Tales of Transgression in a Bordered World
A deeply thoughtful, intimate yet political exploration of women’s free and unfree movement, sharing stories from refugees, disability activists and more.
Governments’ decisions usually impact most on the lives of women and people of marginalised genders–yet their stories often go unheard. Wander Women unites tales of different journeys around the world and shines light on the boundaries and constraints–both physical and invisible, political and social–that mould the lives of cis women, trans people and gender-nonconforming individuals.
In this moving and reflective book, two journalists draw links between the gendering of migration and the policing of gender; between cities and borders that restrict mobility. Those sharing their stories tell us what it is like to move through the world with a ‘threatening’ gender identity, the ‘wrong’ nationality, ‘transgressive’ politics, or a ‘disability’.
From the streets of London to the ruins of Syria, from Calais to Russia to Western Sahara, this book gathers voices of all ages–of pioneering activists and artists, matriarchs and mothers, politicians and humanitarians. They paint a picture of structural inequality, in which gender, movement and freedom have long been intertwined.
A current of warmth and resilience runs through and connects these extraordinary voices. They offer tales of resistance and determination, in a world that tries to deny many the right to make their own choices.
‘Blanchard and Howlett “weaponi[ze] storytelling as a means of resistance” as they interrogate the dehumanizing labels the media uses to frighten native British citizens about the threats coming across the English Channel from France.’ — CHOICE
‘A searing examination of human mobility at the margins, in this age of criminalisation and violence against those who move in search of safety and opportunity.’ — Nanjala Nyabola, author of Travelling While Black and Strange and Difficult Times
‘Urgent and affecting, Wander Women brings forth extraordinary stories of courage and resistance.’ — Aanchal Malhotra, author of Remnants of Partition: 21 Objects from a Continent Divided
‘Everyone should read this. Wander Women shows viscerally that we are all united by the pain caused by the patriarchy and our longing to be free. It takes a village to change the world–and I am more confident than ever that we can do it.’ — Charlotte Proudman, award-winning barrister, and author of Female Genital Mutilation: When Culture and Law Clash
‘Wander Women explores the physical and social experiences of some remarkable individuals, navigating a bordered world and overcoming a complex intersection of vulnerabilities arising from war, migration, disability, sexual orientation, gender queerness and more.’ — Lipika Pelham, author of Passing: An Alternative History of Identity
‘Intimate and powerful storytelling through the voices of women on the move whose experiences and struggles are too often marginalised or ignored.’ — Leonie Ansems de Vries, Director of the King’s Sanctuary Programme and Chair of the Migration Research Group, King’s College London
Alexandra Blanchard is a writer, teacher and host of the podcast The Grand Thunk.
Alex Howlett is currently a reporter with Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit, and previously wrote for the Financial Times.