In Power Interrupted, Sylvanna M. Falcón redirects the conversation about UN-based feminist activism toward UN forums on racism. Her analysis of UN antiracism spaces, in particular the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, considers how a race and gender intersectionality approach broadened opportunities for feminist organizing at the global level. The Durban conference gave feminist activists a pivotal opportunity to expand the debate about the ongoing challenges of global racism, which had largely privileged men’s experiences with racial injustice. When including the activist engagements and experiential knowledge of these antiracist feminist communities, the political significance of human rights becomes evident. Using a combination of interviews, participant observation, and extensive archival data, Sylvanna M. Falcón situates contemporary antiracist feminist organizing from the Americas—specifically the activism of feminists of color from the United States and Canada, and feminists from Mexico and Peru—alongside a critical historical reading of the UN and its agenda against racism.
Introduction | The Challenging Road to the Durban Conference
1. Race, Gender, and Geopolitics in the Establishment of the UN2. UN Citizenship and Constellations of Human Rights3. A Genealogy of World Conferences against Racism and the Progression of Intersectionality4. Making the Intersectional Connections5. Intersectionality as the New Universalism
Appendix | Copy of the E-mail and Non-Paper Sent by the US Government to US NGOs during the Preparatory Period of the 2001 WCAR
Power Interrupted contributes to the literature on the ways that transnational feminism is both shaping and opening new spaces of possibilities within the UN and transforming the activists and their strategies.
Manisha Desai, author of Gender and the Politics of Possibilities: Rethinking Globalization
Theoretically rich and empirically rigorous, Power Interrupted will shift the way scholars and activists think about the United Nations as a site for feminist anti-racist activism. This work represents the best of the new scholarship pushing us to think more productively about the connections and tensions between intersectionality and the transnational. Falcón shows that anti-racist feminism is challenging the UN to expand the way it addresses racism and women’s rights. A must read.
Mary Margaret Fonow, coauthor of Making Feminist Politics: Transnational Alliances between Women and Labor
This book highlights an important shift in the UN discourse around race that occurred at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerances but was soon overshadowed by the events of 9/11. Its analysis of the two UN agendas that began almost as parallel mandates, but came to intersect due to the work of feminists of color working in both the women’s rights and social justice arenas, makes a significant contribution to the field.
Lisa Crooms-Robinson, professor of law, Howard University
In the ardently thought-provoking and often stirring Power Interrupted, Falcón, a sociologist and assistant professor of Latin American and Latino Studies, sets out to reveal how feminist activists of color ‘advocate for a more comprehensive approach to understanding racism at the UN level’ by offering a candid and, at times, caustic critique of Western feminism as practiced within the UN.
National Political Science Review