Blogging the Theoretical

Entries Tagged as 'Group One'

The Solution-Mohanty by ahvang08

October 7th, 2011 · 3 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).” She elaborates the first deals with the deconstruction and dismantling of this Western feminist notion and the ability to build and construct an autonomous feminist understanding. Mohanty emphasizes the importance of transnational feminist solidarity and the fact that if Western feminism and Third World feminism are divided, it only further instates the oppression of Third World women. “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). These images exist in universal, ahistorical splendor, setting in motion a colonist discourse that exercises a very specific power in defining, coding and maintaining existing First/Third World connections (Mohanty, 41).”

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. This capitalist ideology is reinstated in the work force, in politics, and even in our education system. Mohanty describes this struggle on page 146, “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—and most especially for impoverished and Third World women.” Mohanty believes the solution for resolving the oppression of Third World women is the ability to mobilize, organize, and solidify transnationally (140). 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).  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).” It is the push 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).

 

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

Tags: Abby · Chandra Mohanty · Group One

Feminism Two

September 25th, 2011 · No Comments

Feminism (revised) –

Patricia Hill Collins in her book Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment makes many arguments and theorizes numerous concepts surrounding feminist thought. Not only does Hill Collins suggest premise for oppression of women in the African American culture, but also the intersectionality between all feminisms.  She makes the point that oppression does not just start with the single structure of gender and then move to such areas as race, class, sexual orientation, etc. It sees these distinct systems of oppression as being part of one overarching structure of domination in which all these systems are dependent on one another. Instead of arguing about who experiences the worst oppression, intersectionality focuses attention on how these systems of oppression interrelate in different peoples’ ways of life.

“Replacing additive models of oppression with interlocking ones creates possibilities for new paradigms. The significance of seeing race, class, and gender as interlocking systems of oppression is that such an approach fosters a paradigmatic shift of thinking inclusively about other oppressions, such as age, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity.” (Collins)

Hill Collins also argues how women from a transnational perspective, in different countries, are affected by different oppressions in very diverse ways. For example, if you were to be addressing Black oppression amongst women in the Caribbean’s, their issues would not be the same of those in the United States.

Controlling images play a large part in the reinforcement of certain socially constructed molds for what feminist “should” or are scene to be. These controlling images

She states that Non-white feminist have not contributed in western feminist idea not because they were not capable of contributing with knowledge of their suppression. Today black feminists have the knowledge to contribute to feminist thought in a way no other culture could. Feminism now calls for the diversity that it hasn’t had in the past, due to the politics, knowledge, ect. Preventing this from happening.

“Confronting the controlling images forwarded by institutions external to African-American communities remains essential. But such effort should not obscure the equally important issue of examining how African-American institutions also perpetuate these same controlling images.”(Collins, 86)

 

Tags: Group One · Monica

Gender: Through the Eyes of Collins, Final

September 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

As a society, dominant groups classify gender in two different spheres, male and female. Society is the foundation in which we abide to and shapes our way of how we see the world. African American Women surrounded themselves with policies created by these dominant groups leading to the oppression and exploitation of their outer and inner sexuality for many years, even in contemporary culture. In Patricia Hill Collins “Black Feminist Thought”, she discusses a broader understanding of African American Women in the U.S. and how race, gender, sexuality, and class interlock with one another in regards to how inequality and oppression has affected their lives. According to Collins, “In order to capture the interconnections of race, gender, and social class in Black Women’s lives and their effect on Black feminist thought, I explicitly rejected grounding my analysis in any single theoretical tradition” (Collins Viii). Collins clearly depicts her motive of looking at this issue in a theoretical sense by looking at what really happened that has led up to the effect of black feminist thought on African American women. She looks into the situations that black women faced among dominant groups and toll in took in living this way. Collins furthers her dialectical approach on Black women feminism by noting that the experience of oppression, class, gender and sexuality among African American women are individually different (Collins 25). She also brings to our attention on how the political economy, segregation and controlling images have created a common experience in shaping black women’s experiences in the United States. The facts that these experiences are different, allow black women to engage in negotiation and/or conversations of resistance.

