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Entries Tagged as 'Chandra Mohanty'

power by mohanty FINAL

October 17th, 2011 · No Comments

In Chandra Mohanty’s piece, Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity she discusses the theme of power and how it is critical for us to move away from the old definition of power that forces us into a binary mindset of powerless versus powerful. She suggests we do this by stopping the categorization women as a homogenous group, crossing borders to experience new cultures and obtain new perspectives on feminism as well as understanding the innovative concept of “relations of ruling” proposed by Dorothy Smith. Mohanty also illustrates how the images of Third World Women are sustained by First World discourse. In addition, Mohanty discusses how power operates through capitalism and in turn creates a system of inequality, which not only affects the ideology of the Third World Woman, but also the education system which perpetuates these hegemonic ideas.

Mohanty explains how the major issue with the definition of power is that it cements struggles into binary structures, “processing power versus being powerless”. (39) She goes on to elaborates that since women are seen as powerless groups, their shift into power in terms of feminism discourse, would be dismantling all men and taking over. This would make men powerless and women powerful, but women as a group aren’t all powerful or all powerless. It is critical to acknowledge that “women are not a homogenous group or category (“the oppressed”), even though this is a common assumption in the Western World.” (39) Mohanty also describes the six ways that Third World women are viewed as powerless figures from the viewpoint of Western eyes: victims of male violence, dependent on their husbands, victims of colonial marriage process, obedient wife, or hardworking mother. (24-29) These images of powerless women are sustained by the way Western societies perpetuate theses hegemonic ideas, which set into motion a colonial discourse that uses power to maintain these lasting First/Third World connections. Mohanty believes that border crossing is necessary to change people’s perspectives on Third World women and that by decentering yourself you will become more humble and thus have a better understanding of feminism as a world issue. Also by crossing borders, it will shift the power away from the existing binary structures of examination because you will have more worldly knowledge.

In addition to border crossing, Mohanty highlights Dorothy Smith’s concept of relations of ruling, which is “a concept that grasps power, organization, direction and regulation as more pervasively structured that can be expressed in traditional concepts provided by the discourses of power.” (56) Mohanty thinks that this concept is progressive as it focuses on various intersections of power and highlights the fluid process of ruling not the concrete expression of it. This concept is in the step in the right direction that will move society away from the binary examination of gender, class and race.

In Chapter 6, Mohanty begins to discuss how power operates through capitalism, which in turn produces a system of inequality in the social and work sphere. She describes how patriarchal ideologies, which put women against men inside the home as well as outside of it, interject the images and ideas of the Third World women onto them. This makes it critical for us to rethink the way we see the working class as well as opening our minds to cross-national analysis to better understand the Third World woman. (141) Mohanty lays out three examples of women in the workforce in various parts of the world. The first example is in Narspur, India and it shows how these lacemakers are seen as doing a “leisure time activity” although their work is long hours and grueling meticulous labor. These women cannot be seen as workers because it goes against the hegemonic ideology of men as the breadwinners and women as housewives. (150) In the second example, Mohanty describes the factory worker women in the Silicon Valley and since they are immigrants who are married, their work is seen as not as important as their husbands. These women take on second jobs to better their families’ lives and their bosses put down their efforts and give them part time jobs. The women view their work as upward steps in social mobility. (154) These examples highlight the idea that “women have common interests as worker, not just transforming their work lives and environments, but in redefining home spaces so that homework is recognized as work to earn a living rather than as leisure or supplemental activity.” (168)

In the next chapter, Mohanty discusses how the obsession with making profit affects the universities and diversity, which used to be an institution that allowed discussion, debate and open thought. The privatization in today’s society shifts education away from open discussions and free though because universities are now controlled by whatever corporation is giving them money. With this being said, the companies that donate, or control, these higher education institutions are run by the dominant hegemonic group. This leads to the suppression of diversity, as well as feminist thought. Before globalization and privatization, higher education institutions critiqued these forms of power.

Mohanty, Chandra T. Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

 

 

Tags: Chandra Mohanty · Group Three · Maddy

Feminism without Borders Repost

October 12th, 2011 · No Comments

Feminism without Borders Repost by Star-Quana Jackson

 

This blog post will talk about how aspects of our everyday life are impacted especially by gender and racial ideologies. We have come to learn that there isn’t one singular form of feminism, and in this blog I will discuss feminism through the lenses of Chandra Mohanty. Mohanty’s vision of feminism includes; the importance of location (how where we are from or reside shapes our understanding of the world) and border crossing; the fact that there is no singular experience of being woman (third world or otherwise). Mohanty also emphasizes capitalism as the common theme feminists should focus on and she critiques of the changing nature of higher education.

