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 Mujerista Discourse: A Platform for Latinas’ Subjugated Knowledge A D A M A R Í A I S A S I - D Í A Z One of the main goals of mujerista discourse has been to provide a platform for the voices of Latinas living in the United States. Mujerista discourse , particularly focused on Christian ethics and theology, has as its goal the liberation/flourishing of Latinas. It uses as its source the understandings and practices of Latinas, in particular the religious understandings and practices of grassroots Latinas who struggle against oppression in their everyday lives. Mujerista discourse, originally a liberationist one, highlights the voices of Latinas, which as a group are ignored by U.S. society.1 Often considered intellectually inferior, Latinas’ understandings are indeed one of the many subjugated knowledges that are ignored to the detriment not only of our own community but also of the whole of society.2 Mujerista thought is a ‘‘thinking-with’’ grassroots Latinas rather than a ‘‘thinking-about’’ them.3 Mujerista discourse is a ‘‘we’’ discourse that embraces commitment to being community while not ignoring specificity and particularity. Elaborated by academic Latinas, mujerista discourse takes very seriously what Paulo Freire noted long ago: At the heart of all liberation thinking there has to be a commitment to the people, what he calls a ‘‘communion with the people.’’4 This communion, or solidarity, with the people has to find expression in an ongoing dialogue that profoundly respects the people’s ability to reason and to participate reflectively in their own struggles against oppression.5 In order to remain true to the struggle for liberation, one needs to continuously find ways of creating knowledge from the underside of PAGE 44 ................. 18125$ $CH2 09-19-11 07:51:59 PS m uje r i st a d is c o ur s e 兩 45 history. This is why mujerista thought attempts to be beyond the controlling rationality of dominant discourses. To do this, we use the experience of Latinas as the source for knowledge: This is a nonnegotiable understanding in the struggle for our liberation. Our work is not to elaborate and explain our understandings against the background of ‘‘regular ’’ knowledge, using the dominant discourse to validate our insights. As a decolonial discourse, mujerista thought seeks adequacy and validation from its usefulness in Latinas’ struggles. This does not mean, however , that we can claim to be free of ‘‘dominant thinking’’ or that we can always evade its categories, or that we always find it necessary to do so. As a matter of fact, the goal of mujerista discourse, the liberation/flourishing of Latinas, obliges us to use in our methods, in our categories, and in our strategies whatever we find valuable to achieve our goal. This makes clear that though mujerista theology and ethics have used the language of liberation discourse, they certainly understand liberation not as a project possible within Western civilization but rather one that has as its goal radical structural changes. Our attempt has always been to enable and further Latinas’ thinking, that is, to shed light on the epistemological richness that emerges from our lived experiences and to value what we know and how we know it as our contribution to building a different world. Undoubtedly, we find many similarities between mujerista discourse and decolonial thinking—postcolonial philosophy—which we began to explore at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Though we agree with Walter Mignolo that liberation theology, one of the ‘‘parenting ’’ discourses of mujerista thinking, was conceived within the Western episteme, mujerista thinking, as one of the instances of Latina/o thought, has taken liberation thought beyond its initial articulations.6 Perhaps because of our condition as an ethnoracial, minoritized, and marginalized group within the United States, mujerista theology, though indebted to Latin American liberation theology, also drinks from many of the same fountains as does decolonial thinking. It is not a matter of merely ‘‘changing dresses’’ but rather a welcoming of decolonial thinking as an addition to liberation thought and as a way of creating ‘‘coalitions’’ among scholars and schools of thought that are committed to local communities and that seek to contribute to the articulation of shared meanings. PAGE 45 ................. 18125$ $CH2 09-19-11 07:52:00 PS 46 兩 a d a m a r ı́a i s as i - dı́ a z That said, I turn to the themes of this essay that indeed fall within the paradigms of both decoloniality and liberation. This essay...


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