Explores accountability as a framework for building movements to transform systemic oppression and violence
What does it take to build communities to stand up to injustice and create social change? How do we work together to transform, without reproducing, systems of violence and oppression?In an age when feminism has become increasingly mainstream, noted feminist scholar and activist Ann Russo asks feminists to consider the ways that our own behavior might contribute to the interlocking systems of oppression that we aim to dismantle.
Feminist Accountability offers an intersectional analysis of three main areas of feminism in practice: anti-racist work, community accountability and transformative justice, and US-based work in and about violence in the global south. Russo explores accountability as a set of frameworks and practices for community- and movement-building against oppression and violence. Rather than evading the ways that we are implicated, complicit, or actively engaged in harm, Russo shows us how we might cultivate accountability so that we can contribute to the feminist work of transforming oppression and violence.
Among many others, Russo brings up the example of the most prominent and funded feminist and LGBT antiviolence organizations, which have become mainstream in social service, advocacy, and policy reform projects. This means they often approach violence through a social service and criminal legal lens that understands violence as an individual and interpersonal issue, rather than a social and political one. As a result, they ally with, rather than significantly challenge, the state institutions, policies, and systems that underlie and contribute to endemic violence.
Grounded in theories, analyses, and politics developed by feminists of color and transnational feminists of the global south, with her own thirty plus years of participation in community building, organizing, and activism, Russo provides insider expertise and critical reflection on leveraging frameworks of accountability to upend inequitable divides and the culture that supports them.
"The essays in this book inspire a renewed commitment to a principled struggle for justice. Russo invites anti-violence scholars and activists to re-dedicate ourselves to the goals of freedom and liberation both in how we live and how we do our work; making the case that feminist accountability is both a political aspiration and an everyday practice. Courageous, compassionate, and demanding, this book is like a breath of fresh air, just when our liberation movements need it!" ~Beth Richie,Author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation
"Replacing hyper-individualism and division with interconnectivity and community, Russo develops useful strategies for post-oppositional transformation. Her emphasis on accountability, responsibility, and relationship-building within contexts of uneven power offers a healing approach to social justice work." ~AnaLouise Keating,Author of Transformation Now!: Toward a Post-Oppositional Politics of Change
"Grounded in over thirty years of Russos anti-racist, feminist, and queer anti-violence activism, there are few books that explore the possibilities of building a more just and liberatory feminism with such astute political vision, compassion, and concrete detail. Feminist Accountability has the potential to generate an important shift in feminist politics towards an ethics of community accountability and transformative justice. I am tremendously moved and inspired by this book." ~Christine Keating,Co-editor of LGBTQ Politics: A Critical Reader
"Russo shares the collective wisdom garnered from years of rich experiences in imagining, designing and implementing practices of feminist accountability. This deeply self-reflexive book chronicles the authors many years of activist engagement in antiracist, feminist, and social justice activism. As she powerfully demonstrates, this is fundamentally a collective accomplishment. She foregrounds the passionate and transformative work of diverse activists, scholars, and social justice organizations that have developed unique and effective resistance and transformative strategies for social change. Of course, most of these justice warriors are women, queer, trans and gender nonconforming people of color. Anyone seeking to counter systems of privilege and oppression in everyday life and in social structures that perpetrate violence and injustice should read this book." ~Nancy Naples,Co-editor of Border Politics: Social Movements, Collective Identities, and Globalization
"As a feminist organizer, Ive been waiting for this collection of essays for years. How do we address and transform violence in non-punitive ways? Ann Russo offers a compelling analysis of how a praxis of accountability can guide us toward some answers to this question. As a scholar-activist, Russos insights are drawn from both theory and practice. She has tried on and tried out the ideas she espouses in community with others. The essays are beautifully written and accessible to all. Feminist Accountability is a must read for anyone interested in community accountability practices, anti-violence organizing and transformative justice." ~Mariame Kaba,Founder of Project NIA