Gender and race is even more crucial when you are from a third country living in the United States. You are an alien, a foreigner, an immigrant and will always be one no matter how long you reside here. Questions always seem to arise as to when you are “going home”.  Mohanty then argues can anyone particularly third world women even have a home and if so, where is it? Where do they belong? Is home where you were born, or is home where you reside? “Home, community, and identity all fit somewhere between the histories of and experiences we inherit and the political choices we make through alliances, solidarities and friendships” (Feminism without Borders136). Mohanty argues that where you are and who you are (genealogy and location) play a vital role in what people think of you as. She fought this very battle herself and still does today. Dependent upon where she lived in the United States she was associated with being Black, Native, and even Latina From her experiences, Mohanty learns that knowledge is not just what is produced in an education setting but that learning is also experiential.  Arising from her experiences also came the understanding of the structure of the United States. She argues that the formations of genealogies are necessary, but fluid and through the formation of your own genealogy we produce knowledge on ourselves and others. Race plays an important role in how one is perceived in society and most importantly the “power” that one could achieve (attain) in his or her life time.

Chandra Mohanty would argue that the economic system that we live in today called capitalism is to blame for the many false ideologies that came about and that we still live in today. Capitalism is all about money and the constant accumulation of wealth. Cheaper labor plus racism equals the “Other” (formed from ideologies) which equals profit. Why do you think woman get stuck doing the worst jobs? Why are there woman they work 18 hours or more in a factory. Not because their hands are smaller and better fit to use the machines. It is because of these so called gender ideologies that are in place and because women are taught at an early age to be subordinate to men. Most women have a fear of men and that is why it is ideal to have women working in those factories or in domesticated jobs because the men know these women are too afraid to stand up for themselves or to revolt. Do you not find it strange that only men are the supervisors of these factories?  Due to the fact that an ideology of gendered labor exists for third world women it has often times worked to exclude the definition of what they are doing as labor and thus make it harder to organize. Work is defined within a hetero-normative, patriarchal structure and women’s work is given a feminine value which allows it to be degraded by a system that locates power and agency within the masculine realm (Feminism without Borders).

Due to the capitalist economy; the material, cultural, and political effects of the processes of domination and exploitation that sustain what is called the new world order are devastating for the vast majority of people in the world most especially for impoverished and Third World women (Feminism without Borders 146). Women’s labor has always been central to the development, consolidation, and reproduction in the U.S. and elsewhere and women of different races, ethnicities, and social classes have profoundly different but interconnected experiences of work in the economic development from 19th century economic and social practices (Feminism without Borders 147). Third World women need to be valued as not only workers but as individuals so they can make demands and receive monetary compensation which would then support their independence and legitimize their role within the work space. The world has been divided into two groups in the capitalist economy and that is consumers and producers. The values, power and meanings attached to being either a consumer or a producer/worker vary enormously on where and who we happen to be in an unequal global system.  In order for any of this to change we need to have self-empowerment and understanding of the struggles not only of the individual self but of women as a collective (whole). There needs to be a crossing of borders; engagement in a particular society not practical assumption of what is taking place through the lenses of a Western world woman or man.

Tags: Chandra Mohanty · Group Three · Star

The Solution- Mohany Final ahvang08

October 12th, 2011 · No Comments

In order to understand Chandra Mohanty’s goal for feminism you must be able to understand her vision. In the opening chapter she explains the two projects that need to be addressed by feminist: “the internal critique of hegemonic Western feminisms and the formulation of autonomous feminist concerns and strategies that are geographically, historically, and culturally grounded (Mohanty, 17).” By this she means the distinction between Western feminism and Third World feminism needs to be blurred. She discusses further that the deconstruction and dismantling of this Western feminist notion will help to solidify feminism as a whole.  The second project she mentions is the formulation of autonomous feminist concerns and strategies, which basically means that there isn’t one solution to solve oppression of women everywhere, that each problem should be addressed independently and in context of who the people are.  However, Mohanty does emphasize the importance of transnational feminist solidarity, because if Western feminist feel superior to Third World women it just continues the oppression cycle and capitalist domination. “The hegemony of the idea of the superiority of the West produces a corresponding set of universal images of the Third World woman, images such as the veiled woman, the powerful mother, the chaste virgin, the obedient wife and so on (Mohanty, 41). This can be tied back with Collins theory of the matrix of domination. The oppressor typically constructs these ideas of the oppressed that continuously reinstate power over them. The idea of colonial superiority of Third World countries is instilled historically, universally and culturally into our society and the only way to breakdown these notions is to create a sense of solidarity between the First and Third Worlds.

