Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds
290 pages
6.75 x 9.75 inches
August 2018
Print ISBN: 9780889616035
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How and why do “ordinary” women and nonbinary people engage in various forms of social-change work at different times in their lives? What does it mean for these people to age as activists? Unsettling Activisms brings together insights from academics and activists in an intergenerational conversation that addresses these questions. Drawing on diverse lived experiences, including contributions from leading feminist and age studies scholars, this volume investigates how powerful, interlocking forms of difference such as gender, class, race, ability, ethnicity, sexuality, and Indigeneity, shape the meaning and experience of both ageing and activism. This vital resource consists of eight analytic chapters and eight vibrant reflective pieces, alongside poignant poetry and photography. This collection is best suited for undergraduate and graduate courses in gender studies, activist and social movement studies, and age and ageing studies.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xiii

Introduction Amplifying Activisms 1

May Chazan


Poem I: Grandmother 22

waaseyaa’sin christine sy

Introduction to Part I: Pluralizing 24

Carole Roy

Chapter 1: Rethinking the Politics of (Grand)Mothering: Activisms and the
Lifecourse 28

May Chazan, Melissa Baldwin, and Jesse Whattam

Reflection 1: “Climbing into My Granny Pants”: Reflections from a Grandmother Activist 46

Peggy Edwards

Chapter 2: Activist Aging: The Tactical Theatrics of RECAA 50

Kim Sawchuk and Constance Lafontaine

Reflection 2: Continuity and Change: A Personal Reflection on Activism Across
Time and Space 66

Sadeqa Siddiqui


Poem II: Firekeeper 72

Keara Lightning

Introduction to Part II: Persisting 74

waaseyaa’sin christine sy

Chapter 3: “That’s My Bridge”: Water Protector, Knowledge Holder, Language Professor 80

Elder Shirley Ida Williams Pheasant

Reflection 3 “And Then We Let Them Go, and We Have Their Backs” 89

Monique Mojica

Chapter 4: Settler Solidarities and the Limits of “Granny Activism” 102

May Chazan

Reflection 4: Learning to Listen: a Half Century of Walking with First Peoples 117

Jean Koning


Poem III: This Mouth 122

Niambi Leigh

Introduction to Part III: Embodying 124

Sally Chivers

Chapter 5: Strengthening Our Activisms by Creating Intersectional Spaces for the Personal, the Professional, Disability, and Aging 129

Nadine Changfoot, Mary Anne Ansley, and Andrea Dodsworth

Reflection 5: Words, Work, and Wonder: Poeting toward Midlife 145

Ziy von B

Chapter 6: The Raging Grannies Versus the Sexperts: Performing Humour to Resist Compulsory (Hetero)sexuality 153

Marlene Goldman, May Chazan, and Melissa Baldwin

Reflection 6: (In)Visible: Photographing Older Women 170

Maureen Murphy and Ruth Steinberg


Poem IV: Lip Point for Bearded Womxn 186

waaseyaa’sin christine sy

Introduction to Part IV: Remembering 189

Laura Madokoro

Chapter 7: Activist Archiving and the Feminist Movement in Mexico: Collecting Art and Ephemera as Political Practice 194

Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda

Reflection 7: Activist Aging on the Airwaves: Radical Reflections on the
Community Radio Show Aging Radically 208

Melissa Baldwin and Maddy Macnab

Chapter 8: Intergenerational Interventions: Archiving the Grandmothers Advocacy Network 213

Pat Evans, Sharon Swanson, May Chazan, and Melissa Baldwin

Reflection 8: Following Nan to the Kiji sibi 229

Jenn Cole

Closing Activist Theirstories and the Future of Aging Activisms 233

May Chazan, Melissa Baldwin, and Pat Evans

Contributor Biographies 255

Index 265

May Chazan

May Chazan is a Canada Research Chair in Gender and Feminist Studies, and a faculty member in Gender and Women’s Studies at Trent University.

Melissa Baldwin

Melissa Baldwin is a graduate student at the Frost Centre for Canadian and Indigenous Studies at Trent University.

Patricia Evans

Patricia Evans is a recent post-chair of the Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN).


“This book is a powerful read for its ability to not just simply state, but show how an intersectional framework actually works to capture those voices and identities previously made invisible or marginalized through the power structures of society. In each contribution, whether theoretical, analytical, prose, or image, each author superbly demonstrates the editors’ overall goals of broadening traditional, static concepts around activism to be more inclusive of older women’s political struggles, breaking down gender binaries to highlight more fluid identities, and decolonizing our gazes to privilege Indigenous voices.”

“In an era where recent political changes have led to a dramatic resurfacing of racism, sexism, and heteronormativism, and a dangerous backslide regarding human rights issues, this volume edited by Chazan, Baldwin, and Evans is more than just timely, it is critically important. The brilliant exploration of activism and aging, in many contexts and at many points in the life cycle, provides hope and inspiration for those of us who continue to struggle on the ground, at the front lines, or in the trenches. As mother and grandmother activists we feel this volume is a must read!”

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