Patricia Hill Collins discusses the ‘controlling images’ that African American Women face developed by white dominant elites. Collins says, “From mammies, jezebels, and breeder women of slavery…ubiquitous Black prostitutes and ever-present welfare mothers of contemporary popular culture, negative stereotypes applied to African-American women have been fundamental to Black women’s oppression” (Collins 7). The negative stereotypes portrayed in Collins are an indication of how African-American women have become targets of oppression and sexual exploitation by white male elites. Elite white males also known as, ‘Dominant groups’ are constantly coming up with ideas to put African-American women from ever climbing up the social ladder. To keep black women from ever having any type of power allows these negative ‘controlling images’ to pass on in society (Collins 7).  Many of these controlling images of gender and sexually were used to promote inequality and discrimination among Black women. However, regardless of what they face, they would soon use their individual experiences to get together and construct their own perspective of what “Gender” really is living in a predominant society. The construct of what “Gender” is to be perceive and the knowledge of what it brings to African-American women would be taught to be passed down to younger generation.

 

Tags: Group One · Jennifer M

The Solution (Collins/Final)-Ahvang08

September 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

           The solution can’t be understood until the problem is addressed. African- American women in the United States are at the bottom of the domination matrix. They are continuously oppressed for not only their race, but their class, gender and sexuality as well. The matrix of domination is made up of four domains of power; structural, disciplinary, hegemonic, and interpersonal, which in turn organizes, manages, justifies, and influences oppression in to the lives of African-American women (Collins, 294). It is these domains of power in the U.S., which highlight the intersectionality of oppression. It is through empowerment, knowledge and experience that Patricia Hill-Collins believes will help Black women in the United States overcome oppression. If these three solutions are attainable, it means that slowly the Black women of the United States would have successfully broken down the four domains of power.

               In order to do so the Black feminist need to understand the four domains both independently and as a whole. The structural domain of power regulates citizenship and one of the biggest struggles for African- American women is to gain the same equal rights to citizenship other U.S. citizens have. In order for Black women to break down the structural domain of power law reform as well as new laws need to be established. In turn this would help restructure of institutional framework, allowing Black women more educational opportunities as well as job opportunities. The hegemonic domain “acts as a link between social institutions, their organizational practices, and the level of everyday social interaction (Collins, 299).” In other words the hegemonic power domain links the other three domains together. The hegemonic domain deals with ideology, culture and consciousness of a society (Collin, 302). Collins focuses a lot on the controlling images of Black women in the United States and the way in which the oppressive group uses these images to legitimize power and reaffirm dominance.

           A lot of progress has been made in our social institution allowing for more Black women in authoritative roles. But Collin’s says now the problem is “If you can no longer keep black women outside then how can they best be regulated once they are inside (Collins, 299).” This is where the disciplinary domain of power focus on “creating quiet, orderly, docile, and disciplined populations of Black women (Collins, 299)” with in our bureaucratic social organizations.  The last domain of power is the interpersonal which “functions through routinized, day-to-day practices of how people treat one another. Such practices are systematic, recurrent and so familiar that they often go unnoticed. (Collins, 306-307).” These four domains of power continuously oppress African-American women in the U.S., and the only way to stop the oppression is to break down the power matrix.

                   Collins believes that empowerment and knowledge are the two ways for Black women to end oppression, and that the two are interdependent. That through empowerment Black women are able to restructure and make new laws that allow for better citizenship, and better protection from the widespread discrimination that they have faced in the past (Collins, 297). It is through these new laws that Black women are able to further their education and get placed in higher end jobs. And from those positions of authority they can reform from the inside. Collins explains it as “capturing positions of authority within social institutions in order to ensure that existing rules will be fairly administered and, if need be, to change existing policies (300). In order for Black women to breakdown the hegemonic power domain they must “emphasize the power of self-definition and the necessity of a free mind (Collins, 304). She explains that gaining the critical consciousness to unpack hegemonic ideologies is empowering and the construction of new knowledge can only help to further dismember hegemonic power (305). And it is the unobtrusive yet creative ways that all sorts of ordinary people work to change the world around them which will help to break down the interpersonal. Ultimately, it is through the desire for change that Black women, will be able to empower and spread knowledge in order to make this world a better place.

References

Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought. New York: Routledge Classics, 2009.

