Blogging the Theoretical

Power in Feminism without Borders

October 7, 2011 · 2 Comments

Feminism without Borders addresses various issues regarding representation of woman in the third world through its analysis of academic discourse.  The author Mohanty argues against the way in which feminist scholar’s reproduce the binary perspective of women in the third world “as a homogeneous ‘powerless’ group often located as implicit victims of particular socioeconomic systems”(Mohanty 23) set opposite the empowered west. She posits that this perspective is too narrow and fraught with harmful assumptions, and in this quote the words “particular socioeconomic systems” speak to her true discussion of power.  She addresses resistance and power in terms respectively of her politics of solidarity and in her words “the processes of capitalist domination”(Mohanty 139).  It is built around collective resistance tempered by a respect of the differences of positionality between women of the world as well as the recognition of global capitalism as one of the primary forces of oppression in the world today specifically in labor and higher education.


Implicitly drawing on Marxist conceptualizations of social politics Mohanty asks, “How does global capitalism, in search of ever-increasing profits, utilize gender and racialized ideologies in crafting forms of women’s work?”(Mohanty 141).  She explains how the idea of “women’s work” represents many women’s labor as not labor exploiting their production.  One of her examples of a proper analysis of oppression of women’s labor in the third world is Maria Mie’s study of lace worker’s in India in which their role as housewives and perception of their lace making as “women’s work” despite the goods produced being sold in the global market prevents them from organizing against their unfair conditions.  Mohanty notes that Mie’s analysis shows the specific positionality of one type of oppression within the greater overarching hegemony of global capitalism. (Mohanty 32)  This perfectly illustrates Mohanty’s discussion of power in labor politics, which the acknowledgement of the intricacies and multimodal deployment of oppression against a whole variety of women worker’s within the framework of a greater oppression in the form of the “processes of capitalist domination.”


Mohanty is very concerned with the rise of capitalism and its effects on the way in which this affects the way in which societies treat individuals.  She writes about how in the framework of global capitalism the “consumer” has been placed in the position of citizen (Mohanty 141).  This is particularly concerning in terms of higher education and its increased privatization.  Mohanty makes the point that if the source of knowledge is becoming more and more built around private enterprise it further reinforces the hegemony of capitalism.  Additionally the view of the academy as a place for free idea exchange allows for this reinforcement to occur virtually unnoticed.  Thus Mohanty’s conceptualization of power is best summarized as specific cultural and society oppression recognized both within its individual global positionality as well as within overarching capitalist domination which is recognized as being reproduced through the institutional sources of knowledge shielded from criticism by dominant representations of academic purpose.


Mohanty, Chandra. Feminism without Boarders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2003. Print.



Categories: Group One · Rich

2 responses so far ↓

  •   janico08 // Oct 9th 2011 at 10:36 am


    I think you have done a great job of describing how Mohanty conceptualizes power. I think you have captured the major ideas very well. I think some of your sentences seem to run-on a bit. So you might want to think about splitting them up and changing around the sentence structures.


  •   ahvang08 // Oct 9th 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Fabulous job, I always enjoy reading your blogs. It might be beneficial to talk a little bit about power in patriarchal societies. I like that you use examples to emphasize your point. Mohanty also talks about women gaining positions of high authority to kind of break down the system it might help to note information on that. Also just emphasize the capitalist power over third world countries in order to prove Mohanty’s whole theory.

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