Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Decolonial Feminisms and Education

Hello DeColonial Feminists! Recently we decided that it was time to reconvene our group and to start actively posting on our blog again during the spring 2010 semester and hopefully, beyond. We have been thinking about the links between decolonial thinking and education, whether in the classroom or outside of it and, of course, in between spaces. We might formulate a series of questions that address different aspects to this broad topic, some of which Dalida brought up in a recent email:

  • What is the curriculum of decolonial feminist education?
  • What is our archive?
  • What are the forms of knowledge and pedagogies that emerge from a decolonial feminist praxis?
  • What are the ways of knowing, senses and sensibilities, that we wish to honor, produce and/or access?
  • Where does decolonial feminist education occur?
  • What do formal institutions of learning in the U.S. have to do with decolonial feminism?
  • What does decolonial feminism have to say to those institutions?
  • What does decolonial feminist education look like as a transnational project?
As part of our goal in answering and addressing some of these questions, we want to begin putting together some readings that we can undertake together around these questions. And maybe we will decide that reading brings us to a limit, at which point we must look to other media as well as part of a decolonial educating practice and praxis. Here are some additional questions to think about: How does our performance as teachers in the classroom affect our students? How can we work to bring other media into classrooms or disciplines that are traditionally "text" based? Moreover, what are the implications of new pedagogies on the embodied experiences of students and teachers alike? That is to say, how does a student's relationship to something like physical movement change in a decolonial classroom setting and how might transformations in the classroom impact actions and spatial relationships beyond the institution? Body, space, movement. Three things I see as relevant to the discussion...

In order to collaboratively create a dialogue on this topic, what readings would you be interested in undertaking? Here are a few obvious texts to include in a running bibliography:

Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Chela Sandoval, Methodology of the Oppressed

Feel free to add some questions you find interesting and some suggestions for reading so that we can stitch together a bibliography and get a reading schedule in place in time for our next meeting on Monday, March 15th. Perhaps by then we can settle on a few themes to start exploring with more depth. Hope to see and talk with more of you soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Conceptualizing the Gift

Based upon the readings for this coming meeting I think there may be some basic questions to address. While I read Cesaire first then Wynter and Nelson's piece last as a random ordering, it will be the order I will address my comments. The main theme to stand out in Cesaire's Discourse for me was a formulation of inter-subjectivity that laid bare the disguises of colonialism. In other words, colonialism and domination were consistent with modernist claims to progress and etc. so long as the colonies and the colonized had no means to narrate the historical process themselves. The question for me here is the role of decolonization movements in the later half of the 20th century and the processes which led to nationalist revolutions and the circumscribing of decolonization in the discourse of the nation. This question has been taken up by David Scott in Conscripts of Modernity in which he questions why decolonization took the route of national states and why such an outcome is more usefully characterized by tragedy than by the romanticism of the literature that emerged from cultural production during this period of decolonization. Scott would characterize narratives of the colonized in terms of romanticism for a state apparatus of their own which never fully permits the escape from what Quijano calls the coloniality of power.
With Wynter's article I paid attention to the historical construction of her "politics of being." I found the article very useful, the final point about the "politics of being" as a matter of "introducing invention in to being" was also an inspiring positionality given the previous 75 pages of annihilation and destruction. The question I have here is simple, what is feminist about Wynter's article? I have a notion of what might be feminist about it but I thought there could be a lot of different opinions about it. For instance, I noticed her nod to Quijano in terms of the treatment of gender as being biogenetically fixed and thus outside the boundaries of racializing procedures (p. 264).
Lastly, I enjoyed Nelson's article too because it situated Cesaire's work as a framework or theoretical position from which to address questions of decolonization: the gifts of decolonization actually are the subjectivities held back in Wynter's "politics of being." The notion that the colonized have been erased from humanity because colonization took the means by which to contribute to humanity was really useful for me. The question I want to pose then is how can we conceptualize the gift of decolonial feminisms? How can we articulate this position as both a theoretical and scholarly issue and a social form to embody?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Muxe de Oaxaca

The NYT recently reported on the Muxe gender formations in Zapotec culture in Oaxaca Mexico.
Link to article

Alejandra Islas has also made a documentary that can be viewed online here.

Lynn Stephens has also written an article in Latin American Perspectives here.

Some unanswered questions remain; such as how does the acceptance of a "3rd gender" in Zapotec communities contribute to their racialization in Mexico? An historical question here might be to think through the conditions of possibility for this cultural continuity. In other words, how is it that Muxe genders have transformed through the colonial encounter and subsequent incorporation into nationalist hegemony. One question that I ponder is what are the conditions of possibility for transexual subjectivities in a patriarchial system? Is it that only men are tolerated to occupy queer gender formations.

Any other thoughts here?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Bienvenidos, this is the inaugural post for the web log of the DeColonial Feminism Working Group at the University of California, Berkeley. This group is one among a constellation of others dedicated to a coordinated and focused conversation about the intersection of philosophy, gender studies, race studies, and cultural studies. This multi-sited project has many origins but has most recently been led by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Philosophy, Interpretation and Culture (CPIC). These working groups continue the conversations represented in the Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise: A Web Dossier (WKO). Please use this blog as a supplement to coordiante, collaborate, and discuss the group's work.