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Toward Planetary Decolonial Feminisms
The title of this dossier honors the social activism and political philosophy of the coalitional project of decolonial feminisms. While those involved in this conversation have for the most part been located in geographical spaces regularly referred to as the United States and Latin America (particularly Bolivia and Mexico), the central question that motivates our solidarity—what does it mean, as Laura Pérez writes in her essay here, “to engage in decolonizing coalitions that take feminist queer of color critical thought seriously as central to the work of decolonization?”—is one that is necessarily posed between and beyond these reiﬁed time-spaces. The contributions to feminist thinking made in this dossier by scholar-activists working in and across the contexts of Bolivia, the United States, Korea, Japan, India, and France can perhaps best be understood as moving between the “post” and the “de” colonial; beyond the reiﬁcation of our globe toward a version of what Gayatri Spivak has named planetarity.1 I put emphasis here on placing postcolonial studies in conversation with decoloniality, rather than “introducing” decolonial feminisms as a new and therefore more accurate or universal way of unthinking colonization. My aim is to defamiliarize postcolonial studies by “introducing” the project of decolonial feminisms as an open-ended question, “what does it
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mean to take feminist queer of color critical thought seriously?” rather than as a predetermined program disciplined by a rigid lexicon. I offer an image of feminisms inspired by Cho Haejoang and Ueno Chizuko’s dialogue across the postcolonial border between Korea and Japan, “Speaking at the Border/Will These Words Reach . . . ,” which is featured here. Taking my cue from their discussion of Miwa Yanagi’s artwork My Grandmothers and Ueno’s sixth letter, I say, “[l]et us embark on a journey called a [trans]modern old age” feminisms. Given the alarming rate at which gains made by the civil rights movements are being overturned by the dissolution of various progressive, interdisciplinary, “ethnic,” or “gender” studies programs at the university, this journey will be highly oppositional.2 María Lugones’ Critique of Aníbal Quijano: Historicizing the “light” and “dark” Side of the Coloniality of Gender The term decolonial has been taken up by many different thinkers and social justice movements.3 What follows here is a particular geopolitical and academic conceptualization of the decolonial, one that emerges from, and works to bridge, two very different sites—the modern/colonial group (hereafter “M/C group”) and U.S. Third World queer women of color. (See Laura Pérez’s “Enrique Dussel’s Etica de la liberación, U.S. Women of Color Decolonizing Practices, and Coalitionary Politics amidst Difference” in this issue.) For María Lugones, “decolonial feminisms” names a coalition of thinkers also interested in bridging this gap. Our effort to place these different frameworks in dialogue is based on the claim that the M/C group, while taking “the coloniality of power seriously[,] have tended to naturalize gender” through an ahistorical and heterosexist account of patriarchy.4 While a thorough review is beyond the scope of this introduction, I will provide a brief summary of a crucial element of the M/C group’s thought—Anibal Quijano’s theorization of the “coloniality of power” (which takes place, most notably, in his article “Coloniality of Power, Latin America, and Eurocentrism”)—and then discuss Lugones’ critique of it; this will allow me to show the full stakes of a decolonial femi-
and its corresponding epistemes and cultures. he states that it leaves out the large extent to which “precapitalist” and “premodern” colonial economic practices generated and were in fact contemporaneous with the capitalist modernity ordinarily thought to follow them.6 Implicit in this claim is a critique of the Eurocentric Marxist perspective that locates the genesis and particularities of capitalist modernity in the Industrial Revolution and philosophies of the late eighteenth century. leaving no space or mind untouched.5 While it is important not to homogenize the various thinkers and projects that have contributed to the M/C group. it locates the constitutive underside of modernity as the grounds from which to think an “ethics of liberation.Maese-Cohen: Introduction 5 nist understanding of the gendered character of coloniality. The failure to recognize this underside of modernity leads to the view that global capitalism. Into this central concept Lugones interjects a more nuanced critique of gender. As he explains. This engagement is one of the unifying terms that brings them together under the umbrella term M/C. are autochthonous phenomena that are originally internal to Europe and that then spread outward from it in a unidirectional movement and toward unexplored primitive economies and people. First. thereby ignoring what Enrique Dussel refers to as “the underside of modernity” or “ﬁrst modernity” that is contemporary with the 1492 conquest of the Americas. no outside. her contributions are intended for the M/C group as a whole. Instead. it is clear that a serious engagement with Quijano’s coloniality of power informs each of their projects. Dussel’s concept of transmodernity rejects this closed-system and fatalistic teleology and the category of postmodernism to which it gives credence. . While Lugones frames her analysis through a direct engagement with Quijano. this is signaled by the addendum of gender in her phrase “colonial/modern gender system.” Quijano makes three broad claims about the concept of transmodernity that are integral to decolonial feminist thought.” Walter Mignolo’s oft-quoted statement that “there is no modernity without coloniality” captures what is perhaps the most deﬁnitive claim made by the M/C group: coloniality is constitutive of modernity and not derivative of or accidental to it.
