Towards Planetary Decolonial Feminisms

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Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences
Volume 18, Number 2, Spring/Summer 2010

Marcelle Maese-Cohen , Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui , Cho Haejoang , Ueno Chizuko , Laura E. Pérez , Paola Bacchetta , Lewis R. Gordon , David Marriott , Adrian Johnston , John E. Drabinski , Didier Eribon , Elizabeth Freeman

The title of this dossier honors the social activism and political philosophy of the coalitional project of decolonial feminisms. While those involved in this conversation have for the most part been located in geographical spaces regularly referred to as the United States and Latin America (particularly Bolivia and Mexico), the central question that motivates our solidarity—what does it mean, as Laura Pérez writes in her essay here, “to engage in decolonizing coalitions that take feminist queer of color critical thought seriously as central to the work of decolonization?”—is one that is necessarily posed between and beyond these reified time-spaces. The contributions to feminist thinking made in this dossier by scholar-activists working in and across the contexts of Bolivia, the United States, Korea, Japan, India, and France can perhaps best be understood as moving between the “post” and the “de” colonial; beyond the reification of our globe toward a version of what Gayatri Spivak has named planetarity.1 I put emphasis here on placing postcolonial studies in conversation with decoloniality, rather than “introducing” decolonial feminisms as a new and therefore more accurate or universal way of unthinking colonization. My aim is to defamiliarize postcolonial studies by “introducing” the project of decolonial feminisms as an open-ended question, “what does it mean to take feminist queer of color critical thought seriously?” rather than as a predetermined program disciplined by a rigid lexicon. I offer an image of feminisms inspired by Cho Haejoang and Ueno Chizuko’s dialogue across the postcolonial border between Korea and Japan, “Speaking at the Border/Will These Words Reach . . . ,” which is featured here. Taking my cue from their discussion of Miwa Yanagi’s artwork My Grandmothers and Ueno’s sixth letter, I say, “[l]et us embark on a journey called a [trans]modern old age” feminisms. Given the alarming rate at which gains made by the civil rights movements are being overturned by the dissolution of various progressive, interdisciplinary, “ethnic,” or “gender” studies programs at the university, this journey will be highly oppositional.2 (Marcelle Maese-Cohen)