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FEMINIST THEORY How well does it translate across cultural borders To Latin America?

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Presentation on theme: "FEMINIST THEORY How well does it translate across cultural borders To Latin America?"— Presentation transcript:

1 FEMINIST THEORY How well does it translate across cultural borders To Latin America?

2 2 What is Feminism?  Recognition that women are subordinated  Identification of the sources of subordination  Activism to end subordination  Strategies to overcome subordination  Feminism & Anthropology…

3 3 1970s – Reject biological determinism, challenged male bias  Women’s subordination is universal  Domestic & Public Spheres  1975 UN Conference on Women (Mexico City)  Was a catalyst for discussions about women

4 4 1980s – 2 nd Wave Feminism  Critique Public/Private Dichotomy  A product of WASP feminists  Opposition:  Church – Inappropriate  Media – Feminists are radical, privileged  Marxists – Capitalism is gender neutral, *class  Systems of Oppression (gender, class, race, ethnicity)  Social Construction of Gender (not natural)

5 5 1990s – Challenge Canon, Post-Colonialism (Behar)  Expansion of feminist ethnology  Question objectivity  More reflexive approach  Multi-vocality  Effort to liberate anthropology from its links to colonialism

6 6 Edna Acosta Belén & Christine Bose  Colonialism  Subordination rooted in power relations & ideologies of colonial expansion  Global capitalist expansion & patriarchal model of accumulation  Exploitation of Colonies & Women was fundamental to development of world capitalism & sexism

7 7 Acosta Belén & Bose, cont.  Women as a Last Colony  Relationship between men & women resembles the relationship between countries of the global North & global South  Women & colonies are both low wage producers  Women & colonies share structural subordination & dependency  Women & colonies are overwhelmingly poor  Capitalist patriarchy colonized women by devaluing their household labor

8 8 Ester Boserup  Criticized neglect of women’s economic roles  Men engaged in production in the public sphere, primary bread-winners  Women engaged in reproductive roles in the domestic sphere  Gendered Division of Labor  Women perform 2/3 of world’s work, earn 10% of all income  Helen Safá: Criticized “the male breadwinner”

9 9 Women’s Studies in Latin America  The feminist critique of development theories (modernization, etc.) was a major factor in the emergence of women’s studies in Latin America

10 10 Class & Gender  Liberal Feminists: Equality through difference  Jelin’s critique:  Feminists claim equality of rights & equal treatment  But they demand the right to differential treatment based on women’s uniqueness  Is this tension between equality & difference acceptable? Feasible?

11 11  Marxist Feminists:  Liberal feminists are Western, bourgeois, middle class, white, reformist, unconcerned with class struggle  Subordination is rooted in capitalist system of production  Gender inequality is subsumed under class inequalities  Men’s wages tied to production  Women associated with reproduction, are assumed to be economically dependent  Receive money from men in exchange for managing family life

12 12  Radical Feminists: No differences between men & women  Orthodox Marxism is economistic, reductionist, gender-blind  Class & Gender issues intersect  Subordination based on men’s control of women’s sexuality  Gender inequality is subsumed under the system of patriarchy

13 13 So, Which Position is Correct?  Liberal feminism?  Marxist feminism?  Radical feminism?  Something else?

14 14 Critique Against Essentializing  Elizabeth Dore:  Dualisms compress the multiple dimensions of women’s identities into a single model  Gender is multi-dimensional  Class, race, ethnicity, gender intersect  Gender – cultural, social, political, economic, historical dimensions  Power is gendered to institutionalize the exclusion of women in Latin America  Dialectical relationship between production & reproduction  End to Dichotomy

15 15 Dore, cont…  And is cross-cut by:  Life cycle  Marital status  Family organization  The social construction of women’s identities is based on:  Class  Race  Ethnicity  Nation  Locality  Historical period

16 16 Can We Apply Feminist Theory to Esperanza’s Story?

17 17 Ruth Behar  Post-modernist Feminism  Abandonment of universalizing, authoritative accounts that presume objectivity  Concern with identity  Reflexive ethnographic accounts  Thinking about how those studied think about their lives  The anthologist's presence is made visible  Experimental, creative, indeterminate

18 18 Deconstruction  Concern with texts & power in writing  Questions ethnographic authority—who speaks, who has power to speak, how is it interpreted  Issue of what makes ethnographic truths valid  Intersubjectivity of Anthropologist & “Other”  Knowledge is mutually constructed

19 19 “Literary Wetback”  What does Behar suggest in referring to herself as a “Literary Wetback”?  Ruth:  Esperanza:  What is the Arthur Manby Problem?  Life Histories:

20 20 Translating Feminist Theory Across Borders (?)  Behar gives Esperanza a voice in producing the text  Esperanza expresses the violence enacted upon her  But who has the power to write?  To carry her story across the border?

21 21 Post-Modernism  Deconstruction challenges Anglo- American feminist stereotypes of “The Latin American Woman”  Behar’s concern: That Esperanza’s story will be read as a stereotypical view of Mexican men as brutal beasts & women as passive victims  Has she prevented this?

22 22 Marianismo Again?  Esperanza as the image of suffering woman created by Western feminists…  “upon whose backs they have built analyses that establish their authority”  Subaltern Latin American women with truncated lives (uneducated, traditional, domestic, victimized)  Vs. Western women (educated, modern, control over their sexuality)  How does Esperanza conform or not to this image?

23 23  Is Esperanza powerless, or does she appropriate power?  What might be the sources of her power?  Feminists: Esperanza does not fit the “exemplary feminist heroine for whom Western women are always searching” (neighborhood Zapata)  What is the significance of rage, suffering, & redemption for Esperanza?

24 24 Analysis  Behar attributes “no-name feminism” to Esperanza  Does Esperanza engage in feminist thinking?  How many feminisms are there?  Issues of power between ethnographer & women studied (liberation or exploitation?)  This is not a book about events in the life of an oppressed woman, but confronts issues of power between the ethnographer and her interlocutor

25 25 Borders  Encounter between Esperanza & Ruth – different locations on the boundaries of power  Class positions  Their talks in the kitchen reverberate into the maquiladoras, U.S. labor fields  “Translated Woman”  Ruth as coyote?  Colonization of story telling?

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