The world has turned in to a capitalist economy, establishing producer and consumer discourses that continuously oppress those who are unable to fall into either or. The producer commonly recognized as the Third World and the consumers are the people of the West. But it  is the exploitation of the Third World workers that creates the issue of domination. In our contemporary economy women’s work is formed by domesticity, femininity and race (Mohanty, 158).  Mohanty explains that women’s work has always been central to the development, consolidation and reproduction of capitalism in the United States and elsewhere (Mohanty, 146). It is women workers who do the brunt of labor that no one else wants to do; it’s the agriculture, and the factory work in both large and small scale manufacturing industries that they are typically involved in. It is the work of these women that create the capitalist producer and consumer discourses. Women who work in these jobs are made to believe that they have to work with lower pay, less job security, and poor working conditions. Mohanty explains that what needs to change within racialized capitalist patriarchies are the very concept of work/labor, as well as the naturalization of heterosexual masculinity in the definition of “the worker (148).”

By addressing the issues in Third World women’s work, feminist will be able to breakdown the capitalist ideology that continues to oppress women. Mohanty believes the solution for resolving the oppression of Third World women is the ability to mobilize, organize, and solidify transnationally (140). A quote by Irma, a worker in the Silicon Valley, really resonates with Mohanty’s focus and that is, “Tell them it may take time the people think they don’t have, but they have to organize!…Because the only way to get a little measure of power over your own life is to do it collectively, with the support of other people who share your needs (139).” However, one cannot go and push for Western Feminist thinking in an area that isn’t dealing with the same issues. Feminist should strive to decolonize the educational system, to demystify the ideology of the masculinized worker, and to have an active, oppositional, and collective voice that comes as a result of one’s location (Mohanty, 216).  It is important to individualize the issues, but come together to support one another as a whole. She explains the greatest challenge feminist face is the task to recognize and undoing the ways in which we colonize and objectify our different histories and cultures, thus colluding with hegemonic processes of domination and rule (125).

 

Chandra Talpade Mohanty (2004) Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Tags: Abby · Chandra Mohanty · Group One

Please Knock First: An Examination Of How Capitalism Erodes Culture [Final]

October 12th, 2011 · No Comments

Kate Aseltine

There is a serious problem with the way women living in the “Third World” have come to be conceptualized in the West. Stationed within our own “Euro-centric” discourses, we often overlook the varying and distinctive cultural contexts these women occupy. By viewing these women only through the lens of Western capitalist ideologies, we are complicit in the controlling imagery that “undercuts women’s agency by defining them as victims of a process of pauperization or of “tradition” or “patriarchy” rather than as agents capable of making their own choices.”(Mohanty 151). We overlook the examples of Third World women who have carved a space for themselves, as teachers, as entrepreneurs, as leaders, or we disregard these women as “outliers” from the normative subjugation. Though Mohanty would not hesitate to concede that the lives of many women in the Third World are bleak, she argues that the capitalist strategies of the West are not a solution. In fact, these subversive and increasingly globalized forms of capitalism are, in her estimation, structurally responsible for their strife.

Yet again, we find capitalism painted as the antagonist, determined to thwart an egalitarian future, and with good reason. As Mohanty emphasizes,” The common interests of capital (e.g. profit, accumulation, exploitation) are somewhat clear at this point” (Mohanty 140). As I argued in my previous blog, capitalism functions by creating inequitable power levels, establishing dominions of domination and subordination, and designating social groups as the privileged or “the other.” Those who occupy the space of this “other,” or minority, are then positioned to be utilized as cheap labor and are stripped of their rights by de-humanizing controlling images.“In the United States, histories of slavery, indentured servitude, contract labor, self-employment, and wage work are also simultaneously histories of gender, race, and (hetero)sexuality, nestled within the context of the development of capitalism (i.e. of class conflict and struggle)” (Mohanty 146). Mohanty utilizes the example of slavery in the United States, when African American men and women were used as “chattel” to serve Caucasians and produce agriculture in the South, and the subjugation of people of color and women continues to be a salient issue today.