and agential consequences of the M/C group’s argument for a shift in the genealogy of modern capitalism from eighteenth-century Northern Europe to the ﬁfteenth-century encounter with people who were forced into the subhuman identities of “Black” and “Indian”: a theory of power that highlights the absolute co-production and contemporaneousness of race.2 [f]rom the Eurocentric point of view.6 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol. many of these “improper” modes of labor occurred concurrently with the commodiﬁed industrial labor that is seen as marking the beginning of industrial capitalism. Second. slavery. Quijano details the economic. the United States and Europe alike arose as much through their reliance on patron-client relations. Moreover. epistemic. One of the primary consequences of the Eurocentric occlusion of this coexistence of the “capitalist” and the “precapitalist” in modernity is that colonialism can appear to be premodern and therefore in the past—no longer relevant. and gender.18. Quijano claims that the modern conception of race—the biological codiﬁcation of differences between peoples and genders—was integral to the colonization of the Americas because the heterogeneous structure of labor control that was required for it relied on such distinctions. labor. the subjugation of colonized workers. that is.” 551) Instead. In contrast to more widely accepted critiques of Marxist historical materialism. and outright slavery in their colonies as through the “commodiﬁcation of the labor force” that resulted in the system of waged labor thought to be proper to industrial capitalism. serfdom. he adds. reci- . Since “the historical process of the constitution of America” integrally involved. “forms of labor control includ[ing] slavery. and independent commodity production are all perceived as a historical sequence prior to commodiﬁcation of the labor force. The fact [however] is America didn’t emerge in a linear historical sequence. debt peonage. reciprocity. again. (“CP. They are precapital. petty-commodity production. no. They are [supposedly] not only different but radically incompatible with capital. as a category for analyzing the persistence in the contemporary world of systems formed by ostensibly incompatible types of labor and the imperial mode of power they support. he argues.
the control of a speciﬁc group of dominated people.” 538). or reciprocity) into industrial capital” since that would have involved “liberating American Indian serfs and black slaves and making them waged laborers” (“CP. that is. . . A new technology of domination/exploitation. at the same time. (“CP. Quijano identiﬁes how the coloniality of power continues in the present. Faced with the contradictions of commercial and industrial capital that disallowed the economic integration of such negatively ra- .” therefore each one of them was also articulated to capital and its market. In the case of Latin America (and in contrast to the United States).” 535) Nonetheless. . the persistence of coloniality after nineteenthcentury independence is in part due to the ways in which the entrenchment of racial categories prevented nationalist elites from “developing their social interests in the same direction as those of their peers. serfdom. . [T]his strategy has been exceptionally successful. (“CP. in this case race/labor. was articulated in such a way that the two elements appeared naturally associated. the various forms of labor were hierarchized in terms of race. Europeans associated nonpaid or nonwaged labor with inferior races” (“CP.Maese-Cohen: Introduction 7 procity. . and their elaboration is therefore neither separable from the latter’s rise as a “modern” system nor anterior to its “advanced” phases. raced identities always functioned to secure different forms of labor for capitalism. converting commercial capital (proﬁts produced either by slavery. and wages” and since “each form of labor control was no mere extension of its historical antecedent. [A]ll forms of labor as subordinated points of a totality belonged to the model of power. In fact.” 566). The consequence that Quijano underscores is that the control of a speciﬁc form of labor could be. in spite of their heterogeneous speciﬁc traits.” 537) In other words. “[f]rom the very beginning of the colonization of the Americas. Third. which is to say that racial categories simultaneously issued from and reinforced the heterogeneity of the colonial division of labor in precise ways. .
Although pro-indigenous and pro-black on the surface. no. or more precisely. class. and the production of knowledge.2 cialized subjects associated with “premodern” modes of production. egalitarian fusion of the best of the New and Old World as the deﬁning. with the “discovery” of the Americas. “I am also interested in investigating the intersection of race. With the basic outline of Quijano’s theory of the coloniality of power now sketched. Quijano convincingly describes the ways in which the coloniality of power. to enter into dialogue with U. aesthetic. and cultural development. For her. mestizaje.8 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol. “Euromestizaje” “theories of ‘racial’ or ethnic and cultural hybridity” maintained “European and Euro-American cultural and physical standards as measuring sticks of progress and beauty. was the ﬁrst to cover “the entire planet’s population” by geographically differentiating and reserving nonwaged labor for particular groups of people through processes of gender and racialization. but more important to . Lugones makes clear her interest in understanding them in terms of each other when she writes that “I do not believe any solidarity or homoerotic loving is possible among females who afﬁrm the colonial/ modern gender system and the coloniality of power” (“HE. anti-European character of Latin American postcolonialism. as Pérez clariﬁes in her article here. collective authority. intersubjectivity.” intelligence. the post-independence projects of creating national cohesion claimed the cultural integration of these (sub)citizens through the ideology of mestizaje. I now turn to Lugones’ criticism of it. queer women of color theories of intersectionality.S. and legal rights while pointing to the equality supposedly guaranteed by mestizaje. and cognitive superiority was once again naturalized as the apex of modernity and humanity.” 188) and then continues. gender and sexuality in a way that enables me to understand the indifference that men. which celebrated the multicultural. the system of labor control that. European—now Euromestizo—masculine sociopolitical. Nevertheless. his conceptualization of coloniality has yet. she argues. and this despite their similarities. persists because of its ability to cohere across the basic areas of all human existence: sexual access. The postcolonial nation-state could continue denying people of color access to economic. land. labor.18. economic.
(“HE. including social sexual arrangements. Asian. as a matter of history. Lugones writes: Gender does not need to organize social arrangements. European gender arrangements on the colonized” but rather “imposed a new gender system that created very different arrangements for colonized males and females than for white bourgeois colonizers” (“HE. that is. and patriarchy are all characteristic of what I call the light side of the colonial/modern organization of gender. In “Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System. But gender arrangements need not be either heterosexual or patriarchal. However. that is. the understanding of power as a structure in which “the element that serves as an axis becomes constitutive of and constituted by all the forms of power take with respect to control over that particular domain of human existence” is a “good ground from within which” to “place ourselves in a position to call each other to reject this gender system as we perform a transformation of communal relations” (189). men who have been racialized as inferior. Hegemonically.S. while Quijano’s logic of structural axis provides an important framework for thinking the intermeshed qualities of race and gender. Native.” 353).” Biological dimorphism. In contrast to Quijano’s claim that the “[t]he older principle—gender or intersexual domination—was encroached upon by race” (“CP. Quijano seems unaware of his accepting this hegemonic meaning of gender.” Lugones draws on the work of U. Lugones claims that his narrow understanding of gender forecloses a historicized view of patriarchy and a debiologized account of sexuality.” 186).Maese-Cohen: Introduction 9 our struggles. the patriarchal and heterosexual organization of relations—is crucial to an understanding of the different gender arrangements along “racial lines. and black theories of sexuality in order to give an account of how “[c]olonialism did not impose precolonial. Understanding these features of the organization of gender in the modern/colonial gender system—the biological dimorphism. heterosexualism. They need not be. exhibit to the systematic violence inﬂicted upon women of color” (188). these are written large over the meaning of gender. queer.” 190) . She goes on to argue that Quijano’s notion of the structural axis.
