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The Word in the World - Transnationalism and African/african Diasporic Women's Writing.

In this focus on African and African diasporic women's literature, the subtitle of transitions, transformations and transnationalism must be foregrounded and, even more subtly revised, for in the transnational we find issues of transitions and transformations. Transnationalism is an open signifier; it can denote diversity or sameness, contested sites or terrains, or their conjunctions, interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies and intellectual movements, and the international movements of peoples, ideas and things. In many ways, the term transnationalism functions like a cognate of the terms diaspora, internationalism, and globalization, or even an amalgam of all three. Transnationalism has also been correlated with modernity and postmodernism. It walks hand in hand with technology, the movement of global capitalism, neoliberalism, issues of environmental justice, and international policies of nation states. Like most theoretical constructs, its range and topoi shifts based on the field of inquiry of the writer or academic, not to mention the political stakes, which each and every individual intellectual must navigate at any given moment.

In thinking about this volume, questions that come to light are: how does transnationalism redefine aspects of feminist engagement, cultural forms, political causes, (hetero)patriarchal discourses and issues of sexuality and sexual difference? Conceptually, theoretically, and pragmatically, what is the potentiality and trajectory of the literary voices and creativity of African and African Diasporic women writers and artists in their trans-portation, transformation, incorporation, and dissemination as subjects within this movement, who authorize its formative constructs, indexical lens, and its range of permutations? Following the logic of such inquiries, transnationalism trajectory alongside postmodernity constitutes an important underlying rubric of the engagement with the articles in this edition. The two terms- transnational and postmodern, whether intersecting or clashing, depending on genre, area or era, acknowledge and emphasize a generative multiperspectivism to any given set of relations. As such, it behooves us to understand the multiple ranges of engagement that its discourse, creativity, and activism trigger.

Different theorists in different arenas of thought opine on transnationalism's differences. Leela Fernandes (2013) focuses on the genealogy of transnational feminism, and points out that that transnationalism allows for non-static racialized identity. It decenters Eurocentric worldviews and concepts of the nation and its sphere of domination (p. 182). Transnationalism within this definitional context is more about disidentification and remaking positionality. However, she also points to its temporal and spatial signification as it is about the new and the now as a more contemporary moment of globalization (p. 191). Nawal El-Saadawi (2000) provocatively calls transnationalism, "globalization from below," in how it allows for mobilization by peoples struggling against globalizations top down, economic and political agendas, to "work and to fight and to struggle for justice, freedom..." (Meridians, 2000, pp. 14-15). More concretely, Amrita Basu (2000) highlights the imbrication of transnationalism and technology in pointing out that such activism across borders cannot exist without these new forms of technological linkages (Meridians, 2000, p. 13). Laura Briggs, Gladys McCormick, and J.T. Way (2008) conversely historicize transnationalism and link it "to genealogies of antiimperial and decolonizing thought, ranging from anticolonial Marxism to subaltern studies to Third World feminism and feminisms of color" (p. 628).

I must insert a contention in how within feminist theorizing of difference, as African and Diasporic women, we have allowed ourselves to become part of the lumpen proletariat in accepting denunciatory categories like "the other," or reductive collectivistic distances by terminologies like Third World feminism, feminisms of color, Global South feminisms, or women of color....

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Sterling, Cheryl, Wagadu: a Journal of Transnational Women's and Gender Studies
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Author:Sterling, Cheryl
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Dec 22, 2017
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