Questions of agency and alliance have become central to feminist theories, and yet, neither agency nor alliance has proven easy to theorize or to enact. Working Alliances and the Politics of Difference suggests that these questions have proven so difficult for feminist and other progressive social movements because the contemporary politics of difference(s) or diversity fails to adequately articulate complexity. Without the ability to work with the complexity of inter-relation, the politics of diversity proves inadequate to power relations within and among differences, and devolves into liberal pluralism and its attendant diversity management. Because complexity is located in the norms which materialize social relations and the values which social movements produce, it is necessary to investigate and theorize both ethics and politics in order to create an agency adequate to working alliances.
Through historical case studies of how alliances work at particular moments in the histories of feminist, anti-racist, and queer social movements, the book addresses central questions in feminist ethics and politics: questions of agency and action, universalism and relativism, the production of norms and values and their implication in regulator discourses, the construction of social movements, of publics and counter-publics, and the workings of alliances. Chapters are organized around case studies of how alliances work and do not work at particular moments in histories of social movements-the conjunction of movements around the politics, "race" and "gender" in nineteenth century, abolition and feminist movements, the articulation and dis-articulation of "race," "gender," sexuality," and "class" in the 1970s and 1980s, the formation of alliances and oppositions to produce a movement of the "religious right" in the 1990s and possibilities for feminist and queer resistances to such moves. .show more