- Pilgramages/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition against Multiple Oppressions
María Lugones's Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes is a brilliant and theoretically dense book that makes several important contributions to the project of theorizing resistance to multiple oppressions. By pulling together previously published essays—several of which have been influential among feminist philosophers and women of color theorists—with some newer material, Lugones provides her reader with the rare and valuable opportunity to see the continuity within the [End Page 198] development of the thought of one of the most original thinkers working today. And while some of the earlier essays seem dated, several of the most influential essays, such as "Playfulness, 'World'-Traveling, and Loving Perception," have been usefully revised and updated. These essays are as relevant and compelling today for what they can teach us about forming coalitions and resisting multiple oppressions as when they were first published.
At stake for Lugones is the "tactical strategist's" ability to enact, as well as to recognize in others, resistant intentionality for the purpose of forming political collectivities that can encompass heterogeneity and multiplicity (208–9). Toward that end, she aims to make visible alternative domains of intelligibility—or "worlds of sense"—within what we commonly understand as reality (20–26, 85–93). Lugones explains that certain kinds of acts are accorded intelligibility as political within a hegemonic "world of sense." Such acts might include organizing a rally, marching in the streets, or campaigning for elective office. At the same time, other acts lack intelligibility as political within that same domain. These might include a person of low status calling attention to himself when he is expected to remain invisible, a person who is labeled mentally ill refusing to be "cured," or a young person's inattention to the schooling she experiences as inimical to her well being. Such acts, according to Lugones, are political insofar as they are part of an intentional interfering with, refusal of, or resistance to the reductive and unitary logic of the hegemonic common sense. And while such intentions are unsupported by the kind of institutional back up that would transform them into agency, Lugones nevertheless considers resistant intentionality important insofar as it helps subordinated individuals "sustain themselves" by "keeping [them] from being exhausted by oppressive readings" (15). Furthermore, Lugones considers the ability to recognize resistant intentionality (in oneself and in others) as central to any political project that wishes to alter the hegemonic organization of power effectively. According to Lugones, resistant emancipatory intentionality is that which people struggling together must learn to make social in their efforts to create coalitions that might succeed against multiple oppressions (224–26).
Key to Lugones's ability to make what is usually invisible or unintelligible both visible and intelligible is her careful explication of the way we all live within multiple, contemporaneous, and even overlapping "worlds of sense," each with its own sociality. Lest we pass too quickly over Lugones's achievement, we should recognize her account of "worlds of sense" as a theoretical advance in thinking about the dynamics of resistance. Indeed, Lugones's account of "worlds of sense" can be seen as elucidating, extending, and deepening W. E. B. DuBois's notion of double consciousness—even though Lugones does not draw explicitly on DuBois. Her account elucidates the "worldly" context for double consciousness, reminding us that consciousness presupposes a sociality—a set of values, characteristic ways of interacting, particular persons who actively [End Page 199] inhabit a specific geographical and psychic space. Furthermore, Lugones moves us away from the us/them binary (often figured as a black/white, female/male, or worker/capitalist dichotomy) toward the recognition of ontological multiplicity. Finally, Lugones's account of "worlds of sense" deepens the notion of double consciousness by calling attention to the institutional structures and ideological frameworks that provide "back-up" to hegemonic worlds of sense, thus rendering them intelligible and visible. By calling attention to that institutional "back-up," Lugones provides an explanation for why some worlds of sense are hegemonic—that is, why they have the power to...