Taking a Stand in a Postfeminist World

Toward an Engaged Cultural Criticism

By Frances E. Mascia-Lees & Patricia Sharpe

Subjects: Anthropology
Paperback : 9780791447161, 254 pages, October 2000
Hardcover : 9780791447154, 254 pages, November 2000

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Table of contents



1. On Shaky Ground: Shifting Terrain and the Predicaments of Postfeminism

Part I: Shifting Stance: Strategic (Re)Positioning

2. The Postmodernist Turn in Anthropology: Cautions from a Feminist Perspective

3. The Anthropological Unconscious

Part II: Taking a Seat at the Movies: Assessing Theories of Representation and Identification

4. An Oblique Look: Theorizing the "Other" as Spectator

5. Courting the Nineteenth Century: Object, Image, and Fetishistic Desire

6. Self-Help Hollywood Style: Masculinity, Masochism, and Identification with the Child Within

7. Piano Lessons: Jane Campion as (Counter)Ethnographer

Part III: On Display: Style and (Ad)dress in Consumer Culture

8. The Female Body in Postmodern Consumer Culture: Subjection and Agency at the Mall

9. Arts and Crafts Mass Marketed

Part IV: Taking a Stand: Subjects and (Dis)courses in the Academy

10. Body as Text: Young Women's Negotiations of Subjectivity

11. Interpreting Charges of Sexual Harassment: Competing Discourses and Claims


12. Locked In, Locked Out, or Locked Up?




Ranging across contemporary culture from the academy to shopping malls, this book offers engaged cultural criticism in a postfeminist context.


Taking a Stand in a Postfeminist World offers an engaged cultural criticism in a postfeminist context. At the end of the twentieth century, an increasingly globalized world has given rise to a cultural complexity characterized by a rapid increase in competing discourses, fragmented subjectivities, and irreconcilable claims over cultural representation and who has the right to speak for, or about, "others." While feminism has traditionally been a potent site for debates over questions that have arisen out of this context, recently, it has become so splintered and suspect that its insights are often dismissed as predictable, seriously reducing its capacity to offer powerful cultural criticism. In this postfeminist context, the authors argue for a cultural criticism that is strategic, not programmatic, and that preserves the multiple commitments, ideas, and positions required of interactions and identifications across lines of cultural, racial, and gender difference. Selecting sites where such interactions are highlighted and under current scrutiny—film, consumer culture, tourism, anthropology, and the academy—the authors theorize and demonstrate the struggles and maneuvers required to "take a stand" on a wide range of issues of significance to the contemporary cultural moment.

Professor Frances E. Mascia-Lees teaches anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College, and is the author of Toward a Model of Women's Status and coauthor of Gender and Anthropology. Patricia Sharpe is Dean of Academic Affairs at Simon's Rock College of Bard, and along with Frances E. Mascia-Lees, coedited Tattoo, Torture, Mutilation, and Adornment: The Denaturalization of the Body in Culture and Text, also published by SUNY Press.


"Mascia-Lees and Sharpe are keen observers of contemporary culture, scholars who cull evidence carefully to reach their conclusions. What's more, they combine careful scholarship with representational inventiveness. They take creative risks with voice, structure, and subject. I'm sure their various takes on the post-feminist world will please many, anger some, and stimulate all." — Paul Stoller, author of Jaguar: A Story of Africans in America