Tags: Abby · Group One · Patricia Hill Collins

The Solution (Collins)-ahvang08

September 18th, 2011 · 3 Comments

The solution can’t be understood until the problem is addressed. African- American women in the United States are at the bottom of the domination matrix. They are continuously oppressed for not only their race, but their class, gender and sexuality as well. The matrix of domination is made up of four domains of power, which in turn organizes, manages, justifies, and influences oppression in to the lives of African-American women (Collins, 294). In recognizing these domains of power, the Black Feminist can work towards a solution. Patricia Hill-Collins believes that Black feminist thought should empower and spread knowledge and slowly change will come to our society’s social structure and power domains. Collins explains that Black women’s experiences and ideas illustrate the way in which these four domains of power shape domination, but at the same time these domains have been and can be used for Black women’s empowerment (295).

Empowerment is the ability to take action and actually make a difference. It is one thing to say you’re going to do something and another to go do it.  Collins explains that Black feminist can’t be empowered without knowledge, the two are interdependent. She believes that Black feminist thought should continuously address the epistemological debates concerning the power dynamics that underlie what counts as knowledge and that by offering new knowledge about Black women’s own experiences they become empowered (292). U.S. social institutions uphold and foster a lot of the oppression in American and empowerment cannot occur unless there is change. Black feminist have spent a lot of time addressing segregation laws and fighting to be participants in U.S. society. Black women’s resistance strategies reflect their placement both within each domain and within the U.S. matrix of domination. But without resistance, knowledge and empowerment, Black women will be forced to remain at the bottom of the domination matrix. Collins explains that change might not be recognized in each individual African-American woman, but collectively as each individual changes their ideas and actions the overall shape of power will change (293). Ultimately, it has to be a group effort for change to happen, but the individual roles are just as important as the whole entity.

Tags: Abby · Group One

Feminism by Monica

September 17th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Monica P

Feminism-

Patricia Hill Collins in her book Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment makes many arguments and theorizes numerous concepts surrounding feminist thought. Not only does Hill Collins suggest premise for oppression of women in the African American culture, but also the intersectionality between all feminisms.  She makes the point that oppression does not just start with the single structure gender and then move to such areas as race, class, sexual orientation, etc. It sees these distinct systems of oppression as being part of one overarching structure of domination in which all these systems are dependent on one another. Instead of arguing about who experiences the worst oppression, intersectionality focuses attention on how these systems of oppression interrelate in different peoples’ ways of life.

Hill Collins also argues how women from a transnational perspective, in different countries, are affected by different oppressions in very diverse ways. For example, if you were to be addressing Black oppression amongst women in the Caribbean’s, their issues would not be the same of those in the United States.

She states that Non-white feminist have not contributed in western feminist idea not because they were not capable of contributing with knowledge of their suppression. Today black feminist have the knowledge to contribute to feminist thought in a way no other culture could. Feminism now calls for the diversity that hasn’t had in the past, though politics, knowledge, ect. Have prevented this from happening.

Tags: Group One · Monica

Gender- Through the Eyes of Collins

September 16th, 2011 · 4 Comments

As a society, dominant groups classify gender in two different spheres, male and female. Society is the foundation in which we abide to and shapes our way of how we see the world. African American Women who became surrounded with policies created by these dominant groups led to the oppression and exploitation of their outer and inner sexuality for many years, even in contemporary culture. In Patricia Hill Collins “Black Feminist Thought”, she discusses a broader understanding of African American Women in the U.S. and how race, gender, and class interlock with one another in regards to how inequality and oppression has affected African American women’s lives. According to Collins, “In order to capture the interconnections of race, gender, and social class in Black Women’s lives and their effect on Black feminist thought, I explicitly rejected grounding my analysis in any single theoretical tradition” (Collins Viii). Collins clearly depicts her motive of looking at this issue in a theoretical sense by looking at what really happened that has led up to the effect of black feminist thought on African American women. She looks into the situations that black women faced among dominant groups and toll in took in living this way. Collins furthers her dialectical approach on Black women feminism by noting that the experience of oppression, class, and gender among African American women are individually different (Collins 25). The fact that these experiences are different allows black women to engage in negotiation and/or conversation of resistance.
Patricia Hill Collins discusses the ‘controlling images’ that African American Women face developed by white dominant elites. Collins says, “From mammies, jezebels, and breeder women of slavery…ubiquitous Black prostitutes and ever-present welfare mothers of contemporary popular culture, negative stereotypes applied to African-American women have been fundamental to Black women’s oppression” (Collins 7). The negative stereotypes portrayed in Collins are an indication of how African-American women have become targets of oppression by white male elites. Elite white males also known as, ‘Dominant groups’ are constantly coming up with ideas to put African-American women from ever climbing up the social ladder. To keep black women from ever having any type of power allow these negative ‘controlling images’ to pass on in society (Collins 7).

