Indigenous Feminist Theories and 'Fourth World' Feminisms: Commonalities in the Art of Decolonizing/Disassembling Power Structures and Relations

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Laura CORRADI, Steering Committee - Unesco Chair for Gender Equality and Women Empowerment, India, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento Scienze Politiche e Sociali - Gender Studies and Intersectional Methodology - Feminist/Queer Lab, Italy
During the last decades, Indigenous feminists and feminists from former colonies criticized white supremacy in mainstream feminist and women's movements, and in academic knowledge production. Globally, feminists of color, Aboriginals, Dalit/Adivasi feminists, Kurdish jineology in Rojava, Maori and Gypsy feminists made clear how general theories reflect standpoints of the global north (Talpade Mohanty 1984; Moreton-Robinson 2006; Green 2007; Suzack, Huhndorf, Perreault and Barman 2010; Meyer 2015; Castillo, González 2008; Corradi 2014, 2017).

White privileges and power dynamics have been challenged within feminism itself. Social scientists and activists were exposed to self-reflexive methodologies and invited to examine critically how, as researchers, they embody the power structures in terms of gender, race/color, class, status/caste, age, sexual orientation, religion. Maori Feminist Linda Tuhiwae Smith (1999) taught us how to decolonize research methodology; others highlighted how to decolonize feminism itself (Lugones, Lucena 2008; Bidaseca, Laba 2011); Vietnamese feminist Trinh Minh-ha pointed out how the colonizers encouraged jealousy among women and how "decolonization of relations" is necessary too. As Romani feminist Alexandra Oprea (2004) argued: "It is only through recognizing our privilege, whether it be white privilege, male privilege, class privilege, light skinned privilege, or heterosexual privilege, that we can challenge hierarchical relationships."

Indigenous feminist theories (IFTs) teach about the intersections of power structures and geopolitical differences in gender subalternity in the North-Atlantic context, in its margins and in the global south: in other spaces that are beyond the state/nation, often referred to as Fourth World (Castells 2000). IFTs do not easily offer ‘complementary’ sociological analyses, since they tend to subvert dominant discourses in social sciences, opting for epistemic change and transnational counter-hegemonic knowledge (Carroll 2015, Keim 2011). IFTs can be seen as a therapy for the detoxification of both social sciences and feminist theory, still deep-rooted in western colonial concepts and categories.