as stated above. Women are not thought to be disputing for control over sexual access. In contrast to his emphasis on the invention of race. his conceptualization of sex “seems unproblematically biological” (193). is a matter of colonial history. the shape of one’s eyes and hair do not have any relation to the biological. the problem with Quijano’s account of gender. Lugones stresses the violent co-production of each of these subjects. no. To be less than human is tantamount to being without gender. about men’s control of resources which are thought to be female. an animal-like entity deﬁned by hypersexuality and the ability to perform the most difﬁcult labor. however. The differences are thought of in terms of how society reads biology” (“HE. Men do not seem understood as the resources in sexual encounters.” is that it “takes for granted that the dispute over sex is a dispute among men. he also cannot register the female homosocial dispute over sexual access.” . and patriarchy. Lugones draws attention to the very important distinction between the gendering-ungendering nexus that. They are produced in an ungendering-gendering process in which a “light” femininity is characterized as private.” 193). The consequence of Quijano’s biologization of gender is that he cannot historicize what Lugones identiﬁes as the “light” and “dark” side of the colonial/modern organization of gender.” 194). did not share the Western preoccupation with “biological dimorphism. he cannot register masculinities as “resources in sexual encounters”. and precolonial nongendered cosmologies that. which produces “different gender arrangements along ‘racial lines’” through a gendering-ungendering nexus. Hence. which is relegated to the basic sphere of human existence cited above as “sexual access.2 For Lugones.” Quijano “understands sex as biological attributes that become elaborated as social categories” (“HE. sexually passive.7 Because Quijano does not recognize the processes by which gendered subjects on the “light” side of coloniality/modernity are co-produced in relation to the ungendering of subjects positioned on the “dark” or negatively racialized side. Most importantly. “the color of one’s skin.18. opposed to women of color who have been dehumanized through the absence of these characteristics. physically weak. heterosexualism. though not without hierarchical relations of power and violence.10 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol.
In The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses. mistakenly translate the “Yoruba categories obinrin and okunrin as ‘female/ woman’ and ‘male/man’ respectively” (196). who thus colluded with the inferiorization of anafemales” (197).Maese-Cohen: Introduction 11 Citing Oyéronke Oyewùmi’s study of Yoruba society and Paula Gunn Allen’s study of Native America. Allen further documents the ways in which many gynecratic communities “recognized more than two genders” and viewed “third” gendering. Lugones draws on legal history to show that in the United States. Oyewùmi shows ways in which researchers. tribal systems can ill afford gynocracy when patriarchy—that is.” 196). by contrast. Oyewùmi argues against the “validity of patriarchy as a valid transcultural category. Allen claims that “the program of degynocratization” was crucial for the “decimation of populations through starvation. disease.” not by opposing it to matriarchal sociability but by demonstrating that “gender was not an organizing principle in Yoruba society prior to colonization” (“HE. survival—requires male dominance” (“HE. “Now dependent on white institutions for their survival. Given these radically divergent forms of social normativity. colonization and its counterpart. the European nation-state system. She writes. . spiritual and economic structures” (199). In her characterization of many Native American tribes as gynecratic—an honoring of the feminine as sacred and therefore as central to the spiritual that inﬂects all aspects of life—Allen draws a similar conclusion. “law does not recognize intersexual status” and “[i]ntersexed individuals are frequently surgically and hormonally turned into males and females” (195). and homosexuality positively (196). established the racial inferiorization of all Africans in tandem with the speciﬁc demotion of African “women” insofar as they were excluded from leadership roles in spiritual. unable to think outside a binary or hierarchical understanding of gender. For Oyewùmi. public. and economic domains. Lugones speciﬁes the processes by which the colonial invention of gender operated. and disruption of all social. intersexuality. “Oyewùmi notes that the introduction of the Western gender system was accepted by Yoruba males.” 199). In The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions.
contradictory terrain outlines the grounds from which to en- . The heterosexualist patriarchy has been an ahistorical framework of analysis. This shifting. To understand the relation of the birth of the colonial/modern gender system to the birth of global colonial capitalism—with the centrality of the coloniality of power to that system of global power—is to understand our present organization of life anew. (“HE. no. when we think of the indifference of nonwhite men to the violences exercised against nonwhite women. on a binary.” (“HE. as happens with Quijano. as a consequence. Lugones’ intervention also does more than just detail the coloniality of violence. and racial classiﬁcation are impossible to understand apart from each other. that is. oppressive gender formation that rests on male supremacy without any clear understanding of the mechanisms by which heterosexuality. capitalism. hierarchical. we keep on centering our analysis on the patriarchy. the notion of an ‘unsexed humanity’ is neither a dream to aspire to nor a memory to be realized. while “in the West the challenge to feminisms is how to proceed from the gender-saturated category of ‘women’ to the fullness of an unsexed humanity. [For the colonized]. we can begin to have some sense of the collaboration between anamales and Western colonials against anafemales.” 197–98) The reason to historicize gender formation is that without this history. the sociopolitical reiﬁcation of what qualiﬁes as feminist theory. At stake are the lines of solidarity that are disabled when the history of the coloniality of gender is not. Thus. So. Oyewùmi makes clear that both men and women resisted cultural changes at different levels.18.2 This documentation of alternative views of nongendered cosmologies and (inter)sexualities is not merely a nostalgic celebration.” 186–87) Lugones’ call for a project of historicization that allows for a “[re]organization of life anew” reveals the tension between the progress made toward unthinking coloniality and the as of yet unsurpassed material realities produced by the shifting relation of the nation-state to global coloniality and.12 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol. . . As Lugones explains. adequately accounted for. .
