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How to Belong:

Women's Agency in a Transnational World
Table of
In How to Belong, Belinda Stillion Southard examines how women leaders throughout the world have asserted their rhetorical agency in troubling economic, social, and politic conditions. Rather than utilizing the concept of citizenship to bolster political influence, the women in the case studies presented here rely on the power of relationships to create a more habitable world. With the rise of global capitalism, many nation-states that have profited from invigorated flows of capital have also responded to the threat of increased human mobility by heightening national citizenship's exclusionary power. Through a series of case studies that include women grassroots protesters, a woman president, and a woman United Nations director, Stillion Southard analyzes several examples of women, all as embodied subjects in a particular transnational context, pushing back against this often violent rise in nationalist rhetoric. While scholars have typically used the concept of citizenship to explain what it means to belong, Stillion Southard instead shows how these women have reimagined belonging in ways that have enabled them to create national, regional, and global communities. As part of a broader conversation centered on exposing the violence of national citizenship and proposing ways of rejecting that violence, this book seeks to provide answers through the powerful rhetorical practices of resilient and inspiring women who have successfully negotiated what it means to belong, to be included, and to enact change beyond the boundaries of citizenship.


List of Abbreviations


Introduction: Rhetorics of Belonging in a Transnational World

1 Belonging as Denizenship: Peace Women and Regional Dwelling

2 Belonging as Cosmopolitanism: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s New Nationalism

3 Belonging as Connectivity: Michelle Bachelet’s Transnational Governance

Conclusion: How to Belong (or Not) to the Nation-State




How to Belong is a must-read for anyone interested in on-the-ground feminist rhetorical agency in action. It shows how, across the globe, women have used rhetorical acuity and skill not only to reimagine and negotiate change in their communities but also to craft new notions of belonging that reach beyond the nation-state.”

—Rebecca Dingo, author of Networking Arguments: Rhetoric, Transnational Feminism, and Public Policy Writing

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