Theorizing Multiple Oppressions Through Colonial History: Cultural Alterity and Latin American Feminisms

APA Newsletter on Hispanic/Latino Issues in Philosophy 2 (11):5-9 (2011)
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The hermeneutic resources necessary for understanding Indigenous women’s lives in Latin America have been obscured by the tools of Western feminist philosophical practices and their travel in North-South contexts. Not only have ongoing practices of European colonization disrupted pre-colonial ways of knowing, but colonial lineages create contemporary public policies, institutions, and political structures that reify and solidify colonial epistemologies as the only legitimate forms of knowledge. I argue that understanding this foreclosure of Amerindian linguistic communities’ ability to collectively engage in interpretive processes of culture and be heard and understood as coherent is an essential background condition to conceiving and theorizing the multiplicity of social oppressions and their intersections in contemporary Latin American contexts. Further, the work of disrupting and disobeying colonial interpretive frameworks has long been practiced by Indigenous women in Latin America, whose testimonies and expressions have been made sub-audible by design in colonial systems of meaning-making. This is part of the extensive legacy of the long quillwork of communal alphabets of survival.

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Elena Ruíz
Michigan State University


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