Martha Ackelsberg

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Martha Ackelsberg
Alma mater
AwardsFrank Johnson Goodnow Award, APSA
Scientific career

Martha A. Ackelsberg is an American political scientist and women's studies scholar. Her work focuses on the nature of power and its relationship with communities. Cases used in her research include feminist activism in the United States and the Mujeres Libres, an anti-fascist women's organization during the Spanish Revolution of 1936.


Ackelsberg attended Radcliffe College where she earned a BA, and Princeton University where she graduated with an MA and a PhD.[1] Ackelsberg joined the faculty at Smith College in 1972.[2] Ackelsberg was one of the first professors in the Women's studies program at Smith College, which she has been credited with helping to build.[3] Throughout her first several decades as a professor, Ackelsberg was active in Jewish feminist activism with groups like B'not Esh.[4] In 2006, she was appointed the Five College 40th Anniversary Professor at Smith College, and in 2007 she was named the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor.[2] She retired in 2014.[2]

Ackelsberg has written and edited several books. In 1991 she published Free Women of Spain: Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women, which has since been reissued. The book is a history of the Mujeres Libres (Free Women), a women's organization during the Spanish Revolution of 1936 that distinguished itself from other anti-fascist groups by seeking a broad emancipation of women in Spanish society.[5]

Ackelsberg also wrote the 2010 book Resisting Citizenship: Feminist Essays on Politics, Community, and Democracy.[1] This collection of essays studies the connection between community and power, using the United States as a case study to investigate this connection in the context of democratic theory.[6] The essays particularly focus on power as obtained and expressed by feminist activists among their lager communities.[6]

Together with Kristen Renwick Monroe and Rogers M. Smith, Ackelsberg received the 2010 Frank Johnson Goodnow Award from the American Political Science Association, a lifetime award that "honors service to the community of teachers, researchers, and public servants who work in the many fields of politics."[7]

Ackelsberg's work has been covered in media outlets like Nexo (pt)[8] and The Jewish Voice,[9] and she has written for Gotham Gazette.[10] Her partner is Judith Plaskow, professor emerita of religious studies at Manhattan College.[11]

Selected works[edit]

  • Women, Welfare, and Higher Education: Toward Comprehensive Policies, edited, with Randall Bartlett and Robert Buchele (1988)[1]
  • Free Women of Spain: Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women (1991)[1]
  • Resisting Citizenship: Feminist Essays on Politics, Community, and Democracy (2010)[1]

Selected awards[edit]

  • Frank Johnson Goodnow Award, American Political Science Association (2010)[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Martha Ackelsberg". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Martha A. Ackelsberg". Smith College. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  3. ^ Ripley, Amanda (22 June 2019). "Democrats and Republicans are very bad at guessing each other's beliefs". Washington Post. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  4. ^ King, Danae (25 January 2019). "Columbus synagogue to explore intersection of Judaism and feminism". The Dispatch. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  5. ^ Humphrey, Michelle (1 July 2005). "Review Free Women of Spain: Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women". Clamor (33): 68.
  6. ^ a b Maurer, Erin (1 January 2013). "Review Ackelsberg, Martha A., 2009, Resisting Citizenship. Feminist Essays on Politics, Community and Democracy. London & New York: Routledge, 288pp., ISBN 978-0415935197, $37.33 (pb)". Comparative Sociology. 12 (4): 582–584. doi:10.1163/15691330-12341277.
  7. ^ a b "Listing of all Recipients". American Political Science Association. 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  8. ^ Domingos de Lima, Juliana (27 September 2019). "O que foi o grupo Mulheres Livres na Guerra Civil Espanhola". Nexo. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  9. ^ Greenfield, Daniel (10 June 2019). "Is the "Left" or "Right" Responsible for Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes in NYC?". The Jewish Voice. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  10. ^ Arielle Korman; Martha Ackelsberg (5 June 2019). "How to Address Anti-Semitism in New York City, and Beyond". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  11. ^ Nussbaum Cohen, Debra (18 January 2011). "Judith Plaskow is Still Standing, Twenty Years On". Forward. Retrieved 30 March 2020.