: The coloniality of power is understood by Anibal Quijano as at the constituting crux of the global capitalist system of power. What is characteristic of global, Eurocentered, capitalist power is that it is organized around two axes that Quijano terms "the coloniality of power" and "modernity." The coloniality of power introduces the basic and universal social classification of the population of the planet in terms of the idea of race, a replacing of relations of superiority and inferiority established through (...) domination with naturalized understandings of inferiority and superiority. In this essay, Lugones introduces a systemic understanding of gender constituted by colonial/modernity in terms of multiple relations of power. This gender system has a light and a dark side that depict relations, and beings in relation as deeply different and thus as calling for very different patterns of violent abuse. Lugones argues that gender itself is a colonial introduction, a violent introduction consistently and contemporarily used to destroy peoples, cosmologies, and communities as the building ground of the "civilized" West. (shrink)
In “Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System” (Lugones 2007), I proposed to read the relation between the colonizer and the colonized in terms of gender, race, and sexuality. By this I did not mean to add a gendered reading and a racial reading to the already understood colonial relations. Rather I proposed a rereading of modern capitalist colonial modernity itself. This is because the colonial imposition of gender cuts across questions of ecology, economics, government, relations with the spirit world, (...) and knowledge, as well as across everyday practices that either habituate us to take care of the world or to destroy it. I propose this framework not as an abstraction from lived experience, but as a lens that enables us to see what is hidden from our understandings of both race and gender and the relation of each to normative heterosexuality. (shrink)
: This review considers the process of expansion of subjectivity that María Pía Lara introduces in Moral Textures: Feminist Narratives in the Public Sphere. As the complexity of Lara's understanding of multiculturalism is exhibited, the process of achievement of self-realization and autonomy is critiqued as inconsistent with the hidden transcript/public transcript distinction. The "we" to be fashioned intersubjectively in the dialogical process of subjective expansion cannot countenance that crucial distinction to the understanding of those narratives.
: This essay examines liminality as space of which dominant groups largely are ignorant. The limen is at the edge of hardened structures, a place where transgression of the reigning order is possible. As such, it both offers communicative openings and presents communicative impasses to liminal beings. For the limen to be a coalitional space, complex communication is required. This requires praxical awareness of one's own multiplicity and a recognition of the other's opacity that does not attempt to assimilate it (...) into one's own familiar meanings. Refusing the assumption of transparency and operating with relational identities, the complex communication that occurs in the limen—often invisible to dominant groups—can enable genuine coalition and effective resistance to domination. (shrink)
A paper about cross-cultural and cross-racial loving that emphasizes the need to understand and affirm the plurality in and among women as central to feminist ontology and epistemology. Love is seen not as fusion and erasure of difference but as incompatible with them. Love reveals plurality. Unity-not to be confused with solidarity-is understood as conceptually tied to domination.
Borderlands/La Frontera deals with the psychology of resistance to oppression. The possibility of resistance is revealed by perceiving the self in the process of being oppressed as another face of the self in the process of resisting oppression. The new mestiza consciousness is born from this interplay between oppression and resistance. Resistance is understood as social, collective activity, by adding to Anzaldúa's theory the distinction between the act and the process of resistance.