” These disciplines’ discourse of diversity is unequipped for teaching alterity to be recognized. My claim for this dossier is that this bridging among “dark” subjectivities and the study of their shifting relations to the coloniality of power are what unites various forms of feminisms grouped under the term decolonial. Spivak explains: I propose the planet to overwrite the globe. Globalization is the imposition of the same system of exchange everywhere. on loan.” 72) . and yet we inhabit it. Each of these anticolonial thinkers (and their corresponding ﬁelds of academic scholarship) is weary of being consumed under the sign of multiculturalism or “world literatures. This latter framework’s refusal of “grand narratives” runs the risk of foreclosing theorizations of socioeconomic material change on a planetary level. It allows us to think we can aim to control it. [. (“DO. Reclaiming Intersectionality and Alterity in “Can the Subaltern Speak?” This section will attempt to build a bridge between the postcolonial and the decolonial by conceptually reframing Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?” within the terms provided by Lugones and Quijano. The planet is in the species of alterity. It is precisely for this reason that the tropes of the bridge or “bridging” have been taken up by feminists thinking intersectionality and the movement of border crossing between worlds that is otherwise unimaginable or materially foreclosed. I also use Spivak’s term planetarity to name Lugones and Quijano’s shared critique of a micrological understanding of power. . This is an intracolonized dialogue that does not deny its interlinked relation to the “light” side but recognizes this relation as historical fact. I read Spivak’s seminal essay on postcolonial/transnational feminisms as an argument for the importance of theorizing intersectionality as an antidote for what Quijano identiﬁes as one of the central components of Eurocentrism: the racialization of waged labor. No one lives there. belonging to another system.] The globe is in our computers. an imposition that often interrupts “dark” conversations and alliances. .Maese-Cohen: Introduction 13 able dialogue among those positioned on the “dark” side.
the survival of which evinces simultaneously the constitutive underside of modernity and the possibility of other worlds. our movement will be less likely to oppress its own people through the forcing of certain “correct” political lines.9 As the 1981 publication of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color made clear. no. feminism not by arguing for the inclusion or privileging of either the category of race or negatively racialized people but instead by proposing the intimate co-production of class. If we are courageous enough to legitimate this multiplicity of tactical approaches as valid. [. The “otherness” of these worlds must not be confused with legalistic.] We must persistently educate ourselves into this peculiar mindset. but instead posits a shifting tactical and the strategic subjectivity that has the capacity to re-center depending upon the forms of oppression to be confronted. capitalist. indigenous. and philosophical investment in alternative modes of liberation—modes that are not necessarily “new” but that bear the traces of nonhegemonic or subaltern thinking. pedagogical. . it contains us as much as it ﬂings us away.18. Allen. As Chela Sandoval explains. black.14 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol. .2 If we imagine ourselves as planetary subjects rather than global agents. or moralistic cultural diversity but must instead be understood as an epistemic diversity. and Asian feminists responded to exclusionary practices and theories of a hegemonically “white” U. (“DO.8 That many worlds are possible because there are many epistemologies is an understanding of difference that moves beyond the personal or cultural and instead views alterity as a heterogeneous source for strategic responses to oppression. and race as both analytical . Xicana/Latina. gender. a political revision that denies any one perspective as the only answer.S. it is not our dialectical negation. and Oyewùmi is an experiential. What U.S. socioeconomic.” 73) What those who are directly engaged with the colonial/modern gender system share with theorists of intersectionality such as Spivak. planetary creatures rather than global entities. third world feminists are calling for is a new subjectivity. alterity remains underived from us.
the track of sexual difference is doubly effaced . Spivak demonstrates in her critique of Foucault and Deleuze in particular. What deserves to be re-emphasized. “This S/s subject. By now. They either view the question of subalternity as an “idealistic red herring. More precisely. they have yet to systematically question the presuppositions and language of colonial productions of gender which would require an unlearning of female (and male) privilege (“CT. and therefore complicit with. the subaltern as female is even more deeply in shadow. as Lugones documents. despite the well-known critique of the uniﬁed Subject (and its correlate in the subaltern woman who cannot speak).Maese-Cohen: Introduction 15 categories and lived experiences. . both as object of colonialist historiography and as subject of insurgency. In “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Spivak wrote: Within the effaced itinerary of the subaltern subject. If in the context of colonial production. . belongs to the exploiters’ side of the international division of labor” and is blind to. it is not that the subaltern is either mute or without knowledge.” or. is the way that an analysis of multiple forms of oppression has as its corollary a call for multiple forms of resistance—which do not occur naturally but require the work of dialogue and coalition building. that the inability to enter into dialogue with the “Other” results from the reintroduction of the undivided subject in representations of the worker’s consciousness—which is taken to be whole and wholly transparent. the subaltern has no history and cannot speak. the ways in which “in the constitution of that Other of Europe. this method of analysis has come to sound familiar. the ideological construction of gender keeps the male dominant. Spivak’s contention that the subaltern cannot speak is an indictment of the ways in which First World intellectuals have yet to enter into dialogue with her. great care was taken to obliterate the textual ingredients with which such a . though. curiously sewn together into a transparency by denegations. even if it is rarely practiced.10 As Paola Bacchetta further explains in the interview featured here. to most. and her analysis of Eurocentrism in general. even clichéd.” 287).
