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Multiracial Activism around Reproductive Rights in America from the Second Wave of Feminism

Peck, Sabina Josephine (2018) Multiracial Activism around Reproductive Rights in America from the Second Wave of Feminism. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis examines the relationship between reproductive rights activism and white feminists’ efforts to work multiracially between the years 1977-1989. It charts a shift from strategies that focused on white women’s ‘outreach’ and ‘recruitment’ to those that were more concerned with coalition-building and anti-racism work. The second part of the thesis considers the ways that white feminists have interpreted right-wing threats, both to reproductive rights and to their own ability to shape feminist narratives – and, in turn, how those interpretations affected their efforts to work multiracially. This thesis examines four major case studies: the 1977 National Women’s Conference, the Reproductive Rights National Network (active c.1978-1984), the Marches for Women’s Lives in 1986 and 1989, and the In Defense of Roe conference held in 1989. It draws on oral history interviews and archival research to identify several overarching themes that have characterised white women’s efforts towards multiracial activism: networks, education, racially autonomous spaces, and narrative creation. The original contribution to knowledge of this thesis is twofold. Firstly, it departs from existing scholarship which broadly portrays multiracial organizing (particularly in ‘mainstream’ feminist organizations) as having failed. It explores what successful multiracial activism might look like when looking beyond traditional norms of defining ‘success’. It argues that taking a longer-term view is more useful when examining ‘successes’ of multiracial activism: short-term failures sometimes served to lay foundations for future success. Secondly, this thesis moves away from narratives of the second wave which portray white feminists as, for the most part, uninterested in working across racial lines. This thesis demonstrates that many white women did want to work multiracially – but that their strategies, priorities and motivations shifted throughout the period.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Feminism, Race, Multiracial Activism, Reproductive Rights, America, USA, Second Wave, Women
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Sabina Peck
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2018 13:23
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2018 13:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21498

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