical reflections on university-community engagement. Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Francis, M. (2019). Interrogating feminist praxis inside the classroom: “Storying up” race, indigeneity, and alliance-building. In A. Dean, J. L. Johnson, & S. Luhmann (Eds.), Feminist praxis revisited: Critical reflections on university-community Engagement (pp. 131–146). Wilfrid Laurier University Press. https://muse.jhu.edu/book/63528
Froines, A. (2004). Institutionalization of women’s studies programs: The relationship of program structure to longterm viability [Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts Boston]. https://scholarworks.umb.edu/doctoral_dissertations/89
Gandhi, L. (2006). Affective communities: Anticolonial thought, fin-de-siècle radicalism, and the politics of friendship. Duke University Press.
Howe, F. (1975). Women and the power to change. McGraw Hill.
Hundle, A. K. (2019). Decolonizing diversity: The transnational politics of minority racial difference. Public Culture, 31(2), 289–322. https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-7286837
IRS. (n.d.). The restriction of political campaign intervention by section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/the-restriction-of-political-campaignintervention-by-section-501c3-tax-exempt-organizations
Johnson, J. L., & Luhmann, S. (2016). Social justice for (university) credit? The women’s and gender studies practicum in the neoliberal university. Resources for Feminist Research, 34(3/4), 40–59.
Klein, N. (2020, March 16). Coronavirus Capitalism—And How to Beat It. The Intercept. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=niwNTI9Nqd8&feature=emb_logo
Kwon, S. A., & Nguyen, M. T. (2016). Nonprofits, NGOs, and “community engagement”: Refiguring the project of activism in gender and women’s studies and ethnic studies. S&F Online, 13(2). http://sfonline.barnard.edu/navigating-neoliberalism-in-the-academy-nonprofits-and-beyond/soo-ah-kwonmimi-
Lesley University. (n.d.). Mission & History. https://lesley.edu/about/mission-history
Luhmann, S., Johnson, J. L., & Dean, A. (2019). Introduction: Learning elsewhere? Critical reflections on university-community engagement as feminist praxis. In A. Dean, J. L. Johnson, & S. Luhmann (Eds.), Feminist praxis revisited: Critical reflections on university-community engagement (pp. 1–22). Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Muzak, J. (2019). Feminist praxis and community service-learning in Canada’s changing non-profit sector. In A. Dean, J. L. Johnson, & S. Luhmann (Eds.), Feminist praxis revisited: Critical reflections on university-community
engagement (pp. 39–54). Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Nagar, R., & Swarr, A. L. (2010). Introduction: Transnational feminist praxis. In A. L. Swarr & R. Nagar (Eds.), Critical transnational feminist praxis (pp. 1–22). SUNY Press.
Real Food Challenge. (n.d.) Our History. https://www.realfoodchallenge.org/our-history/
Rodriguez, D. (2016). The political logic of the non-profit industrial complex. S&F Online, 13(2). http://sfonline.barnard.edu/navigating-neoliberalism-in-the-academy-nonprofits-and-beyond/dylanrodriguez-
Santiago-Ortiz, J. D. (2019). From critical to decolonizing service-learning: Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 25(1), 43–54. https://doi.org/10.3998/mjcsloa.3239521.0025.104
Srivasta, S. (2019). There’s more than one way to save a baby: Navigating activism and anti-racism. In A.
Dean, J. L. Johnson, & S. Luhmann (Eds.), Feminist praxis revisited: Critical reflections on university-community
engagement (pp. 55–72). Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Stoecker, R. (2016). Liberating service learning and the rest of higher education civic engagement. Temple University Press.
Sunstein, C. R., & Thaler, R. H. (2003). Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron. The University of Chicago Law Review, 70(4), 1159–1202. https://doi.org/10.2307/1600573
Taylor, J. (2019). Quick to the draw: Shooting from the hip in feminist NGOs. In A. Dean, J. L. Johnson, & S. Luhmann (Eds.), Feminist praxis revisited: Critical reflections on university-community engagement (pp. 105–114). Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
The Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation. (n.d.). The Bonner program: Access to education, opportunity to serve. http://www.bonner.org/the-bonner-program
Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1(1), 1–40.
Yep, K. S., & Mitchell, T. D. (2017). Decolonizing community engagement: Reimagining service learning through an ethnic studies lens. In C. Dolgon, T. D. Mitchell, & T. K. Eatman (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of service learning and community engagement. Cambridge University Press.
How to Cite
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0 that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter separate, additional contractual agreements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted to post their work online (e.g., in an institutional repository or on their website) after the publication of their work in the Engaged Scholar Journal.
- Please note that while every opportunity will be taken to ensure author participation in the editing process, due to time constraints final copyediting changes may be made before publication to ensure APA adherence throughout all submissions.