Out of the Ivory Tower: Feminist Research for Social Change


312 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-894549-24-4
DDC 305.42





Edited by Andrea Martinez and Meryn Elizabeth Stuart
Reviewed by Allison Sivak

Allison Sivak is a librarian in the Science and Technology Library at
the University of Alberta.


This collection of 14 essays presents research encompassing subjects as
diverse as feminist bioethics, the experiences of female First Nations
chiefs, and Austrian women’s literature. Editors Andrea Martinez and
Meryn Stuart state that they put out a call for papers without
specifying their theme any further than focusing on feminist research,
resulting in an extensive collection of academic disciplines,
methodologies, and presentation styles.

The majority of the contributors are associated with the Institute of
Women’s Studies (IWS) at the University of Ottawa, which formed in
1999 (although a women’s studies degree was established there in
1983). The relatively short period of time in which formalized feminist
scholarship has been underway at the university belies the explosion of
feminist research and publishing in Canada that has taken place in the
last 20 years. Even though it is a comparatively young discipline, the
editors note that many of the researchers at the IWS “were not aware
of the feminist work being done within our university nor how this work
could be linked to the wider political agendas we wished to support.”

The book’s demonstration of the range of feminist scholarship within
a single institution is remarkable. Women’s studies is by its very
nature interdisciplinary, which is underscored by the papers included.
Notable works include Aoua Bocar LY-Tall’s essay on female genital
mutilation (FGM). The author deconstructs the perception that only
sub-Saharan African peoples perform FGM (historically, Europeans have as
well) while at the same time documenting global anti-FGM efforts.
Caroline Andrew’s paper on women in the urban landscape investigates
women’s formal involvement (or lack of involvement) in urban
policymaking and grassroots organization around urban safety. Andrea
Martinez and Elizabeth Turcotte present their research on Aboriginal
women’s connection to and presence on the World Wide Web. Further
essays on women in prison and their construction as “wicked bodies”
(Sylvie Frigon) and a series of historical works demonstrate the
evolution and potential of women’s studies.

Anchored to the realities of women’s lives, this collection presents
research that can support the various movements towards women’s
equality in our culture.


“Out of the Ivory Tower: Feminist Research for Social Change,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/18166.