During the 1980s, capitalism triumphantly secured its global reach, anti-communist ideologies hammered home socialism's inherent failure, the New Left increasingly moved into the professional middle class--and many of feminism's earlier priorities were marginalized. "Identity politics", often formulated in terms of social reconstructionism or multiculturalism, has increasingly suppressed materialist feminism's systematic perspective, replacing it with discourse analysis or cultural politics. Materialist Feminism: A Reader argues against the retreat to multiculturalism for keeping invisible the material links among the explosion of meaning-making practices in highly industrialized social sectors, the exploitation of women's labor, and the appropriation of women's bodies that continues to undergird the scramble for profits and state power in multinational capitalism.
Rosemary Hennessy is Assistant Professor of english at SUNY, Albany. Chrys Ingraham teaches in the Department of Sociology at Russell Sage College.
"I believe this reader is a needed return to historical materialist critiques of social texts... Materialist Feminism should be requisite reading for any class, or citizen, on the historical imperatives of feminist theory and praxis." -- Sean C. Newborn, Journal of Popular Culture
"...it is gratifying to find work that attempts to straddle both town and gown." -- Jan Levine Thal, Feminist Collections, vol 19, no 4