Mohanty also cites Dorthy Smith’s concept of “relations of ruling” to explain why capitalism is complicit in the construction of these inequities. Smith argues that there is a “specific interrelation between the dynamic advance of the distinctive forms of organizing and ruling contemporary capitalist society and the patriarchal forms of our contemporary experience,” which is maintained by, “government, law, business and financial management, professional organization, and educational institutions” (Mohanty 56). Mohanty asserts that the result of Western ideologies penetrating the space of Third World women has been the spread and intensification of these relations of ruling, rather than the dissemination of liberal feminisms. In her estimation Western discourses will continue to have toxic implications until they are removed from this matrix of domination. In spite of the role the American spirit of individualism has played in empowering women to demand fair compensation and agency, it is essential to keep in mind cultural distinctions that imperil the replication of this trend, unless we are conscious of the nuanced roles culture and tradition play in the lives of Third World women. We cannot diagnose an illness until we have evaluated all of its symptoms, and we would do well not to prescribe discourses with structurally oppressive side effects.

In further examining the relationship between the women of the Third World and the West, Mohanty evaluates the historic tradition of our interactions, positing that the Eurocentric colonizers of the past seem to have been replaced, by a modern model of infiltration disguised as “globalization.” Capitalist interests in the Third World have changed very little over the past 500 years. The West continues to strip women of the Third World of culture and agency, and leech their resources and labor. Women are the cheapest producers of foreign goods, and women of the Third World make the ideal employees. Using the example of female lace workers in Narspur, India, Mohanty asserts that jobs and tasks are established within an “ideological construction… in terms of notions of appropriate femininity, domesticity, (hetero)sexuality, and racial and cultural stereotypes.” These discourses drastically belittle what women, particularly women in the Third World, are capable of by portraying them as infantile, a controlling image we reinforce every time we think of them simply as victims. Job typing has facilitated the creation of a social identity: workers are isolated within their sex, race, and class, and this isolation perpetuates their subjugation. The work of these women is shaped within this framework, and “tedious” and “unskilled.” The effect of this definition of women’s labor is not only that it makes women’s labor and its costs invisible, but that it denies women power and agency, effectively trapping them within a position of subordination. Capitalist principles stress that valuable labor and laborers, exist only within the masculine sphere, which is why Mohanty argues that, “Analyzing and transforming this masculine definition of labor, which is the mainstay of capitalist patriarchal cultures, is one of the most significant challenges we face” (Mohanty 151).

Our role in the future of our increasing globalized, and capitalistic world is changing dramatically, and we must adjust our conception of ourselves accordingly. Within the globalized, capitalistic matrix of domination we no longer occupy the role of citizens –we are consumers. This has dramatic implications on the way we interact with our political systems, particularly the ones responsible for perpetuating this matrix. When we subscribe to controlling images of women of the Third World, we take a step backwards. When we vote for a system sustained by subjugation, we deny ourselves a more egalitarian future. To combat this, we must rethink what we know about positionality and experience. Mohanty suggests that by spreading globalized socialism, rather than capitalism, we can enable a system that would foster solidarity across borders, without violating the vital cultural contexts these borders represent.  Unlike capitalism, socialist ideologies stress the importance of a political climate that supports equality and assures individual agency is nurtured by the state- a political system for the people, as juxtaposed to a political system for the powerful. Commonality fosters cooperation, but productive solidarity cannot exist without an acknowledgement of culture, history, and difference.

 

Tags: Chandra Mohanty · Group Two · Kate · Uncategorized

Revised-Alexandra Troli

October 12th, 2011 · No Comments

Knowledge is power and individuals need to begin decolonizing it in order for radical change to take place, “not just working (or waiting) for a revolution” (Mohanty 4). One aspect of Mohanty’s book is based on the marginalization of “Third World Woman”. Individuals in the West need not to classify “the production of the Third World Woman as a singular, monolithic subject” (Mohanty 17). Even when women share the same culture, they are still different in their own way, for Mohanty stress’ that “our most expansive and inclusive visions of feminism need to be attentive to borders while learning to transcend them” (Mohanty 2); hence feminism without border’s.