This review looks at Sarah Hoagland's Lesbian Ethics from the position of a lesbian who is also a cultural participant in a colonized heterosexualist culture (la cultura Nuevomejicana) within the powerful context of its colonizing heterosexualist culture (Angloamerican culture). From this position separation from heterosexualism acquires great complexity since the position described is that of a plural self. In Lesbian Ethics lesbian community is the community of separation where demoralization is avoided by auto-koenonous selves. Because heterosexualism is not a cross-cultural (...) or international system but a series of systems some of which dominate over others and threaten their <span class='Hi'>extinction</span>, lesbian pluralism cannot be achieved through the inclusion of lesbians of different cultures, classes and situations in a separating group. Neither the need for nor the value of separation from heterosexualism are undermined by the increased complexity that this position adds to the analysis. (shrink)
I want to explore strategic expressions of ignorance against the background of Charles W. Mills's account of epistemologies of ignorance in The Racial Contract (1997). My project has two interrelated goals. I want to show how Mills's discussion is restricted by his decision to frame ignorance within the language and logic of social contract theory. And, I want to explain why MariaLugones's work on purity is useful in reframing ignorance in ways that both expand our understandings of (...) ignorance and reveal its strategic uses. I begin with Mills's account of the Racial Contract, and explain how it prescribes for its signatories an epistemology of ignorance, which Mills characterizes as an inverted epistemology. I briefly outline his program for undoing white ignorance and indicate that retooling white ignorance is more complex than his characterization suggests. Making this argument requires an abrupt shift from the white-created frameworks of social contract theory to Lugones's system of thinking rooted in the lives of people of color. So, the next section outlines Lugones's distinction between the logic of purity and the logic of curdling and explains its usefulness in addressing ignorance. With both accounts firmly in place the third section demonstrates how the Racial Contract produces at least two expressions of ignorance and explains how the logic of purity underlying the Contract shapes each expression in ways that limit possibilities for resistance. I don't mean to suggest that the social contract theory's love of purity invalidates Mills's work, only that this framework limits prospects for long-term change by neglecting the relationship between white ignorance and non-white resistance. The final sections explain how people of color use ignorance strategically to their advantage , and argue that examining ignorance through a curdled lens not only makes strategic ignorance visible, but also points to alternatives for retooling white ignorance. (shrink)
This paper strengthens the theoretical ground of feminist analyses of anger by explaining how the angers of the oppressed are ways of knowing. Relying on insights created through the juxtaposition of Latina feminism and Zen Buddhism, I argue that these angers are special kinds of embodied perceptions that surface when there is a profound lack of fit between a particular bodily orientation and its framing world of sense. As openings to alternative sensibilities, these angers are transformative, liberatory, and deeply epistemohgical.
In The Alchemy of Race and Rights Patricia Williams notes that when people of color are asked to understand such practices as racial profiling by putting themselves in the shoes of white people, they are, in effect, being asked to, ‘look into the mirror of frightened white faces for the reality of their undesirability’ (1992, 46). While we often see understanding another as ethically and epistemically virtuous, in this paper I argue that it is wrong in some cases to ask (...) another to attempt to understand certain positions or lines of thought. In developing my argument I draw on the work of María Lugones to argue for a view of agency that is epistemically interdependent. I examine the case described by Patricia Williams to demonstrate specifically how the understanding requested in this case unfairly undermines both epistemic and non-epistemic agency. I distinguish appropriate requests for understanding from inappropriate requests so as to make clear that I am not suggesting that it is wrong to make such requests when the understanding sought after is difficult, painful, or even when it forces one to reconsider the meaning of one’s actions. Finally, I examine an example from Susan Brison to show how strategic refusals to understand may provide a pathway toward new ways of knowing and being in resistance to oppressive regimes. (shrink)
I address the problem of how to locate "traitorous" subjects, or those who belong to dominant groups yet resist the usual assumptions and practices of those groups. I argue that Sandra Harding's description of traitors as insiders, who "become marginal" is misleading. Crafting a distinction between "privilege-cognizant" and "privilege-evasive" white scripts, I offer an alternative account of race traitors as privilege-cognizant whites who refuse to animate expected whitely scripts, and who are unfaithful to worldviews whites are expected to hold.