However. could occupy (invest?) its itinerary” (“CT. and Ranajit Guha. for instance). Spivak positions the “Other” of Europe within a discourse of ethnicity—more speciﬁcally. Although “Can the Subaltern Speak?” bypasses a conversation about modernity (perhaps for calculated reasons). Jacques Derrida’s understanding in “Of Grammatology as a Positive Science” of European ethnocentrism and its relationship to writing. Spivak’s critique of Foucault and Deleuze for privileging the proletariat as the ﬁgure with which all localized movements of resistance to power must align themselves. the prison. the misrecognition or disinterest in the ﬁrst waves of transmodernity and its geopolitical relation to the Americas that Spivak evinces here. Instead. like most postcolonial critics (Edward Said. there is much to be gained by placing what she names “the broader narratives of imperialism” in conversation with Quijano’s coloniality of power. the university—all seem to be screen allegories that foreclose a reading of the broader narratives of imperialism” (291). and meaningfully expands. while Quijano outlines the biologization of race and gender by tracing the history of “whiteness” through coloniality.” 280). 289. emphasis added). no.” she does so by suggesting that his vision of the ﬁrst wave of “geographical (geopolitical) discontinuity” (her description of what is typically referred to as the emergence of capitalist modernity) is “speciﬁc to the First World” (290. Quijano’s thesis that the racialization of wage labor is a central tenet of Eurocentrism is coherent with. Foucault’s analysis of geopolitical discontinuities is limited by his theorization of the micrological workings of power as an intra-European phenomenon: “The clinic.16 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol. For Spivak. when faulting Foucault as “a brilliant thinker of power-in-spacing” who is nonetheless unaware of “the topographical reinscription of imperialism. For Spivak. however. Despite. this mythologizes the wage laborer as universal. to assume (as she argues Foucault and Deleuze do) that the prisoner and the oppressed in general can know and speak their conditions of oppression—and therefore do not need the intellec- . the asylum. Spivak’s historical framework for theorizing the totality of global capital does not recognize the primacy of the 1492 encounter between Europe and the Americas.2 subject could cathect. as Quijano suggests.18. Homi Bhabha.
queer women of color for epistemic diversity rather than multicultural diversity (“CT. until now. blacks.” 281). to the remaining colonized races in the rest of the world. by contrast. It is in the interest of such cautions that Derrida does not invoke ‘letting the other(s) speak for himself’ but rather invokes an ‘appeal’ to or ‘call’ to the ‘quite-other’ (tout-autre as opposed to a self-consolidating other)” (“CT.Maese-Cohen: Introduction 17 tual to represent them. nations.” 293–94).” it seems to me that Spivak’s use of Derrida as a way to interrupt a politics of assimilation through an insistence on the absolute alterity of the Other has much in common with calls by the M/C group and U. I would like to relocate the source of tension in the limits of Quijano’s conceptualization of race that privileges a Western hemispheric narrative of the Atlantic slave trade in relation to indigenous genocide that doesn’t adequately account for processes of racialization in relation to the “Oriental” ﬁgure of either the Muslim or the Asiatic. U. one that admits that “the Indian case cannot be taken as representative of all countries. Quijano reproduces what he is critical of in . and Latin American decoloniality and Indian postcolonial studies have remained incompatible. and the like that may be invoked as the Other of Europe as Self. and. However. To return to Quijano’s article. in fact do not need the mechanisms of representation as such—is to problematically ascribe transparency to both the intellectual and the intellectual’s Other. and later on.” 539). Though arrived through a very different trajectory.” In his theorization of race. many of which adopt the shorthand of for or against deconstruction. while there have been numerous accounts for why. the “coloniality of power” was based “on ﬁrst the assignment of all forms of unpaid labor to colonial races (originally American Indians. Note the way that racial categories are produced in the Americas and then generalized to “the rest of the world. in a more complex way mestizos) in America.S. Spivak goes on to describe Derrida’s well-known critique of presence as a “vigilance against too great a claim for transparency” that inevitably leads to a politics of assimilation: “To render thought or the thinking subject transparent or invisible seems. to hide the relentless recognition of the Other by assimilation.S. olives and yellows” (“CP. cultures.
“Decolonial Praxis: Enabling Intranational and Queer Coalition Building. I would add the same critique of his category of race. Though placing “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in dialogue with Quijano’s coloniality of power is only one way to open up the intersectionality of heterogeneous formations of race that escape both Spivak’s postcolonial feminism and Quijano’s decoloniality.18 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol. it is a suggestive one.2 Eurocentric Marxism—a disregard for the logic of structural axis that informs the totality of heterogeneous forms of labor.” and “class. To use Quijano to move beyond Quijano might imply an analogue for understanding the heterogeneous forms of race that would view “olive” and “yellow” not in terms of sequential categories to black. Decolonization as an Invitation to Dialogue In his phenomenological explication of the “coloniality of being.” It also requires that we come to understand the ways in which their theoretical isolation is enabled by a totality of power constituted by the incessant reproduction of their interlocking relationality. Japan. Korea. and white but as co-produced.18.” Thinking intersectionality requires that we dereify categories of “race. class.” Nelson Maldonado-Torres suggests that the concept of “transmodernity involves a radical dialogical ethics” and that “[f]or decolonization. and Parisian “women of color” as moving toward planetary decolonial feminisms through theories of intersectionality that attempt to undo the colonial categories of race.” “gender.12 The term totality here can be understood ﬁrst in the sense of the world . As Paola Bacchetta explains in my interview with her in this issue. This line of inquiry might lead to moving beyond the colonial categories of race. Hindu nationalism. no. Indian.”11 This dossier is an invitation to read the contributions made here by feminist thinking on Bolivia. the United States. concepts need to be considered as invitations to dialogue and not as impositions. and class altogether and creating a different lexicon for thinking liberation. gender. and gender.” this attention to an “undoing” “also opens a space for a different kind of doing. If Lugones’ critique of heterosexualism renders Quijano’s category of gender too narrow.