The presence of borders in one’s life can be both a positive and negative experience. These borders shape the way we see and experience the world around us. They can be both “exclusionary and enabling” (Mohanty 2). For example, in chapter eight Mohanty addresses the struggles she faces when she returns home when her own Hindu family dismisses her because her “nonresident Indian” status makes her unable to possibly understand the “Muslim problem”. However, that “same green card has always been viewed with suspicion by leftist and feminist friends, who demand evidence of her ongoing commitment to a socialist and democratic India” (Mohanty131). Another example involves the borders set in place for the Western woman. These borders allow the world to see her as “educated, modern, having control over their own bodies and sexualities, and the freedom to make their own decisions” (Mohanty 22). Contrary to the American women, border’s in place for the Third World Woman has allowed the world to view them as a homogeneous unit. “These women lead an essentially truncated life based on her feminine gender and her being Third World”(Mohanty 22) allowing some to be viewed as “ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition-bound, domestic, family oriented, and victimized” (Mohanty 22). Unfortunately some of these borders are created from Western national and capitalist domination creating the assumption that the U.S corporate culture is the norm. This is especially the case in higher education and is emphasized when Mohanty critiques the methods used to analyze Third World Women by Western feminists. For example, it is common in Western scholars to identify Third World women as victims. This is why decolonizing knowledge is crucial because individuals need not to be corrupted by false generalizations and acknowledge the differences and commonalities among all women.

Decolonizing involves “profound transformations of self, community, and governance structures”(Mohanty 7) that will result in “not only the creation of new kinds of self-governance but also the creation of new men and women” (Mohanty 8).

Borders come in many disguises, for they are lines drawn through “nations, races, classes, sexualities, religions, and disabilities. Feminist with out borders must envision change and social justice to work across these lines of demarcation and division” (Mohanty 2). After all, there is a commonality of struggle for women around the world regardless of the borders that “define” them.

 

Tags: Chandra Mohanty · Troli

Mohanty and Knowledge (Final)

October 12th, 2011 · No Comments

By Jenae Nicoletta

In Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Chandra Talpade Mohanty conceptualizes knowledge as the practical application of a theory, which in turn allows knowledge to germinate social change (195). She considers theory to be “a deepening of the political, not moving away from it: a distillation of experience, and an intensification of the personal” (Mohanty 191). Therefore, she also places a great importance on the power of self-definition in relation to knowledge. Mohanty locates her own “intellectual and political genealogy” in order to illustrate this point (192). She compares and contrasts the meanings of being a feminist and racialized both in India and in the U.S. She attempts to understand her changing labels and self-identifications as well as new questions and contradictions that she discovers along her journey (Mohanty 190). She argues that this definition allows us to better understand differences, which will in turn facilitate the construction of solidarities across divisions and diversity.

Mohanty emphasizes the importance of analyzing the “commoditization” of knowledge within U.S. academies (171). She argues that knowledge is being capitalized into “commercial property” (Mohanty 173). Therefore, it is important to understand the structures that create and maintain power, especially because they are not always obviously visible. In addition, universities have become more entrepreneurial and corporate. She believes that the values and ideologies associated with entrepreneurial, corporate universities conflict with the values of a democratic, public university (Mohanty 174). Attention has shifted from educators to products of education (Mohanty 178) and feminist educators are being denied tenure due to the “’political’ or unconventional nature of their work” (Mohanty 175). However, Mohanty also argues that the restructuring of universities does not mean the total loss of a space to engage in alternative knowledge production processes. After all, Mohanty states, “what I hope and struggle for, I garner as my knowledge, create it as the place from where I seek to know” (123).  We must continue to understand, challenge and unmask the political structuring of the university.

Mohanty asserts the importance of attempting to investigate questions of race and gender in regard to the ways in which they are being “commodified” in the U.S. (Mohanty 215). She argues that feminist learning environments compel us to “identify and challenge the politics of knowledge that naturalizes global capitalism” (Mohanty 171). Some of the places she believes this is trying to be done are in women’s studies, black studies, and ethnic studies fields. Mohanty describes knowledge production in these areas as being shaped by “difference that attempts to resist incorporation and appropriation by providing a space for historically silenced peoples to construct knowledge” (195). Since these fields place an importance on self-definition, experience is authorized in order to look closely at the ways in which individuals are politicized based on race, gender, class, and sexualities (Mohanty 202). This allows students to become active in knowledge production rather than being mere observers. Mohanty argues for people of color as well as “progressive white people” to create oppositional knowledge rather than “accommodative” knowledge (217).

In addition, the main argument in this book is for the decolonization of theory in order to practice solidarity. Mohanty attempts to expose the issues that occur when Western feminists assume that all Third World women can be similarly stereotyped. Therefore, Mohanty describes ways in which Third World women produce knowledge through an understanding of self-identity. Writing is one important site for the production of knowledge because compels these women to “rethink, remember, and utilize” their lived experience as a foundation of knowledge (Mohanty 78). Within the last thirty years, publishing houses have printed autobiographies or “life-story-oriented texts” written by Third World feminists (Mohanty 78). However, storytelling, oral history, fictional texts, and poetry are other important sites that allow for alternative knowledge production. These sites create a shared feminist political consciousness because they allow these women to speak from within a collective rather than for a group (Mohanty 81).