Tags: Group One · Jennifer M

Power and Black Feminist thought

September 16th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Power in Patricia Hill Collins Black Feminist Thought is summarized in chapter 12 “Towards a politics of empowerment” in which she explains that there are two main theoretical frameworks on power relation that Black feminist theory exists within. The first is one in which “groups with greater power oppress those with lesser amounts.” while the later is conceptualizing power as something that isn’t possessed but instead is “an intangible entity that circulates within a particular matrix of domination and to which individuals stand in varying relationships.” (Collins, 2009, p. 292) She argues that these perspectives should be viewed as complimentary much in the same way that Black feminist theory approaches oppression as dialectic.  Thus she breaks down the dialectical perspective of power into four intersecting domains of power: structural, interpersonal, disciplinary, and hegemonic.  Her discussion of power makes the point that power isn’t a unidirectional force rather it operates in many seemly contradictory ways.  Thus Collin’s power theory analyzes the different sources and avenues of power and how to they operate synergistically.

 

The structural domain of power is best conceptualized as the domain of social institutions.  These institutions historically utilized segregation to prevent women of color from employing their rights as citizens. In recent years, however, these institutions have utilized the rhetoric of color-blindness and its sibling gender-neutrality to delegitimize discussion of the wealth gap and make such disparities an individual’s problem rather than a social injustice. In this way, institutionalized racism and sexism belong to the structural domain of power.  The most interesting aspect of this power relation is the way that the power which institutionalized oppression holds is an “intangible entity,” yet it is utilizing the same discourse that dominant groups have used to justify oppressing other less powerful groups namely erasing themselves from the equation. Thus often it isn’t gender studies but women studies as why study men when they’re the norm.

 

The interpersonal domain of power operates in a similarly intricate way through social interactions.  In the interpersonal domain people utilize power in a “systematic, recurrent, and so familiar [way] that they often go unnoticed.”(Collins, 2009, p. 307)  Though people utilize power on an interpersonal level this power comes from many sources especially in modern times.  An excellent example of cross over is through institutionalized oppression’s interaction with colorblindness and gender-neutrality in which talk of discrimination can be dismissed as irrelevant.

 

The disciplinary domain of power operates through the organization of social institutions such as bureaucracy.  Institutions are ordered in such a way as to prevent deviation from the status quo, which in this case is one of inequality.  Collins calls the force which works to police black women “surveillance”(Collins, 2009, p. 299) and in doing so draws on the discourses of the interpersonal domain of power and the idea of the white male gaze.  The disciplinary also interacts with the structural to divide black feminist theory and black female activism ironically through the methods of resistance within the disciplinary domain.  For as black women attempt to gain positions of authority through the bureaucracy, Collins notes, “[a] different set of rules may be applied to them that distinguish[es] them from their counterparts” (Collins, 2009, p.301) thereby targeting their legitimacy among the black female activist community.

 

The hegemonic domain of power acts as a meta-domain operating to justify the use of power in the other domains and showing how they are all interrelated.  This domain operates utilizing “commonsense” ideas (Collins, 2009, p.302) much in the same way that absolutist monarchy drew on religious discourses to justify their right to rule.  These “commonsense” ideas are reproduced through various media and forums through controlling images, which shoehorn black women into one-dimensional roles all either aberrant or powerless.  Thus hegemony lies in-between the combinations of each of the domains justifying and allowing for traffic between. These four domains legitimize one another while acting in synergy to create a multifaceted system of oppression that is both widely accepted as the norm and deeply rooted in American society.

 

Collins, P. H. (2009) Black Feminist Thought. New York: Routledge Classics.

Tags: Rich

Conceptualizing Knowledge in Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins

September 16th, 2011 · 3 Comments

By Jenae Nicoletta

In Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins asserts that within the U.S., Black intellectuals often struggle to justify the credibility of the knowledge they posses due to the oppressive processes by which knowledge is validated. She argued that knowledge validation processes work to suppress Black intellectual knowledge. These processes are oppressive because they tend to reflect the interests of the dominant group of elite White American males (271). In order to properly theorize knowledge, Collins suggests the importance of understanding the concept of epistemology. Collins defines epistemology as the investigation of “the standards used to assess knowledge or why we believe what we believe to be true” and also “the ways in which power relations shape who is believed and why” (270). Collins’ deconstruction of the ways is which knowledge is validated suggests that knowledge can be biased towards the dominant group. This gives the dominant group the power to silence the knowledge of the “Other”.