and postcolonial immigration. she’s colors.” In the case of lesbiennes en couleurs. Building coalitions—and I’ve done a lot of coalition work—requires a lot of work from all subjects involved. like poverty and racialization.” as in “yes.Maese-Cohen: Introduction 19 system of power inaugurated by the colonization of the Americas: Quijano’s “coloniality of power.” Bacchetta states: Among ourselves for short we just say “colors. are not problems speciﬁc to the negatively marked bodies that bear their burden. The term decolonial feminisms responds to Spivak and Quijano’s critique of a micrological understanding of power whose refusal to theorize socioeconomic material change on a planetary level turns to an idealized uniﬁed consciousness of oppressed subjects and communities.” These terms are all “auto-designations” that “avoid reiterating the criteria of biochromatic racialization” while speaking to “speciﬁc relations of power” that name “the political conditions of the formation of the subjects in question. The “de” process has to happen all over the place. and not just for subaltern subjects who have been damaged in one way or the other and who are imagined to be the only ones damaged. slavery.” Instead. albeit differently since their formation is different to begin with.” The term calls to mind multiplicity.” Bacchetta further explains: Those from dominant sectors need to decolonize themselves. It marks internal . but not to the detriment of power at every other scale. or “lesbians in colors with colors in the plural. “[g]ender and sexuality. power across scales” and “a completely intimate relation of subject formation under conditions of colonialism. . The “de” of decolonial feminisms can help us get there.” Bacchetta gives examples of such decolonial undoings in coalitions of “lesbians targeted by racism” and “lesbians begotten of/ out of colonialism. as Peréz makes clear. Bacchetta cites the decolonial praxis of Gloria Anzaldúa as an alternative historiography that theorizes the “macro-relations of power .” Second. Colonialism is a damaging process for all involved: colonized. . colonizer. totality is the object of decolonization for which. the hallmark of decolonial feminism is the acknowledgment of “materialites.
The personalized speciﬁcity that Pérez provides performs the kind of “speaking from the heart. and all people of color.” Pérez poses the question. Reiterating “color” signals solidarity with the struggles of U. in theory.S. and European academies has been radically different from the reception of postcolonial theory. and to ask why.” Bacchetta adds that it is also “important to note that the reception of decolonial theory in the U. from the as of yet insufﬁciently undocumented places that produce” liberatory knowledges not “approved of within a university and public culture historically shaped to serve” colonizing practices. and as numerous ‘etc.’” To this undifferentiated “etc. Pérez conﬁrms this process of marginalization in order to mark the limits of Enrique Dussel’s Etica de la liberación. . and all people across the globe for whom those struggles have meaning. the autobiographical works to counter the homogenizing effect of Dussel’s ethics. the struggles of all victims to dominant power to not erase the speciﬁc critiques . Bacchetta conﬁrms. “What academic positions or highlevel academic chairs speciﬁcally for Xicana feminisms studies exist in any elite universities in the U. as uninterrogated categories . academy.S. queers. no. feminists..S. Third World” address the localized particularities of the “light” side of the modern/ gender colonial system within the geopolitics of the United States and their subsequent reverberations throughout the planet.? In contrast.S. What difference could it make to his generalized philosophy and ethics of liberation encompassing.20 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol. which “addresses gender and sexuality through implication rather than direct and detailed discussion.2 difference in the subject. The neologisms “lesbians in colors” and “U. While I suggested earlier that it is important not to understand the “de” as the new “post.” Drawing on the decolonial tradition of autobiographical “writing and thinking strategies.S. across subjects. . postcolonial theory has been able to move into the center of the U. Xicana feminisms provides a concrete example of the ways in which the politics of the new endemic to academia erases those interested in the longue durée of decolonial thinking. lesbians. Moreover. Third World women.” Taken as an example of decolonial scholarship.” Xicana scholar Laura E.18.
hence. . a legitimate form of behavior. who collected information according to the wishes of American anthropological circles? How difﬁcult is it for a Third World anthro- . because of her commitment further to expand Dussel’s “ethics of responsibility for the other” based on love and the “material practices of care. “their fate is tied to my own. . academy. Cho Haejoang and Ueno Chizuko’s “Speaking at the Border/Will these Words Reach . “though we are not identical. ? Furthermore.” For Pérez.” In’Laketch enables an understanding of the negatively racialized or sexualized Other as deeply imbedded in the self. at times.” Pérez suggests that decolonial praxis must further explore and redeﬁne “cultural assumptions that naturalize violence as an essentially dominant or necessary part of human nature and in many. . predominantly female.” an “intellectual-spiritual-social worldview” that claims. Pérez concludes that all truly decolonial “solidarity and coalition inevitably entail the de-gendering and de-heteronormativizing of our conscious subjectivities. and not just limit situations.” Such possibilities can be considered a queer politics that opens up multiple forms of genders in the self by undoing the culturally constructed alignments between “masculinity” and “male” or “femininity” and “female” or “queerness” and “homosexuality. in fact. and César Chávez as examples of “ethical coherence in limit situations. disproportionately queer .” and what appears as external difference reappears as “part of my own potential subjectivity that present power relations have rendered other.Maese-Cohen: Introduction 21 made of patriarchy and heteronormativity that account for why the face of the victim-unto-death is.” Pérez identiﬁes his “assumption that violence is.” Most importantly. Martin Luther King Jr.” In their consideration of the U. you are my other self..” also make this erasure visible.S. we are nonetheless also one. . the two-pronged project of denaturalizing both extraordinary and quotidian forms of violence requires the type of alterity expressed in the Mayan concept of “In’Laketch. tú eres mi otro yo. Citing the nonviolence of Mahatma Gandhi. necessary to eliminate the violence of the dominating unjust” as the limits of his liberation theology. Cho describes her graduate school training in the States: “[H]ad I been a simple research lackey.
