How to Belong

Womens Agency in a Transnational World

By (author) Belinda A. Stillion Southard

Hardback - £63.95

Publication date:

05 October 2018

Length of book:

160 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271082004

In How to Belong, Belinda Stillion Southard examines how women leaders throughout the world have asserted their rhetorical agency in troubling economic, social, and political 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.

“In this provocative and compelling book, Belinda Stillion Southard offers an illuminating answer to the fundamental question of how people assert their membership in political communities. Considering cases of women's leadership in Africa, Stillion Southard unpacks the complex rhetorical dynamics of agency in a transnational era. She explores how women overcame skepticism and hostility at regional, national, and international levels to articulate roles as indispensable community members. How to Belong offers key insights on the relationship between individual and community.”

—Robert Asen, author of Democracy, Deliberation, and Education