A feminist coven in the university

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Inspired by Sara Ahmed’s call to study what is near to you, we write about our sometimes-joyful, sometimes-furious, always passionate struggles as graduate students in the academy. As a site of imperialism, racism, and patriarchy, the university grinds especially hard on women, people of color, black, indigenous, queer, disabled, and otherwise oppressed scholars. Out of a desire not just to get by or get ahead in this hostile space of competition and scarcity, we write about a feminist praxis that subverts the academy. Using collaborative auto-ethnography, asynchronous online interviews, and co-theorization, we conjure a network of rebels - what we call the feminist coven. We solicited contributions from feminist graduate students in response to three prompts about forms of communication, emotional labor, and imaginaries. Our findings show a vibrant landscape of creativity, love, rage, and longing for academia to be a more hospitable place. We and our contributors, whose voices pepper this article, offer ideas for how to summon new worlds and ways of being through small actions and everyday practices, subverting the violence of the academy by being the storm that blows through it.




Smyth, A., Linz, J., & Hudson, L. (2020). A feminist coven in the university. Gender, Place and Culture, 27(6), 854–880. https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2019.1681367

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