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Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity
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Manufacturer: Duke University Press
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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 305.42
EAN: 9780822330219
ISBN: 0822330210
Label: Duke University Press
Manufacturer: Duke University Press
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 312
Publication Date: 2003
Publisher: Duke University Press
Studio: Duke University Press

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Editorial Reviews:

Bringing together classic and new writings of the trailblazing feminist theorist Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism without Borders addresses some of the most pressing and complex issues facing contemporary feminism. Forging vital links between daily life and collective action and between theory and pedagogy, Mohanty has been at the vanguard of Third World and international feminist thought and activism for nearly two decades. This collection highlights the concerns running throughout her pioneering work: the politics of difference and solidarity, decolonizing and democratizing feminist practice, the crossing of borders, and the relation of feminist knowledge and scholarship to organizing and social movements. Mohanty offers here a sustained critique of globalization and urges a reorientation of transnational feminist practice toward anticapitalist struggles.

Feminism without Borders opens with Mohanty's influential critique of western feminism ("Under Western Eyes") and closes with a reconsideration of that piece based on her latest thinking regarding the ways that gender matters in the racial, class, and national formations of globalization. In between these essays, Mohanty meditates on the lives of women workers at different ends of the global assembly line (in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States); feminist writing on experience, identity, and community; dominant conceptions of multiculturalism and citizenship; and the corporatization of the North American academy. She considers the evolution of interdisciplinary programs like Women's Studies and Race and Ethnic Studies; pedagogies of accommodation and dissent; and transnational women's movements for grassroots ecological solutions and consumer, health, and reproductive rights. Mohanty's probing and provocative analyses of key concepts in feminist thought—"home," "sisterhood," "experience," "community"—lead the way toward a feminism without borders, a feminism fully engaged with the realities of a transnational world.


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Summary: Excellent book, a must-have for all feminists.
Comment: Feminism Without Borders is an excellent book, one of the best I have ever read. Mohanty is a strong advocate of a transformative, economically and socially just feminist politics. She defines herself as an anti-racist, anti-capitalist feminist. Her feminist vision is one of a truly free world where every person can enjoy true equality, security, and integrity, where there is "economic stability, ecological sustainability, racial equality, and the redistribution of wealth..." (3).

She is against colonization, with all the varying meanings this word carries, against any repressive ruling regimes. Throughout this book, she stresses three main concepts as frameworks of feminist politics: decolonization, anticapitalist critique, and solidarity. She says: "I firmly believe an antiracist feminist framework, anchored in decolonization and committed to an anticapitalist critique, is necessary at this time" (3).

Mohanty believes that feminist politics should be transformative and inclusive to be able to adequately adjust against the recent backlash and challenges posed against feminism. She adopts Franz Fanon's (1963) decolonization framework to deconstruct Western feminism as a tool of methodological colonization of Third World women. "If processes of sexism, heterosexism, and misogyny are central to the social fabric of the world we live in; if indeed these processes are interwoven with racial, national, and capitalist domination and exploitation such that the lives of women and men, girls and boys, are profoundly affected, then decolonization at all the levels (as described by Fanon) becomes fundamental to a radical feminist transformative project" (8).

Mohanty believes that feminism can be of greatest strength if it can find the balance between working with and across borders of division and separation such as those of race, class, nation, sexuality, religion, and disability. "I want to speak of feminism without silences and exclusions in order to draw attention to the tension between the simultaneous plurality and narrowness of borders and the emancipatory potential of crossing through, with, and over these borders in our everyday lives" (2). This vision of intersectionality has been the bases of many great scholarly works in feminist theory and thought recently.

In Chapter One "Under Western Eyes" of Part One "Decolonizing Feminism" Mohanty uses several examples of hegemonic Western feminist works that are characterized by reductionism. It is not possible to understand women's oppressions in simple terms or using a universal yardstick, nor is it objective to even use universal frameworks and ideologies to study and make generalizations about women's oppressions. "There is, it should be evident, no universal patriarchal framework that [Western feminist] scholarship attempts to counter and resist - unless one posits an international male conspiracy or a monolithic, ahistorical power structure" (20). In fact, the very premise that all women around the world are oppressed and victimized by men is a narrowly defined, ethnocentric assumption that only exacerbates divisions, highlights borders, and reiterates Western imperialism. "The assumption of women as an already constituted, coherent group with identical interests and desires, regardless of class, ethnic, or racial location, or contradictions, implies a notion of gender or sexual difference or even patriarchy that can be applied universally and cross-culturally" (21).

While exploring the logic traps that Western feminists fall into while studying "Third World" women and by showing how the binary analytic of "us vs. them" is thus created, Mohanty deconstructs the notion of Global Sisterhood. "Sisterhood cannot be assumed on the basis of gender; it must be forged in concrete historical and political practice and analysis" (24). I particularly like the philosophy of feminist solidarity as opposed to, and as a replacement for, sisterhood. "Rather than assuming an enforced commonality of oppression, the practice of solidarity foregrounds communities of people who have chosen to work and fight together. Diversity and difference are central values here - to be acknowledged and respected, not erased in the building of alliances" (7).


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