a global feminist book list

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Some of you may know that I am currently doing an Independent Study Class about global feminism and gender imperialism. You might want to read my post about confronting western feminism and motherhood. When I was creating the “syllabus” or list of books and literature that I wanted to read, I struggled. I had a lot of trouble finding books and textbooks that fit my criteria and talked about the topics I wanted to discuss. I included a little information about my criteria when looking for these books at the end of this post, in case anyone was interested. A little background, I am learning about the feminist history of different parts of the world, feminist movements in history, the connection to gender imperialism but, my takeaways so far have exceeded that. At the end of my class, I will do a full post on my takeaways and advice to aspiring global feminists. Overall, this post is my book list of books and authors that I wish someone told me about when I was younger and developing an interest in feminism. Please leave any additions to the book list in the comment section below, and feel free to share any thoughts or comments!


disclaimer: all of these books are linked so that you can find them if you are interested. I try not to support Amazon, however, these are older books and non-fiction so it can be hard to find them anywhere else. If you have recommendations or alternative book sources (like Thriftbooks or used bookstores) please use those and share them in the comments! 

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African Women and Feminism: Reflecting on the Politics of Sisterhood. This was the first book I read for this class and also one of the firsts books that really showed me what I was missing. I wrote a post, about western feminism, based on what I learned and took away from this book. It is another collection of essays with a focused topic about African Women and Western Gender Imperialism. Be prepared to read this book and change your perspective on feminism, western feminism, and the version of history that you have been told. This book opened my eyes and the essays I read made a really big impact on me as a western female, feminist, and global citizen. However, it does talk about some sensitive topics, but I think that’s why it’s such an amazing and thought-provoking book. Get ready to reexamine a lot of your life and what you have been told.

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Women’s Activism in Latin America and the Caribbean: Engendering Social Justice, Democratizing Citizenship. I enjoyed this book, but I will warn you that the amount and range of information can be a little intimidating and overwhelming. It is another collection of essays highlighting various the history of feminism and major women’s movements in Latin American and the Caribbean. However, the uniqueness of this book is that a lot of the themes in the book relate to citizenship, democracy, neoliberalism, and how Latin American feminism differs from Western feminism. I learned a lot from this and like I mentioned before, I was able to connect a lot of the ideas to the African history book, which helped me understand everything a lot better. My advice when reading these essays is to look at the table of contents first and pick out the ones that seem interesting to you AND the ones with topics that you don’t know too much about.

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Gendered Paradoxes: Women’s Movements, State Restructuring, and Global Development in Ecuador by Amy Lind. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it IN ADDITION to the previous one, because even though they are similar, this book highlights some of those main ideas from the previous book, but specifically their reality in Ecuador. It is an examination of the history of women’s movements in Ecuador but goes into depth about the relationship of women’s organizing with neoliberalism and globalization. I wrote a post on sisterhood and motherhood because of this book, and I had the most fun time connecting all of these ideas, also with African Women’s history and ideas. This would be a good follow up to read if you enjoyed Women’s Activism in Latin America and the Caribbean: Engendering Social Justice, Democratizing Citizenship.

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Women Culture Politics by Angela Davis. This is one of Angela Davis’s collection of essays, speeches, and literature. I read this book for the American feminism section of my class, but it has been on my to-be-read list for such a long time. The topics center primarily around Black American Women and how the government has contributed to their place in society. The included works were written in the 1980s, but the topics are really relevant. It was really interesting, especially when you contrast it with a book like the Feminine Mystique since they were both about America in the late 1900s. I am pretty well-read when it comes to American feminist literature, but this book was so enlightening. Her unique perspective allowed for a lot of incredible connections between Militarization in the US and the poverty of black Americans, specifically black women. I stand by this book as a feminist/political nonfiction that everyone should read.

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Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire. This book is another collection of essays from Asian American feminists and community organizers. Something to emphasize here is that the term “Asian” here isn’t limited to East Asia, but includes a lot of south Asian and pacific islander voices too. I really enjoyed this book and even though it was written a few decades ago, I felt that I could relate to it a lot more. Although I related to a lot of the ideas of the book, I still learned a lot about American feminist history and got to see a lot more perspectives.

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Gender and Sexuality in Modern Chinese History by Susan L. Mann. I didn’t know this when I got this book, but I just found out that this author is white. I am currently reading this book and I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s not a collection of essays but is actually pretty comprehensive. look at Gender and Sexuality in China, and the progression of it as different political periods came and went. This book is different from the rest, because it doesn’t address anything intrinsically feminist, but rather explores the ideas of gender and sexuality as a whole. I realized, after purchasing this book, that it was written by a white, western woman, however, she does address this in the preface. She acknowledges her background and the dominance of western literature, but ultimately vows to make sure she presents this information in its proper context (the context of China’s history, culture, etc.)

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Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity. I haven’t read this book yet but I wanted to include it because I will be reading it soon as part of my class.

my criteria. These are a few of the things I looked for when I was trying to find books for my class, however, I, unfortunately, could not stick to them 100% due to many factors (price, availability, etc.) but mainly accessibility.

  1. related to my topic ( feminism and gender imperialism in a specific region of the world and )
  2. consisted of many different perspectives within that region. This usually meant collections of essays from multiple women from multiple countries.
  3. written by someone with a connection to the part of the world. I really did not want to read something about Europe or written by Europeans. European and Western (white) feminism have already had a lot of representation and I wanted to give other stories the spotlight for once.
  4. this is not a criteria point, but I really tried to find all of these books in used condition

Please add to this list! I am always looking for new books to read especially when they aren’t as “mainstream” as some books like The Feminine Mystique. Also, feel free to leave any comments or thoughts. They are always appreciated. Lastly, if you want to see any more of my book-related content or book lists, click here!

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