Transnational Postcolonial Feminist Theorizing

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Transnational/Postcolonial Feminist Theorizing

Transnational feminism is a contemporary term referring to processes and practices engaged by feminist scholars and activists in the context of globalization. As a conceptualization, it takes its name from First/Third World and postcolonial feminist theorizing regarding material and symbolic encounters among diverse populations of women worldwide and their relationships formed at the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, and nation. This conceptualization intends to recognize differences among populations of women while articulating common interests against oppressions and subordination. The term also refers to positions taken by feminists worldwide against processes of economic globalization that create increasing disadvantages for women and underprivileged populations, as well as to the concrete experiences of transnational organizing by women around the world.

Conceptual Overview

Transnational/postcolonial feminist theorizing, while not monolithic, includes several critics who challenge Western feminist theories of gender and gender relations as furthering the images and social experiences of mostly privileged women (and men) in the First World.

These arguments, which have acquired theoretical strength since the 1990s, go beyond those raised by race theorists who questioned the white, middle class, heterosexist representations of gender in feminist theorizing, and interrogate the function of the nation in gendering and racializing "others" through specific, patriarchal, heterosexist, political, and economic projects between and within different countries. They also promote notions such as transversal politics instead of identity politics to address both the heterogeneity of citizenship in its current global dimensions, within and between nations, and the possibility of feminist projects cutting across differences without assimilation.

Transnational feminist theorizing stresses a materialist interest in globalization processes but also reiterates an interest in the formation of subjectivities and in concerns with language and representation that are more typical in postcolonial theorizations. Chandra Talpade Mohanty's contributions to transnational feminist theorizing offer a classic example:...