This paper attempts to connect my personal experiences as an academic activist, along with my first-hand experience in rural areas in Jordan, to ‘barefoot nisswiyya’ [barefoot feminism], a concept I coined in 2002 and have been developing through praxis since then. These experiences have helped me connect with nature in the countryside as a ‘Fourth Space’, as articulated by Nigel Thrift, disrupting some hierarchical and power-related practices in an attempt to bring about more balance in overdue social change and transformative paradigms within my own self and community. By using the two methodic tools that I crafted of Bawh بوح [spontaneous intimate articulation and disclosure] and Ishrah عشرة [engaging connectedness], I explore how this practised form of nisswiyya has helped me, first and foremost, to build Ishrah with grassroots women (shepherdesses, farmers, factory workers, janitors) while they are articulating their Voices and vernacularising their Stories that manifest their nisswiyya. These stories illuminate how barefoot nisswiyy(at) [feminists] navigate through patriarchal and hierarchical spaces to mobilise the ‘barefooted’ Fourth Space (Nigel Thrift constructed four different spaces: (1) the empirical; (2) the unblocking, fluid space; (3) the image, virtual space; and (4) the Fourth Space that he calls the Place Space). The paper discusses all these experiences as rooted in barefoot nisswiyya, a form of feminism/nisswiyya(ism) which aims to narrow the divide between theory and praxis, connect the personal to the political, step away from ‘femocracy’ and power-over empowerment, and widen the scope of feminism to encompass expressions of indigenous knowledge that is driven by homegrown grassroots women’s agency.
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