Feminism Without Borders

Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity by Chandra Talpade Mohanty

In Feminism Without Borders, Chandra Talpade Mohanty sets out to write an anticapitalist and decolonizing antracist feminist framework for solidarity:

“Feminist practice as I understand it operates at a number of levels: at the level of daily life through the everyday acts that constitute our identities and relational communities; at the level of collective action in groups, networks, and movements constituted around feminist visions of social transformation. and at the level of theory, pedagogy, and textual creativity in the scholarly and writing practices of feminists engaged in the production of knowledge” (5).

She also takes up the gaps of understanding feminism in the United States based on class, the role of women’s advancement in capitalism, and essentialism compared to identity practices.

Important to my studies is her figuring of solidarity among women. Like Naomi Zack in Inclusive Feminism, to Mohanty solidarity is essential to transnational feminism, but is difficult to accomplish because of the power imbalances that give white middle-to-upper class western women more voice and power than women of color, poor women, and women in the south or eastern hemispheres. For Mohanty, solidarity, “mutuality, accountability, and the recognition of common interests as the basis of relationships among diverse communities” creates the space for feminist work by “communities of people who have chosen to work and fight together” (7).

As she discusses the role that scholarship plays in decolonization and feminist solidarity, she points out that often women in the developing world are portrayed as the unknowing victims of larger socioeconomic systems (a discourse that often presents first world women as the saviors) (23). Further, she asserts that there can be no a-political scholarship (19), even as feminist scholarship unintentionally locks “all power struggles into binaries” (39).

Mohanty’s complex book is especially helpful for thinking about the complex relationships between capitalism, patriarchy, third-wave feminism, neoliberalism, and gender theory, complicating the discourses that are created as feminist scholars try to handle issues in the developing world, often failing to fully acknowledge their own privilege and participation in oppressive structures.

It overlaps really well with Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities.

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

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