To summarize, Mohanty is arguing against speaking for a group. Mohanty adds that Western feminists problematically construct Third World women “as a homogeneous ‘powerless’ group often located as implicit victims of particular socioeconomic systems” (23). To move away from speaking for a group, she suggests we learn to understand how our identities are defined considering our geographic locations, histories, and genealogies. Analysis must be contextual. We cannot construct “monolithic images” of Third World women (Mohanty 37). It is also important to analyze who is producing knowledge about Third World women and from what location they are doing so (Mohanty 45). Mohanty suggests that through the understanding of self-identity and the understanding of gender and race, there are ways to make connections and ask better questions rather than attempting to provide an absolute history and theory of Third World women.

 

Works Cited

Mohanty, Chandra Talapade. Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003. Print.

 

Tags: Chandra Mohanty · Group One · Jenae

The Privitization of Higher Education (Final)

October 10th, 2011 · No Comments

The Privatization of Higher Education

 

 

The education system we have come to know, appreciate, and strive within is changing and fast. In fact, it has already changed. We are unknowingly living in an exploitive educational environment, which is slowly draining our opportunities for creative and introspective thought. We are being primed as political and global consumers, and those who do not economically fit within this scheme of privatization are being phased out. Mohanty discusses these power dynamics and the negative change they are having on higher education, specifically how these changes are affecting women and people of color.

As the system of higher education has developed it became a space to expand ones own knowledge, to foster creativity, to ask questions, and to probe society. “It is one of the few remaining spaces in a rapidly privatized world that offers some semblance of a public arena for dialogue, engagement, and visioning of democracy and justice” (Mohanty 170).  Thus, “The Academy”, as Mohanty refers, has been the leading location for feminist conversation, debate, and change. Through such outlets, leading feminist academics have developed their theories and have made a significant impact on our world and understandings. Through this system of knowledge development the University came to serve as a system of “non-repression”(174).  However, this growing concept of “globalization” and the expanding global political economy is privatizing the academy, changing its students from democratic and informed citizens to consumers in an education/profit driven matrix.

Intellect has become a primary marketable commodity. Education is undergoing a second revolution, in which research is encouraged, so that it can be translated “into intellectual property, a marketable commodity, and economic development” (173). We have begun to put a price on the intelligence of the future generations, and even more so on the fields of education that have the potential to garner a large margin of profit. Thus, we are seeing an emphasis’ on studies similar to economics, government, business etc, and “the simultaneous marginalization and cooptation of feminist, race and ethnic, and gay/lesbian/queer studies agendas in the service of the corporate academy” (174). This meaning, that in the near future we will see a decrease in the number and importance of the humanities, and courses geared toward challenging the “man”, for their role the market will become “ornamental”. We will be phased out of sorts, our position within the academic matrix lost/stolen by a monster called privatization.

Why does this affect us, you may ask? Not only are the humanities at risk of extinction but also the opportunity for all to be educated is severely at risk of being eliminated. With this move towards marketing intellect, is the “growing link between money, the ability to consume and own goods, and the participation in public life (democratic citizenship)” (183). Mohanty argues, that this opportunity or “free-choice” for education is only available to those with economic means. Wealth determines ones ability to not only be educated but to have a say on the ebb and flow of educational change. The education system is undergoing a deliberate transformation for the sole purpose of profit making.

One shocking example of this change is the new St. Lawrence strategic action plan.  Previous to the current President, St. Lawrence strove for diversity. We aimed to rise our inclusion of minority students, and had a huge emphasis on financial aid. We sought students who were academically strong enough for the rigor, but not able to finance their education. However, with the induction of the new president, circumstances of the university are changing. SLU is in serious debt, and so now things must change.  In addition to the new business major, enrollment is desired to go up, international students are only accepted if they can pay full tuition, and we are now “expanding admissions reach to enhance good fit and Financial Strength” (Fox). The SLU I know and have loved for the past four years is on the brink of serious change. The powers at be are moving away from goals of diversity and towards goals of profit. The president, no longer looks to expand the intellect all those capable of SLU, but rather only to those students who have the fiscal means to pay their way through. We will lose our being; we will lose the university we are today, and who is to say that we haven’t already lost it?