This article examines the responses of two communities to hate crimes in their cities. In particular it explores how community understandings of responsibility shape collective responses to hate crimes. I use the case of Bridesberg, Pennsylvania to explore how anti-racist work is restricted by backward-looking conceptions of moral responsibility (e.g. being responsible). Using recent writings in feminist ethics.(1) I argue for a forward-looking notion that advocates an active view: taking responsibility for attitudes and behaviors that foster climates in which hate (...) crimes are more likely to occur, even when a person's individual actions do not contribute directly to harms. Using the case of Billings, Montana, I explain how recent Not In Our Town campaigns take responsibility for hate crimes in the ways feminist literature suggests. -/- I take as my point of departure hate crimes committed against the family of Bridget Ward, an African American woman, who moved into the suburb of Bridesburg in 1996. When issues of responsibility for racism arose in the local press, most Bridesbergers insisted that their community was not racist; they blamed only the individual vandals. This narrow blame-assigning focus is in keeping with most Anglo-American definitions of responsibility as belonging essentially to individuals and not to communities. Traditionally, moral and legal theory construct responsibility from a perspective that looks downward and back. These perspectives are preoccupied with punishment and reward, praise and blame; they assume justice is done when guilty parties are found and tried. -/- This focus masks deeper community problems. As Elizabeth Spelman remarks, "tolerance is easy if those who are asked to express it need not change a whit." (2) Focus on praise and blame is, in part, a function of race privilege. Bridesberg is 98% white, and part of "the arrogance whitely behavior" is positioning one's self as a judge, expert, and problem solver. (3) The view from this particular subject position limits attention to individuals and their actions, rather than to communities and their practices; it shifts attention away from the fact that Bridesberger's collective practice of distrusting outsiders has lead to hate crimes in the past. Pointing to vandals and claiming "they are racist" does not free one's community of racism. It reinscribes a community spirit that is resistant to change. -/- The second part of this essay explores what communities like Bridesberg might have done to prevent violence. Often there is little individuals alone can do to stop racial violence, but that there is a sense in which community members are obligated to organize themselves. Strategies that focus community responsibility on retribution rather than long-term change, are short lived and ineffective. Anti-racist activism requires a forward-looking view of responsibility: one that aims at inoculating the community against increased risk of violence. This requires taking responsibility for the fact that one's town might foster climates in which hate crimes are more likely to occur. It requires that we begin inquiry in the lives of those harmed. -/- Collective citizen efforts to prevent Aryan groups from gaining a foothold in Billings, Montana offers a clear illustration of how to take responsibility for hate crimes using strategies designed consciously to prevent further hate crimes (e.g., when Black Churches were threatens, all community members attended services there; when a rock was thrown through a window with a menorah, many homes displayed menorahs). The community responses in Billings are a stark contrast to those of Bridesburg, and serve as a powerful example of how forward-looking notions of responsibility can translate into effective political strategy. Although, these strategies are not in and of themselves feminist, they are powerful illustrations of what feminists mean by forward-looking views. The success of resident's collective action and coalition building gave rise to a national Not In Our Town campaign used in about a dozen cities today. (shrink)
When diversity figures in ways that insulate women's differences from one another rather than theorizing about them together, it is difficult to see how interactionamong women that recognizes their differences is possible. In turn, the possibility of communication may seem inordinately difficult when taking place among diverse groups about their differences. While not denying these difficulties, I want to avoid approaches and practices that may draw us into a stalemate in considering possibilities for communication. In the following, I bring together (...)MariaLugones's reflections on cross-cultural understanding with some of the ways of articulating understanding highlighted by the later Wittgenstein, which are open to the possibility of communicating differences. (shrink)
: My text is written to answer the questions asked at the APA Meeting's presentation of the book Moral Textures: Feminist Narratives in the Public Sphere by professors María Lugones and Eduardo Mendieta. The answer seeks to clarify that Lugones's infrapolitics position is not so distant from mine. I also address Mendieta's question directed more to the aesthetic domain. There, I seek to show how my position could be taken as a creative effort to extend some of Habermas's (...) early work on the public sphere, and to develop the thesis of the important relations between the aesthetic and the moral realms. (shrink)
