Blogging the Theoretical

Mohanty & Knowledge

October 7, 2011 · 1 Comment

The conceptualization of knowledge is constantly brought up in Chandra Mohanty’s Feminism Without Borders. Historically, our higher education system has reiterated who is considered powerful in our society, while also relying on the knowledge we are raised around to influence our educational experience. The development of the current higher education system has led to individual spaces for women to be able to express their knowledge in an area called “the academy”.

This academy revolves around the idea that “for knowledge, the very act of knowing, is related to the power of self-definition” (195) and focuses specifically on women’s studies, black studies, and ethnic studies. Mohanty argues that as a result of the Reagan-Bush era, these particular studies are marginalized due to the reformulation of race and gender as individual characteristics and attitudes. However, these particular fields provide “a space for historically silenced peoples to construct knowledge” (195) and due to political movements, society has been able to dissect the typical form of education and reformed the way that knowledge is created and learned.

These changes across systems do not just exist within the United States, but across the world. Mohanty discusses her experiences in the US along with India by saying she believes that “meanings of the “personal” are not static, but that they change through experience, and with knowledge” (191). These experiences exist in the theory of understanding each other’s differences and building to make them influence our knowledge in a positive way. Although this racial knowledge may only come to us subconsciously, it continues a vicious cycle of opinions based on race, class, gender, nation, sexuality, and colonialism. By dissecting the view of “whiteness” (191), society can analyze power, equality, and justice in developed countries such as the United States and across the world in India.

Mohanty discusses the popular discourse as the intersection between power and knowledge. In terms of Feminism Without Borders, this discourse is the validation of other systems and their existence. It exists based on how it constitutes our identity in our daily lives, the collective action we take to change it, and its pedagogical teachings throughout society. This discourse can be changed through women and their development of knowledge turning into activism. If women are able to individually conceptualize the controlling images of society, their role in the higher education system, and how they affect our knowledge, then they can create policies, ideas, and development. Whether using examples from India or the United States, and whether discussing the image of Third World Women or feminists today, these changes are necessary and imminent for society and its knowledge.

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

– Emily Marvin

Categories: Emily · Group Three

1 response so far ↓

  •   mvlave09 // Oct 10th 2011 at 11:05 am

    I think you did a really good job at laying out the higher education system and how it has changed over time as well as over borders. I felt that that was an important theme in that chapter and also how it tied into power is obtained. I think that you could have included how globalization and privatization affects the higher education institutions and how it perpetuates a certain type of knowledge and ideology.

    But really good job!! Hope you are feeling better!


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