Finally, I wish to move back towards Mohanty, and further discuss this change and its global impact on the education of women and People of color. This change in education is pertinent to us. We are at serious risk to lose our education. The restructuring of higher education enables the wealthy to become wealthier, and the opportunity for education and self-development dwindles to only those who can afford it. One must look at this global privatization as a structure of power, geared only to fiscal production. If we do not strive to be aware of these changes and attempt to stop or delay them, then we threaten to lose ourselves. We will be giving in to the hierarchy of privatization, and letting the powers at be to take over.

 

 

Works Cited

 

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. Feminism without Borders :Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

 

“St. Lawrence University: Strategic Map.” Stlawu.edu. William Fox, N.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2011. https://www.stlawu.edu/president/strategic_plan/index.html

Tags: Chandra Mohanty · Group Two · Olivia

Feminism in Mohanty

October 9th, 2011 · 2 Comments

This blog post will talk about how aspects of our everyday life are impacted especially by gender and racial ideologies. Mohanty would argue this to be true particularly in higher education (colleges and universities), and in the work place. She would argue that gender and race is even more crucial when you are from a third country living in the United States. You are an alien, a foreigner, an immigrant and will always be one no matter how long you reside here. Questions always seem to arise as to when you are “going home”.  Mohanty then argues can anyone particularly third world women even have a home and if so, where is it? Where do they belong? Is home where you were born, or is home where you reside? Mohanty argues that where you are and who you are (genealogy and location) play a vital role in what people think of you as. She fought this very battle herself and still does today. Dependent upon where she lived in the United States she was associated with being Black, Native, and even Latina. Race plays an important role in how you are perceived in society and most importantly the “power” that one could achieve (attain).

When you are a “visitor” from another country especially a woman, everyone thinks of you as a “student”, no matter how many grey hairs you have in your head, or how many wrinkles you have on your face. Mohanty would argue no matter the degree (law or even doctoral) that women would still be less than. Women no matter what the race was still couldn’t even compare to the elite white man. The white man still is the man with all the power who set the standards for those who are “beneath him”. The third world woman is just another socially constructed image just as the pure woman and the whore. Mohanty says for in the context of First/Third world balance of power, feminist analyses that perpetrate and sustain the hegemony of the idea of the superiority of the West produce a corresponding set of universal images of the Third World Woman, images such as the veiled woman, the powerful  mother, the chaste virgin, the obedient wife, etc. In the film ten you saw some of these images reproduced except for the main character that didn’t fit into any of those categories. She was strong and independent, and didn’t need a main to complete her but wanted companionship instead.

 

Mohanty would argue just as Hill Collins has and would say that knowledge isn’t always produced in a formal, educational institution. There are sometimes obstacles in the way such as slavery for the blacks that prevented members associated with that race from receiving a formal and becoming literate. Mohanty would also argue that knowledge is formed through experience which also agrees with Hill Collins arguments. However, Mohanty would disagree with Hill Collins in the fact that no two woman experience life in the same way. Sure, they may have similar obstacles that they face, but they ways in which they face these obstacles, how they even came about, and how they choose to overcome those obstacles are very different.

Chandra Mohanty would argue that the economic system that we live in today called capitalism is to blame for the many false ideologies that came about and that we still live in today. Capitalism is all about money and the constant accumulation of wealth. Cheaper labor plus racism equals the “Other” (formed from ideologies) which equals profit. Why do you think woman get stuck doing the worst jobs? Why are there woman they work 18 hours or more in a factory. Not because their hands are smaller and better fit to use the machines. It is because of these so called gender ideologies that are in place and because women are taught at an early age to be subordinate to men. Most women have a fear of men and that is why it is ideal to have women working in those factories or in domesticated jobs because the men know these women are too afraid to stand up for themselves or to revolt. Do you not find it strange that only men are the supervisors of these factories?

Tags: Chandra Mohanty · Group Three · Star

Knowledge

October 7th, 2011 · 7 Comments

Alexandra Troli

Knowledge is power and individuals need to begin decolonizing it in order for radical change to take place, “not just working (or waiting) for a revolution” (Mohanty 4). One aspect of Mohanty’s novel is based on the marginalization of “Third World Woman”. Individuals in the West need not to classify “the production of the Third World Woman as a singular, monolithic subject” (Mohanty 17). Even when women share the same culture, they are still different in their own way, for Mohanty stress’ that “our most expansive and inclusive visions of feminism need to be attentive to borders while learning to transcend them” (Mohanty 2); hence feminism without border’s.

