Feminisms and Postcolonialities
How are feminisms in different parts of the world, and as espoused by different subjects, historically constructed? How have these feminisms intersected with and debated one another? How do the histories of colonialism, postcolonial nationhood and global capital shape these intersections and debates? In the academy, we often pay lip service to the idea of “differences” among women, and yet forget that, as Heidi Tinsman puts it, “what constitutes useful categories of feminist analysis is a matter of geopolitics rather than epistemological catch-up.” This seminarprovides an opportunity to read and think about such debates, categories, histories and contemporary global relations.
We cannot cover all parts of the world, and the syllabus does not include “token” essays to ensure coverage. Rather, it features representative writings that best allow us to explore key intersections of gender and sexuality with the dynamics of colonialism, decolonization, nationhood, and globalization. Materials produced in the US and Britain will be juxtaposed with the work of scholars and activists working in the Global South, or with those writings that tend to be less visible in the Western academy. Our readings will include the work of Maria Mies, Hazel Carby, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Susan Okin, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Gayatri Spivak, Lata Mani, Joan Scott, Ratna Kapur, Nivedita Menon, Afsaneh Najmabadi, Ifi Amadiume, G. Arunima, Urvashi Butalia, Vandana Shiva, Chela Sandoval, Valentine M. Moghadam, and Saba Mahmood.
Through these diverse materials we can consider how different types of feminist theory and practice can engage with questions of sexual identity, with racial, religious and ethnic difference, as well as with historical transformations rendered by globalizing capital, migration, and ecological change. Ultimately, our goal will be to grapple with the three key issues that feminisms everywhere must always engage: identity, agency and social justice.