Herlands: Exploring the Women's Land Movement in the United States (Paperback)

Herlands: Exploring the Women's Land Movement in the United States By Keridwen N. Luis Cover Image


How women-only communities provide spaces for new forms of culture, sociality, gender, and sexuality

Women’s lands are intentional, collective communities composed entirely of women. Rooted in 1970s feminist politics, they continue to thrive in a range of ways, from urban households to isolated rural communes, providing spaces where ideas about gender, sexuality, and sociality are challenged in both deliberate and accidental ways. Herlands, a compelling ethnography of women’s land networks in the United States, highlights the ongoing relevance of these communities as vibrant cultural enclaves that also have an impact on broader ideas about gender, women’s bodies, lesbian identity, and right ways of living.

As a participant-observer, Keridwen N. Luis brings unique insights to the lives and stories of the women living in these communities. While documenting the experiences of specific spaces in Massachusetts, Tennessee, New Mexico, and Ohio, Herlands also explores the history of women’s lands and breaks new ground exploring culture theory, gender theory, and how lesbian identity is conceived and constructed in North America. Luis also discusses how issues of race and class are addressed, the ways in which nudity and public hygiene challenge dominant constructions of the healthy or aging body, and the pervasive influence of hegemonic thinking on debates about transgender women. Luis finds that although changing dominant thinking can be difficult and incremental, women’s lands provide exciting possibilities for revolutionary transformation in society.

About the Author

Keridwen N. Luis is lecturer in the departments of anthropology; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; and sociology at Brandeis University, and in the departments of women, gender, and sexuality and sociology at Harvard University.

Praise For…

"No foggy remnant of a dying era, lesbian (and women’s) lands continue to provide meaning and solace to many women who are dissatisfied with and alienated from the dominant U.S. culture and its heterosexism. Herlands documents a particular moment in history in which a radical movement of primarily white women imagined and crafted a different world. There are few instances cross-culturally in which women have taken such dramatic steps to remake the world in their own image, which is why this story, an empathetic view of a group of women continuing to define themselves and live independently, is a must read."—Evelyn Blackwood, Purdue University

"Herlands is an accessible and sympathetic ethnography of the lesbian back-to-the-land movement. Going well beyond caricatures of landdykes, Keridwen N. Luis shows the promise of feminist intentional communities—their enactment of utopic ideals of collectivity, feminist embodiment, and ecofeminism—without sidelining how the animating logic of women’s nature/nature-as-woman also reproduces transphobia, white supremacy, and settler colonialism. What emerges is a complex reading of gender, race, and nature in a rural lesbian culture."—Margot Weiss, author of Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality

"The book is an ethnography rooted in the methods and language of Anthropology. It’s refreshing to see women's lands positioned as the saving remnants that we always hoped they might become!"—Duluth News Tribune

"For urban, landscape, and community planners, a careful read of Herlands can shake loose the biases and banalities that inform our current assumptions about who is included in our sanitized visions of future communities. Landscape architecture and planning practices are grappling with intersecting threads of systemic racism and segregation, income inequality, and new perspectives on gender and identity, all within the context of climate change. Women’s communities have been facing these issues head-on, grappling with them in all the conflict and messiness required in utopian work, and they offer clues for alternative practices. "—Landscape Architecture Magazine

"Luis describes the unique freedom she feels in an exclusively woman space. She is able to interact with others less carefully, and to experience a sense of self-possession and awareness."—Full Stop

"Herlands makes important points about the cultural dynamics of social movements, the politicization of everyday life, current debates within feminism, and the persistence of inequality within social movements."—Mobilization

"The book is deeply enmeshed in cutting-edge contemporary academic arguments about identity politics."—American Journal of Sociology

"The relevance of the collectives, in addition to their reach into mainstream and left-of-mainstream culture, is their creation of a space to debate and examine and critique. In some of the most refreshing sections of the book, Luis describes the unique freedom she feels in an exclusively woman space."—Full Stop Reviews Supplement

"Luis’s depiction of real women necessarily provides a much more nuanced narrative of complex lives, identities, and motives."—H-Net

Product Details
ISBN: 9780816698257
ISBN-10: 0816698252
Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press
Publication Date: October 23rd, 2018
Pages: 320
Language: English
Front facade of University Press Books

From 1974, University Press Books has stoked the blaze of well over ten thousand minds on fire, carrying new scholarship published by the great university presses in the English-speaking world.

For more than 45 years, UPB operated out of the west half of 2430 Bancroft Way in Berkeley. We presently operate on line and stock a sales wall within the Musical Offering, same street address, east half.

Order from us. Shop us. Let well-wrought words churn and burn within.