This is the book I have always wanted to write. Writing it, however,
has taken considerably longer than any of my earlier books. The idea
to write about Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS) and the group that
wrote it began to form during a casual conversation with a colleague
in 1997 and has gone on to span more than eight years, involving
three prolonged sojourns in the United States. The book has been a
long time coming in part because I had to finish other projects (the
usual problem for busy academics) and squeeze in time to get back
to the United States to do the fieldwork for the book. However, the
main reason for this long genesis was not the usual problem of time
and distance but rather a fateful eureka moment midway through my
investigation that convinced me I had gotten it all wrong and needed
to go back to the drawing board. What had started out as a history
of one of U.S. feminism’s most popular and successful projects had
been transformed into a transcultural inquiry into how OBOS had
“traveled” and the implications of its travels for how we think about
feminist knowledge and health politics in a globalizing world. This
shift in perspective added years to the project, making it more com-
plicated (though also more interesting). It required excursions into
several fields (translation studies, feminist activism in Latin America
and postsocialist Europe, and postcolonial theory) that were rela-
tively new for me. The result is, I hope, a better book—more timely,
more forward looking, and more relevant for contemporary feminist
Since I live and work in the Netherlands, this book would obvi-
ously have been considerably more difficult—if not impossible—to
write without the chance to visit the United States at regular inter-
From September 1998 to April 1999, the work was supported by a
Rockefeller research fellowship at Columbia University. I am espe-
cially grateful to Mary Marshall Clarke and Ron Grele at the Oral
History Research Office for introducing me—a dissident psycholo-
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