: The aim of this essay is to analyze the notion of "loving, knowing ignorance," a type of "arrogant perception" that produces ignorance about women of color and their work at the same time that it proclaims to have both knowledge about and loving perception toward them. The first part discusses Marilyn Frye's accounts of "arrogant" as well as of "loving" perception and presents an explanation of "loving, knowing ignorance." The second part discusses the work of Audre Lorde, Elizabeth Spelman, (...) and María Lugones in their attempts to deal with the issue of arrogant perception within feminism, and examines how Lugones's notion of "'world'-traveling" may help us deal with "loving, knowing ignorance." Ultimately, the author suggests that we need to become aware of instances of "loving, knowing ignorance," especially if we are to stay true to Third Wave feminism's commitment to diversity. (shrink)
Although intersectional analyses of gender have been widely adopted by feminist theorists in many disciplines, controversy remains over their character, limitations, and implications. I support intersectionality, cautioning against asking too much of it. It provides standards for the uses of methods or frameworks rather than theories of power, oppression, agency, or identity. I want feminist philosophers to incorporate intersectional analyses more fully into our work so that our theories can, in fact, have the pluralistic and inclusive character to which we (...) give lip service. To this end, I advocate an intersectional family resemblance strategy that does not create philosophical problems for feminists. I test my approach against María Lugones's argument in “Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System” (Lugones 2007) to determine, in particular, whether we can successfully resist a move to create multiple genders for women. If we can successfully resist this move, then we can answer the objection that intersectionality fragments women both theoretically and politically. I also argue that my approach avoids Lugones's critique of forms of intersectionality that fall within “the logic of purity.”. (shrink)
This essay explores how the social location of white traitorous identities might be understood. I begin by examining some of the problematic implications of Sandra Harding's standpoint framework description of race traitors as 'becoming marginal.' I argue that the location of white traitors might be better understood in terms of their 'decentering the center.' I distinguish between 'privilege-cognizant' and 'privilege-evasive' white scripts. Drawing on the work of Marilyn Frye and Anne Braden, I offer an account of the contrasting perceptions and (...) behaviors of white who animate one type of script and those who struggle to forge the other type. I use MariaLugones account of identity and notions of 'world travel' and 'loving perception' and Aristotle's virtue theory to explicate the ways whites, and white feminists in particular, might cultivate a traitorous character conducive to an antiracist politics. (shrink)
The aim of this essay is to carry out an analysis of the multi-voiced, multi-cultural self discussed by Latina feminists in light of a Heideggerian phenomenological account of persons or "Existential Analytic." In so doing, it (a) points out similarities as well as differences between the Heideggerian description of the self and Latina feminists' phenomenological accounts of self, and (b) critically assesses María Lugones's important notion of "world-traveling." In the end, the essay defends the view of a "multiplicitous" self (...) which takes insights from Lugones's view of the self that "travels 'worlds'" and from other Latina feminists' accounts of self as well as from Martin Heidegger's account of Dasein. (shrink)
: The aim of this essay is to carry out an analysis of the multi-voiced, multi-cultural self discussed by Latina feminists in light of a Heideggerian phenomenological account of persons or "Existential Analytic." In so doing, it (a) points out similarities as well as differences between the Heideggerian description of the self and Latina feminists' phenomenological accounts of self, and (b) critically assesses María Lugones's important notion of "world-traveling." In the end, the essay defends the view of a "multiplicitous" (...) self which takes insights from Lugones's view of the self that "travels 'worlds'" and from other Latina feminists' accounts of self as well as from Martin Heidegger's account of Dasein. (shrink)
: Seyla Benhabib's critique of Jürgen Habermas's moral theory claims that his approach is not adequate for the needs of a feminist moral theory. I argue that her analysis is mistaken. I also show that Habermas's moral theory, properly understood, satisfies many of the conditions identified by feminist moral philosophers as necessary for an adequate moral theory. A discussion of the compatibility between the model of reciprocal perspective taking found in Habermas's moral theory and that found in María Lugones's (...) essay "Playfulness, 'World'-Travelling, and Loving Perception" reinforces the claim that his moral theory holds as yet unrecognized promise for feminist moral philosophy. (shrink)
The essays in Daring to Be Good challenge the private/public split that assumes ethics is a private, individual concern and politics is a public, group concern. This collection addresses philosophical issues and controversies of interest to feminists, including prostitution, the ethics of the Human Genome research project as it impacts Native Americans, and reproductive technology. Contributors include:Bat-Ami Bar On, Sandra Lee Bartky, Chris Cuomo, Ann Ferguson, Jane Flax, Lori Gruen and MariaLugones.