’ with whom they had to ‘catch up. She states that “feminism and ribu are not foreign imports. [Korean students] were not interested in the different customs of tribal societies. Cho explains. “It is not that I don’t un- .” Ueno explains that while she is critical of the “current reality where globalization is a code word for Anglicization. even this privilege has its limits: “the power of a particular foreign doctorate will decrease as other people return with more recent knowledge.S women’s studies. and in this sense. [and] a degree earned in Japanese is of lesser value on the international market. “reverse Orientalism (a self-exoticizing of the East) that claims to combat Orientalism (an exoticization of the Eastern Other by the West). it is also concerned with the classroom.22 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol.” she is also weary of a nationalistic. “Unlike the students in the United States. Ueno conﬁrms Cho’s argument for an “indigenous system of knowledge production” in her controversial paper entitled “The Market Value of Degrees by Country.” Across the postcolonial border in Japan.2 pologist to take on a role that is more than that of a knowledge broker?” She is awarded a privileged position upon her return to Korea: “[a]n American doctorate was a certiﬁcate powerful enough to offset the gender discrimination that [she] would have otherwise encountered.” Cho’s response to Ueno articulates yet another turn in the intersectional web of global coloniality.” Yet. ﬁnally everyone must be a native anthropologist. movements that developed in relation to conditions and events speciﬁc to Japan.’” Cho argues for an anthropology that is “not a hobby to be taken up by romantics with a strong curiosity about other cultures. no.18. but rather.” Ueno further historicizes the importance of the “s” in decolonial feminisms given the rise of Japanese nativism (dochakushugi) and the persistent hegemony of U.” Women’s studies in Japan “grew as a grassroots movement outside the university” and “from the rubble of the new left. Anthropologists must be people who set out with the serious intention of solving the problems of their own mother country.” What they “really wanted to know about was the way that people lived in ‘advanced societies. That is because everyone wants a transfusion of the most ‘advanced’ and ‘up-to-date’ theories.” Cho’s critique is not only a corrective to university hiring and publishing practices.
’” Yet. your frustration or rage looks like the impatience and naïveté of someone with less experience of being on the periphery. then perhaps a second shared objective for the project is exempliﬁed here in Ueno and Cho’s investment in degendering “the labor of caring” that. there’s a meeting ground for conversation that’s opening up. and for now we are fumbling around for an indirect route and trying not to get upset about it. Ueno concludes that if Korean intellectuals are trying appear “cool. Still. won’t Korea. which requires a responsible acknowledgment of her position as such. Ueno explicitly acknowledges her own shifting position in both the Japanese and U.” She makes effort to remain “cool” by avoiding “discussing stories of Japanese colonialism with Japanese people when possible. it is not a matter that we can solve through direct confrontation.” Japanese intellectuals “are trying to become a little ‘hotter’ about empire.S. in many ways. perhaps. .” If. for the ﬁrst time. to me.” . Empire. Despite their differences. She also acknowledges past critiques of her research on Korean comfort women (jeongsindae) that spoke too quickly in the name of sisterhood across the postcolonial divide without any “self-acknowledgement as a daughter of the perpetrator. .”13 She also makes clear her that she cannot afford to appear “cool” or unaffected by her position on the “perpetrator” side. Ueno and Cho both agree that “Children’s education cannot any longer be the sole responsibility of the family. as stated earlier. have signiﬁcantly more experience and know-how than Japan? Throughout the letters. neither can the care of elders. . resonates with Pérez’s explication of In’Laketch. from its position on the periphery. As one gets cooler and the other gets hotter. she also realizes that for the group of Korean scholars with whom she associates.” This is because doing so risks “the danger of falling into the structure of ‘victim/ perpetrator. the opening of dialogue between communities whose intersubjectivity is foreclosed by the shifting demands of the coloniality of power serves as the most fundamental presupposition for grouping various feminisms under the rubric of the decolonial. Regarding ways of survival.Maese-Cohen: Introduction 23 derstand your strong apathy toward Occidentalism.
nor can it be the cheapest kind of labor.” Despite the “work time devoted” by migrant women to aynis “reciprocity arrangements. “whether indigenous. the “the slow incorporation of a hegemonic family model into the fabric of indigenous community life” includes “the modern legal system” that has thrown the Andean “intricate gender system into crisis. no. In contrast to the celebrated rights guaranteed by the constitution. which grants unprecedented rights for the indigenous.24 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol.18.” Anticipating that such a project “will be laughed at as a dream. or reﬁnadas. the ﬁrst indigenous president in the history of South America.” Ueno concludes that some people are already living a politics of care that views “the condition of depending on others” neither as a “form of humiliation” nor an “invisible sacriﬁce” but as a right and “rewarding work.” Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui documents the ways in which the misrepresentation or nonrepresentation of the economic and cultural labor performed by Bolivian women. no indigenous organization has reclaimed these settings as terrains of struggle.” they do not “enjoy social respect and recognition.” In “The Notion of ‘Rights’ and the Paradoxes of Postcolonial Modernity: Indigenous Peoples and Women in Bolivia. cholas. Rivera Cusicanqui details the limits of these “modern” civil rights insofar as in “Bolivia. “cannot any longer be free labor.” compradrazo. however. “[u]ntil now. that is to say.” Moreover. and more recently the 2009 constitution. birlochas.” As such. the nourishment of “social and ﬁctive kinship relations. each of which has signiﬁcantly contributed to the election of Evo Morales.2 Furthermore. and there . these types of “third labor shifts” are often “eclipsed by the avatars of the migration adventure” and their corresponding labor unions. governed by pater familias. “the labor of caring” can no longer be designated the work of women. Similar to the work of Oyewùmi and Allen. the initial act of colonization was gendered: the very idea of rights arrived already tainted by the subordination (formal and real) of women in the household.” functions as the basis for their erasure from “public sites” of resistance such as the organization of labor unions and territorial struggles for land.” and the organization of “businesses or workshops on the basis of circuits of nonmonetary labor and produce exchange.