Collins identifies two political standards that serve to manipulate knowledge validation processes. First, knowledge is appraised by a scholarly community, which generally consists of “White avowedly heterosexual men holding U.S. citizenship” (271). Collins contends that no scholar can escape from the influence of his or her positionality on personal experiences. We reflect and analyze knowledge based on our experiences, which not only shape the ways in which we view reality, but also what we believe to be true. Second, any scholar or scholarly community advocating a claim in opposition of the dominant cultural ideologies may be in jeopardy of being discredited. Furthermore, the few Black women holding positions of authority within institutions where knowledge is validated are used to prevent the majority of Black women from collaborating in knowledge validation processes. One tactic used is to encourage these women to work within the dominant cultural ideologies surrounding Black female inferiority (272). This omission of many Black females from positions of authority leads to the rejection of many competing knowledge claims made by Black women.

U.S. Black women bump up against many walls when trying to validate knowledge through the dominant process. Therefore, they are forced to deviate from standard academic theory. Collins claims that “reinterpreting existing works through theoretical frameworks” is one way of developing Black feminist thought (17). Moreover, U.S. Black feminist thought can take the form of poetry, music and essays (Collins 11). For example, blues songs written by Black females during the 1920s and 1930s are considered a site of academia, as are hip-hop songs of the 1990s (Collins 19). Also, Black female writers and filmmakers are considered a site of academia (Collins 115). All of these outlets are considered site of academia due to the artist’s ability to reveal her awareness of herself and the issues concerning Black women’s oppression. “Through their words and actions, grassroots political activists also contribute to Black women’s intellectual traditions” (Collins 20).

Collins still provides hope toward reaching truth even though Black female knowledge faces such culturally embedded obstacles. She declares, “all U.S. black women who somehow contribute to Black feminist thought as critical social theory are deemed to be ‘intellectuals’ (17). However, in Strange Bedfellows: Black Feminist and Antipornography Feminism, Jennifer C. Nash criticizes the argument that “every cultural product black women create is a kind of theory” (Nash 57).  Nash reasons, “this incredibly expansive conception of the theoretical tends to overpoliticize black woman’s cultural production suggesting that we can distill theoretical meanings out of black women’s seemingly quotidian social practice” (57). Nash seems to be warning other Black feminists against claiming that every black woman’s reflection on her own experience is theoretical. Nash is calling for more meaningful engagements with issues pertinent to Black Feminism.

Yet, Collins does offer alternative validation processes. She believes that by being an advocate for her ideas, she then validates her knowledge claims. Not only does this validate her claims, but also it inspires her readers to resist oppression. Furthermore, Collins argues “Black women intellectuals best contribute to Black women’s group standpoint by using their experience as situated knowers” (22). Later she states that women who claim to be experts and have lived through corresponding experiences are more credible that those who simply read about and studied such experiences (276). Collins backs up this claim by differentiating between knowledge and wisdom. “Knowledge without wisdom is adequate for the powerful, but wisdom is essential to the survival of the subordinate” (Collins 276).

Although Black feminist thought is not as widely accepted and celebrated in comparison to the dominant “truths,” Collins believes it is important to understand systems of oppression in order to seek out one’s own “truths.” “Partiality, and not universality, is the condition of being heard; individuals and groups forwarding knowledge claims without owning their position are deemed less credible than those who do” (Collins 290). This empowering statement illustrates Collins’ conceptualization of what she believes is true validated knowledge, not simply the knowledge that bolsters dominant ideas. Furthermore, “the existence of a self-defined Black woman’s standpoint using Black feminist epistemology calls into question the content of what currently passes as truth and simultaneously challenges the process of arriving at the truth” (Collins 290). We all must question, analyze, and trace the origins of and the ideologies backing the claims that are deemed as “truths” to understand why we believe them to be true.

References

Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought. New York: Routledge Classics, 2009.

Nash, Jennifer C. “Strange Bedfellows: Black Feminism and Antipornography Feminism.” Social Text. 26.4 (2008): 51-70.

Tags: Blogging the Theoretical · Group One · Jenae · Patricia Hill Collins

Epistemology

September 7th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Tags: Jenae