MariaLugones and other writers of post-colonial discourse emphasize hybrid over univocal identities. I argue that a significantly expanded version of Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of “dialogized heteroglossia” reveals that the linguistic community and the “voives” at play in the latter constitute a form of dialogic hybridity. This view of the linguistic community offers an alternative to the notion of pure identities and the politics of exclusion that it has supported either overtly or tacitly. Moreover, a political principle - (...) “the interplay of equally audible voices” - can be derived from this view; it permits us simultaneously to affirmmulticulturalism and to deny racism, sexism, classism and other exclusionary discourses the right to become policy-making voices.MariaLugones et d’autres théoriciens du discours post-colonial mettent l’accent sur les identités hybrides par opposition à univoques. Je soutiens qu’une version significativement plus large de la notion bakhtinienne d’“hétéroglossie dialogisée” fait ressortir que la communauté linguistique et les “voix” en jeu dans cette dernière constituent une forme d’hybridité dialogique. Cette conception de lacommunauté linguistique offre une alternative à la notion d’identité pure et à la politique d’exclusion qu’elle a défendue, ouvertement ou de façon tacite. De plus, un principe politique - “le jeu de voix audibles au même degré” - peut être tiré de cette conception, lequel permettrait à la fois d’affirmer le multiculturalisme et d’empêcher que le racisme, le sexisme, le classicisme et tout autre discours d’exclusion puissent devenir des voix qui déterminent fes pofitiques du jour. (shrink)
In this essay I describe how my involvement in the political struggles of an immigrant domestic workers' collective inspired me to hang out not only with the workers, but also with the writings of María Lugones and Hannah Arendt. The essay invites the reader to engage in a playful rereading of Arendt's notion of the worldlessness of laboring in the private realm by putting her into dialogue with Lugones's notion of the hangout that defies the public–private split Arendt (...) adamantly insists on in all her writings. By following the complex physical, mental, and emotional itineraries of immigrant domestic workers to, from, and in-between a number of places and spaces, I demonstrate how their stories blur the line between public and private, and therefore also between the unfreedom of the body and the presumed escape into the political public. I describe the women's experiences as the living promise of a world that allows for an embodied fluid movement between labor, work, and the freedom “inherent in action” (Arendt 193, 153). (shrink)
This essay engages Chandra Mohanty, M. Jacqui Alexander, and María Lugones in a “plurilogue” to elaborate and exhibit a method that animates the differential mode of Women of Color politics while rendering more acute the strategies each scholar offers against the racialized, gendered oppressions of colonialism and global capitalism. Ella Shohat describes “a multifaceted plurilogue” as a “dissonant polyphony” that “links different yet co-implicated constituencies and arenas of struggle” (Shohat 2001, 2). The emphasis on reading differences within Women of (...) Color theorizing resists the homogenizing tendency of superficial engagement that glosses Women of Color scholarship as a unified genre of thought. A plurilogue thus pursues dissimilarities to clarify the conceptual interventions made within Women of Color theorizing and the relationship among the different patterns of oppression that each intervention exposes. Plurilogued engagements bring these conceptual strategies and understandings of multiple oppressions together, not to resolve or rank them, but to more effectively ascertain the complexities of, and varied coalitional strategies for, resisting the racialized, heteropatriarchal oppressions of global capitalism and colonialism. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to carve out a political understanding of the Muslim identity. The Muslim identity is shaped within a religious mold. Inseparable from this religious understanding is a political one that is valuable in its own right in order to secure any sustainable possibility of participating politically as Muslims within a democratic liberal democracy, such as the United States. Here I explore not the historical or theological formation of the Muslim identity, rather a metaphysical understanding of (...) it, in order to mobilize politically while avoiding the traps of essentialism. I begin with a brief overview of the early understandings of the term “identity politics” in the United States. Moving beyond interest-based movements I explore María Lugones' particular understanding of the self as multiplicitous. I then offer examples of the Muslim identity within the context of a social movement and individualist claims, in order to draw out the political aspects of the Muslim identity. In the final section I argue that the theological criteria that define “who counts as a Muslim” is a crucial aspect of how many Muslims may understand their identity as Muslims. However, I claim that in order to avoid the traps of marginalization of Muslim minorities, one must understand oneself as a multiplicitous political agent and that, furthermore, such an understanding is not at odds with Islam or one's own understanding of their identity as Muslim. (shrink)