therefore. For a review of U. has reinforced and multiplied them. “Nueva perspectiva ﬁlosóﬁca en América Latina: El group Modernidad/colonialidad. eds. “Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System. . See María Lugones. commitment.” Hypatia 22. and action. 2. Hereafter cited as “HE. ed. eds. Hawaiian sovereignty activist Poka Laenui (drawing on the work of Filipino psychologist Virgil Enriquez) outlines ﬁve overlapping phases of the “Process of Decolonization”: rediscovery and recovery.” online at http://www. no. mourning. 3. dreaming.htm. participants. who in the state imaginary exist only as ‘mestizas. Death of a Discipline (New York: Columbia University Press. 4.com/sovereignty/colonization. To name one such circuit. Most recently the UC Berkeley budget cuts have threatened the alternative philosophy centers. 1981).. 2007). women of color see Laura Pérez’s article in this issue. 2–3 (March/May 2007): 179–210. and main areas of concern for the M/C group see Santiago Castro-Gómez and Ramón Grosfoguel.’” Rivera Cusicanqui.” Percipecias 63 (August 2007). Arturo Escobar.” special issue. 1 (2007): 186–209. Cultural Studies 21. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (New York: Kitchen Table Women of Color Press. 1990). See “Process of Decolonization.” Notes 1.” in “Globalization and the Decolonial Option.” For a review of the genealogy. and Gloria Anzaldúa. Making Face. “Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise: The Latin American Modernity/Coloniality Research Program.opihi . Damián Pachón Soto. makes visible the “invisible work of women [which] contributes to the reproduction of ethnicity” in a country where the “long memory” of anticolonial resistance has “put forward a new model of citizenship that. Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga. Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Press. See Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. 2003).Maese-Cohen: Introduction 25 is no notion of indigenous rights that applies to these women. no. El giro decolonial: Reﬂexiones para una diversidad epsitémica más allaá del capitalismo global (Bogotá: Siglo del Hombre Editores. the collection hereafter cited as MF. far from erasing cultural differences..S.
Hereafter cited as “CP. In Sandoval’s critique.18. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Urbana: University of Illinois Press. the main ﬁgures that underestimate ideology are Roland Barthes and Frederic Jameson. Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book. “Introduction: Opening the Canon of Knowledge and Recognition of Difference. Eurocentrism. “Introduction: Coloniality of Power and De-Colonial Thinking. no. I hope a future bridge will be built between Spivak’s correlation between ideology and the multiplicity and textuality of the colonized. and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2007).” Nepantla 1. Cultural Studies 21. as portrait (darstellen). and Latin America. Sandoval further expands this strategy of multiple forms of resistance or “oppositional consciousness” in Methodology of the Oppressed (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. a project of counter-ideology that is enabled by a hermeneutics of love outlined in Methodology of the Oppressed. “Feminism and Racism: A Report on the 1981 National Women’s Studies Association Conference. Sandoval is careful to distinguish between multiplicity and fragmentation. 1988).” Another Knowledge Is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies (London: Verso. 2000). and Chela Sandoval’s decolonial love. 10. 2003.” Black.” in “Globalization and the Decolonial Option. 3 (2000): 533–80.” special issue. Making Soul and then developed in Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition against Multiple Oppressions (Maryland: Rowman & Littleﬁeld. 2003). “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. See Chela Sandoval.” in MF. was ﬁrst featured in Making Face. 67. which is foreclosed by Eurocentric epistemic violence.” 6. Hereafter cited as “CT. I take the word “ungendering” from Hortense Spillers.26 qui parle spring/summer 2010 vol. Mignolo. no. 227–300.” Spivak disagrees with Foucault’s and Deleuze’s emphasis on the micrological nature of power insofar as it rejects a theory of ideology by conﬂating desire and interest and ignoring the differences between representation as political through the state or law. no. Although it is beyond the scope of this introduction. Lugones’ concept of world-traveling. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. See Boaventura de Sousa Santos. “Coloniality of Power.2 5. as proxy (vertreten) and re-presentation as aesthetic-philosophical or subject-predication. 7. White. . Walter D. “Mama’s Baby. 2–3 (March/May 2007): 162. ed. 8. 287. 9. See Anibal Quijano.
“the encounter with the possibility of death does not have the same impact or results than for someone whose mode of alienation is that of depersonalization by the One or They. Nelson Maldonado-Torres. . especially “Purity. but from a desire to evade death. and Separation.” For this reason. decolonization does not “emerge through the encounter with one’s own mortality. see Lugones’ analysis of intermeshing in Pilgrimages. Nashonarizumu to Jenda (Nationalism and Gender). “On the Coloniality of Being: Contributions to the Development of a Concept. 1998). Ueno quotes from Ueno Chizuko.” 13. Impurity.” Cultural Studies 21 nos.Maese-Cohen: Introduction 27 11. In this piece Maldonado-Torres argues that the “coloniality of being” is the normalization of the non-ethics of war insofar that “the encounter with death is no extra-ordinary affair. one’s own but even more fundamentally that of others” (251). 2–3 (March/May 2007): 261. For a detailed argument for the importance of dereifying the particularities of the terms that “intersect” in theories of intersectionality. Death is not so much an individualizing factor as a constitutive feature of their reality. 12. part 3 (Tokyo: Seido-sha. but a constitutive feature of the reality of colonized and racialized subjects.” In contrast to Heidegger’s Dasein.
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