Blogging the Theoretical

Mohanty: The Solution (Final Draft)

October 12, 2011 · No Comments

By Brooke Hessney

Chandra Talpade Mohanty poses a unique outlook on the oppression Third World women in her book, Feminism Without Boarders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. It is evident that Third World women face adversity in all parts of the world but she sheds light on innovative strategies towards a common solution to the oppression of Third World women by, “…[generating new] ways to think about mobilization, organizing, and conscientization transnationally” (Mohanty 140). She argues that Third World women must make colonization and domination pedagogically transparent by learning the ways in which these ideologies function within a capitalist society as modes towards practicing solidarity. Mohanty further examines these concepts through a lens of the working-class, targeting the exploitation of Third World women. Essentially, these ideologies operate under the notion of difference based on the hegemony of the dominant culture.

Mohanty respects difference among Third World women but encourages the understanding of commonalities as a basis of solidarity. From Mohanty’s viewpoint, there is no singular woman, regardless of location, and it is a collective endeavor for women to create a mutual solidarity within a historically capitalist society or else there is little hope for future change. It is imperative to acknowledge a woman as part of a whole, despite geographic barriers, which is the foundation of transnational feminism, which seeks to promote the deconstruction of these established boarders. Mohanty herself recognizes the challenges that Third world women face through her own genealogical experiences and urges an emancipatory discourse to be instituted. This will in turn evoke the mobilization of Third world women. According to Mohanty, mobilization can be achieved by, “emancipatory action on the basis of the reconceptualization of Third World women as agents rather than victims (143). Ultimately, Mohanty seeks the reformation and reclamation of the historically capitalist normative discourses surrounding Third World women as a means to promote autonomous thinking. By this she explains that, “Capitalist patriarchies and racialized, class/caste-specific hierarchies are a key part of the long history of domination and exploitation of women, but struggles against these practices and vibrant, creative, collective forms of mobilization and organizing have also always been a part of our histories” (Mohanty 147-148). This further illustrates the strain that influence how capitalism positions the mobilization and conscientization of Third World women.

She indicates that Western hegemonic social ideologies serve as the basis for oppression of Third World women workers. Mohanty notes, “Patriarchal ideologies, which sometimes pit women against men within and outside the home, infuse the material realities of the lives of Third World women workers, making it imperative to conceptualize the way we think about working-class interests and strategies for organizing” (143). Thus, she encourages the deconstruction of the historically Westernized social institutions that strain the emancipation of Third World women within the work force by examining other marginalized women workers around the world that have been incorporated into the global economy. This is exemplified through her case studies on the women of Narsapur and Silicon Valley in which she states, “While in Narsapur, it is purdah and caste/class mobility that provides the necessary self-definition requires to anchor women’s work in the home as leisure activity, in Silicon valley, it is a specifically North American notion of individual ambition and entrepreneurship that provides the necessary ideological anchor for the Third World women” (155) Therefore, these two instances demonstrate the contradictory position of women in the working-class in context to their social identity which further exhibits Mohanty’s resolution for mobilization, organization, and a transnational feminist perspective.

Overall, Mohanty’s conception of the solution incorporates the reclamation of mobilization, organization, and transnational feminism and is by no means a static endeavor. It is essential to generate new ways of thinking about these ideologies saturated in Western culture in order for Third World women to collectively engage in reformation. She urges an emancipatory discourse to encourage change in the praxis of mobilization and organization among Third World women. Also, promoting transnational feminism recognized the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexuality in the context of developing global capitalism. In turn, this advocates for the title of Mohanty’s novel that suggests feminism needs to occur transnationally as a means to decolonize historically capitalist theory by practicing solidarity.


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


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