Resist, Organize, Build

Feminist and Queer Activism in Britain and the United States during the Long 1980s

Edited by Sarah Crook & Charlie Jeffries

Subjects: History, Queer Studies, Women's Studies, American History, Social Movements, Black Studies
Series: SUNY series in Queer Politics and Cultures
Hardcover : 9781438489599, 366 pages, August 2022
Paperback : 9781438489582, 366 pages, February 2023

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Table of contents


Introduction: Thinking through and beyond the 1980s
Sarah Crook and Charlie Jeffries

Part I: Student Politics and the Body Politic

1. "Aggies are Not Queers" A History of Gay Student Services v. Texas A&M University, 1975–1985
Michael S. Hevel and Charles J. Thompson

2. "Specialty" Listening: Creating Space for Queer Programming on American College Radio in the Long 1980s
Katherine Rye Jewell

Part II: Anti-Racist, Anti-Imperialist, Anti-Borders Action

3. "We were fire-fighting against Thatcher and the system she was putting forward": The Black Women's Movement and the Boundaries of Nationhood in Thatcher's Britain
Jade Bentil

4. "Spiritualists, ideologues, pragmatists, feminists, and women of all descriptions": The British Women's Liberation Movement, the UN Decade for Women, and Feminist Transnationalism in Spare Rib
Charlotte Lydia Riley

Part III: Families, Reproduction, and Health

5. Making Queer Families: Foster Family Activism in Los Angeles, 1977–1985
Nora Kassner

6. Thatcherism, the Black Women's Movement, and the Politics of Motherhood in Britain
Kate Turner

7. A Framework for Choice: The Lasting Influence of 1980s Advocacy on Reproductive Rights in the United States
Tamar Holoshitz

8. Opening DOORWAYS and Closing Others: Tactical Deployments of Respectability, Religion, and Race in the St. Louis Early-AIDS Response
Katie Batza

Part IV: Grassroots Images, Speech, and Power

9. Polareyes: A Magazine by and for Black British Women Photographers as a Site of Resistance in London, 1987
Taous R. Dahmani

10. The Business of Feminism Endures: Four Decades of Spinsters Ink and Aunt Lute Books Publishing Lesbian-Feminist Books in the United States
Julie R. Enszer

11. Lesbians Talk: British Lesbian Politics and the Sex Wars
Flora Dunster


Looking Back, Thinking Forward: Grassroots Activism and Modern Histories
Sarah Crook

Critically Reflecting (on) the 1980s
Charlie Jeffries


Juxtaposes feminist and queer activism in Britain and the United States in the face of resurgent conservatism during the 1980s.


The 1980s was a period of political and social tumult in Britain and the United States. Facing resurgent conservative forces, feminist and queer activists organized in ways that not only resisted conservative hegemony but also helped to forge new communities, communications, and futures. Resist, Organize, Build casts new light on grassroots campaigns in Britain and the US, looking at feminist and queer work on university campuses, within anti-racist and anti-imperialist movements, in reframing the family, reproduction, and health, and in the establishment of new magazines, book series, and publishing houses. The collection brings together emerging and established scholars to position historical work on the two national contexts side by side, drawing out similarities and differences. Taking care to center historically marginalized voices, the collection gives students and scholars insight into and examples of the work of activist groups in a time that has many resonances with our own.

Sarah Crook is Lecturer in Post–1800 European Social and Cultural History at Swansea University in Wales, United Kingdom. Charlie Jeffries is British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birbeck, University of London in England, United Kingdom.


"…this collection will be especially valuable to undergraduate students who are looking to investigate queer and/or feminist histories and develop their own research … the editors have achieved a great feat in contributing a reflective volume that highlights and signals to the importance of fighting ongoing injustices, and yet enables the reader to step away with a greater sense of optimism towards the future." — Contemporary British History

"This book presents new, original scholarship based on extensive archival research and oral history. Most of the individuals, groups, and publications that are its focus have not been previously studied. By comparing the US and Britain and examining both feminist and queer activism, which often developed in tandem, the volume contributes a great deal to historical knowledge of social movements in this time period." — Tamar W. Carroll, author of Mobilizing New York: AIDS, Antipoverty, and Feminist Activism