The presence of borders in one’s life can be both a positive and negative experience. These borders shape the way we see and experience the world around us. They can be both “exclusionary and enabling” (Mohanty 2). For example, in chapter eight Mohanty addresses the struggles she faces when she returns home when her own Hindu family dismisses her because her “nonresident Indian” status makes her unable to possibly understand the “Muslim problem”. However, that “same green card has always been viewed with suspicion by leftist and feminist friends, who demand evidence of her ongoing commitment to a socialist and democratic India” (Mohanty131). Another example involves the borders set in place for the Western woman. These borders allow the world to see her as “educated, modern, having control over their own bodies and sexualities, and the freedom to make their own decisions” (Mohanty 22). Contrary to the American women, border’s in place for the Third World Woman has allowed the world to view them as a homogeneous unit. “These women lead an essentially truncated life based on her feminine gender and her being Third World”(Mohanty 22) allowing some them to be viewed as “ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition-bound, domestic, family oriented, and victimized” (Mohanty 22). Unfortunately some of these borders are created from Western national and capitalist domination creating the assumption that the U.S corporate culture is the norm. This is why decolonizing knowledge is crucial. Decolonizing involves “profound transformations of self, community, and governance structures”(Mohanty 7) that will result in “not only the creation of new kinds of self-governance but also the creation of new men and women” (Mohanty 8).

Borders come in many disguises, for they are lines drawn through “nations, races, classes, sexualities, religions, and disabilities. Feminist with out borders must envision change and social justice to work across these lines of demarcation and division” (Mohanty 2). After all, there is a commonality of struggle for women around the world regardless of the borers that “define” them.

Works Cited

Mohanty, Chandra Talapade. Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003. Print.

 

Tags: Chandra Mohanty · Group Two · Troli

Mohanty and Knowledge (Draft)

October 7th, 2011 · 2 Comments

By Jenae Nicoletta

In Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Chandra Talpade Mohanty conceptualizes knowledge as the practical application of a theory, which in turn allows knowledge to germinate social change (195). She considers theory to be “a deepening of the political, not moving away from it: a distillation of experience, and an intensification of the personal” (Mohanty 191). Therefore, she also places a great importance on the power of self-definition in relation to knowledge. Mohanty locates her own “intellectual and political genealogy” in order to illustrate this point (192). She compares and contrasts the meanings of being a feminist and racialized both in India and in the U.S. She attempts to understand her changing labels and self-identifications as well as new questions and contradictions that she discovers along her journey (Mohanty 190). She argues that this definition allows us to better understand differences, which will in turn facilitate the construction of solidarities across divisions and diversity.

Mohanty asserts the importance of attempting to investigate questions of race and gender in regard to the ways in which they are being “commodified” in the U.S. (Mohanty 215). One of the places she believes this is trying to be done is in women’s studies, black studies, and ethnic studies fields. Mohanty describes knowledge production in these areas as being shaped by “difference that attempts to resist incorporation and appropriation by providing a space for historically silenced peoples to construct knowledge” (195). Since these fields place an importance on self-definition, experience is authorized in order to look closely at the ways in which individuals are politicized based on race, gender, class, and sexualities (Mohanty 202). This allows students to become active in knowledge production rather than being mere observers. Mohanty argues for people of color as well as “progressive white people” to create oppositional knowledge rather than “accommodative” knowledge (217).

In addition, the main argument in this book is for the decolonization of theory in order to practice solidarity. Mohanty attempts to expose the issues that occur when Western feminists assume that all Third World women can be similarly stereotyped. Therefore, Mohanty describes ways in which Third World women produce knowledge through an understanding of self-identity. Writing is one important site for the production of knowledge because compels these women to “rethink, remember, and utilize” their lived experience as a foundation of knowledge (Mohanty 78). Within the last thirty years, publishing houses have printed autobiographies or “life-story-oriented texts” written by Third World feminists (Mohanty 78). However, storytelling, oral history, fictional texts, and poetry are other important sites that allow for alternative knowledge production. These sites create a shared feminist political consciousness because they allow these women to speak from within a collective rather than for a group (Mohanty 81).

To summerize, Mohanty is arguing against speaking for a group. Therefore, she believes we must understand how our identities are defined considering our geographic locations, histories, and genealogies. Analysis must be contextual. We cannot construct “monolithic images” of Third World women (Mohanty 37). It is also important to analyze who is producing knowledge about Third World women and from what location they are doing so (Mohanty 45). Mohanty suggests that through the understanding of self-identity and the understanding of gender and race, there are ways to make connections and ask better questions rather than attempting to provide an absolute history and theory of Third World women.

 

Works Cited

Mohanty, Chandra Talapade. Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003. Print.

 

Tags: Chandra Mohanty · Group One · Jenae