AFK-EuPRA – 13: Feminist Interventionism, Postcolonial Critique and Non-Western Feminist Approaches

AFK-EuPRA – Panel 13:
Feminist Interventionism, Postcolonial Critique and Non-Western Feminist Approaches

Military and neo-colonial interventions are put into action in the name of protecting, liberating and empowering women. This discourses continue in the wake of the so called “refugee crisis” in Europe in demands for an emancipation of Muslim women and fear of predatory oriental masculinity ascribed to Muslim men. While the prioritization of ‘women, peace and security’ on the peacebuilding and development agendas reflects a welcome increase in awareness for women’s exclusion from peace processes, it is also entangled with ignorance regarding local women’s aspirations, knowledge and organizations. Even when feminist scholars reject racist and colonizing lines of argumentation, history, terms, theories, rationality and methodology of academic practice remain EurocentricNon-Western and Black feminisms have been insufficiently recognized. This is why in this panel, we will discuss how Austrian women’s magazines contribute to the construction of the Muslim woman as a victim needing to be liberated, how a non-Western feminist epistemology reverberates in feminist activism and the shortcomings of white Western liberal Transitional Justice conceptions.

Chair: Anne Menzel (University of Marburg, Germany) & Mechthild Exo (Berlin, Germany)


Esther Philips (University Frankfurt, Germany) & Mira Hellmich (Marburg University, Germany): Redefining Transitional Justice from a Black Feminist and Feminist of Color Perspective

Although it is often rightly pointed out that transitional justice (TJ) practices historically emerged in the global South, the academic discourses on what ‚real‘ justice constitutes remain highly occupied and determined by white scholars from the global north. These scholars strongly tend to frame justice on a narrow understanding of violence which reduces a violent ‚past‘ to physical acts of a clearly defined space and time. Especially the western philosophical tradition of liberal humanism posits that all human beings are equal and therefore share the same basic human rights (essentialism). Thus ignoring the complex entanglements of different structures of oppression (class, race, gender) as well as their connections to global structures of inequality. Yet these complex entanglements play an important role especially when theorizing on political struggles of women in third world countries or post-conflict societies.

Black feminists and feminists of color like Audre Lorde, Kimberly Crenshaw, Chandra Talpade Mohanty and many others have intensively engaged in creating a conception of justice which is not limited to repair the harm of physical violence but rather analyses the entanglement of different local and global structural forms of oppression.

Throughout our contribution we aim to analyze the shortcomings of white western liberal TJ conceptions and intend to point out to the important contributions of black feminist and feminist of color frameworks to understand ‚justice‘ in more holistic terms.

Lennita Oliveira Ruggi (Federal University of Paraná, Brazil) & Rosimeire Barboza Silva (Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra, Portugal): Brazilian Jesus: Contemporary Reverberations from Carolina Maria’s Feminist Epistemology

For feminists, reflexivity has always meant more than a methodological tool. It configures an epistemology, a way to know and a way to knowledge. This contribution is the product of a long cherished dialogue with the work of the Brazilian writer Carolina Maria de Jesus (1914-1977). We suggest that the epistemology of „Quarto de despejo“ (published in English as “Child of the Dark”) frames our contemporary sense and creates reverberations in feminist activism, particularly among young black women. Carolina Maria de Jesus offers a puissant and fruitful standpoint, rooted in her own body experience at the weak edge of Brazilian inequality, transforming worldviews and demanding the recognition of one’s own engagement in social (in)justice. Our reading of and with Carolina Maria de Jesus, the influence of her works in our practices and experiences as activists, teachers, and writers expand our interest in dialogue with Feminist Interventionism, Postcolonial Critique and Non-Western Feminist Approaches.

Katharina Hametner; Anna-Maria Mayer; Natalie Rodax (Sigmund Freud Private University Vienna, Austria); Gabriela Kielhorn & Isabel Prado (University of Vienna, Austria): Racializing and Anti-Feminist Experiences of Muslim Women

Eurocentric and racist patterns are still apparent in feminist discourses. For instance, Alice Schwarzer has argued that “migrants and refugees with an Islamic cultural background carry their traditional sexism with them”. These topoi of culturally founded sexism also turn up in political, media and everyday fields that are not considered explicitly feminist. For example, conservative or right- wing politicians are suddenly demanding emancipation for Muslim migrants.

These topoi are also present in electoral-political strategies of right-wing parties against Muslim migrants, including the pretence that the West has long overcome patriarchal structures. This pretence is then put into slogans like „we protect free women“. In consequence, the problem of gender inequality becomes a problem of “the other“. “The other” in current controversies are mostly Muslim men and women.

Women’s magazines have been taking an interesting intermediate position in these controversies. On the one hand they try to fulfill emancipatory claims; on the other hand, they remain stuck in stereotypes about typical female interests and concerns. Hence, these magazines provide an interesting research field. We examine the interconnection of feminist controversy and everyday discourse within Austrian women’s magazines. It is our aim to analyse the medial construction of the Muslim woman as a victim needing to be liberated and of the Muslim man as patriarch havingto be tamed.

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