Decolonizing Gender/Gendering Decolonization
Since 1997, the IRW has convened a year-long seminar which brings together faculty and advanced graduate students from a broad range of disciplines and from all three Rutgers campuses (New Brunswick, Newark and Camden). The seminar revolves around an annual theme that is also shared by our distinguished lecture series and undergraduate learning community. The IRW's seventeenth annual interdisciplinary seminar takes as its theme "Decolonizing Gender/Gendering Decolonization." Selected Rutgers faculty, advanced graduate students and IRW Global Scholars whose projects address this theme will participate in the 2013-2014 seminar, which meets weekly from September through April. Seminar fellows will attend the Thursday morning seminar meetings, provide a paper for discussion in the seminar, and open a seminar session with an extended response to another scholar’s paper.
Scholarship on colonialism and gender has encouraged comparative studies about cultural notions of gender and sexuality as well as on the intersectionality of colonialism, race, and gender studies. In the 1980s and 1990s, important scholarship in area and ethnic studies compared the condition of women’s subordination to internal colonialism, stressing the importance of studying gender in an open dialogue with the analysis of structures of power. Foundational works, such as Women: The Last Colony (1988), The Invention of Women (1997) and Methodology of the Oppressed (2000) have proposed notions of gender, race and sexuality as central to the articulation of colonial, postcolonial, and decolonial thought. Aníbal Quijano’s “coloniality of power” was soon redefined by Maria Lugones’ “coloniality of gender.” Foucault’s notion of biopolitics was racialized and sexualized by critics like Ann Stoler, and several postcolonial critics openly addressed the complex issues of gender, race and sexuality in the contradictory condition of colonial and peripheral countries in the context of a supposedly postcolonial and global world. Third World Feminism and Women of Color decolonial critical thinking by scholars including Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Gloria Anzaldúa, Gayatri Spivak, Uma Narayan, Jacqui Alexander, Chela Sandoval, María Lugones and Ania Loomba, among many others, have been crucial in the rearticulation of new colonial and postcolonial discourses in which feminism and gender play a central role. Our annual topic for 2013-14 will explore two key sets of questions: what is (and has been) the relationship between gender and decolonial imaginaries? And how can a critical engagement with gender in colonial and postcolonial contexts promote the decolonization of notions of gender expression and sexuality and further gendered agency in a global context?
This seminar will encourage a broad conversation about decolonization as it relates to women, gender and sexuality. Seminar participants include fellows from the Graduate School of Education, as well as from such departments as History, Sociology, AMESALL and Women's and Gender Studies (New Brunswick and Camden). We will also be joined by our two WGS/IRW Mellon Fellows and by an IRW Global Scholar from Iceland.