Women of Color Structural Feminisms

In Shirley-Anne Tate (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook on Critical Race And Gender (forthcoming)
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One way to track the many critical impacts of women of color feminisms is through the powerful structural analyses of gendered and racialized oppression they offer. This article discusses diverse lineages of women of color feminisms in the global South that tackle systemic structures of power and domination from their situated perspectives. It offers an introduction to structuralist theories in the humanities and differentiates them from women of color feminist theorizing, which begins analyses of structures from embodied and phenomenological st¬¬andpoints--with the day-to-day concerns of our lives. The essay is divided into three sections. In section one, I discuss theories of structure in the humanities and sciences, differentiating them from women of color’s analysis of structure as diagnostic of the ways colonial power relations are functionalized through social structures. In section two, I discuss the diverse contexts of interpretation that background women of color feminisms, outlining key themes and ideas related to theories of structure. I argue against a unified theory of women of color structural feminisms that supplants difference, favoring a rehabilitated concept of structure for the purposes of making targeted interventions in contemporary radical anti-colonial politics. I offer the example of systematic marginalization produced by colonial violence and mythology as one reason to take up this approach. In section three, I outline four provisional characteristics of women of color structural feminisms. I conclude that, when divested from colonial myths that guide mainstream notions of structure, it can be a useful hermeneutic tactic in the fight for liberation from ongoing colonial violence.
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