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  • IntroductionToward Planetary Decolonial Feminisms
  • Marcelle Maese-Cohen (bio)

The title of this dossier honors the social activism and political philosophy of the coalitional project of decolonial feminisms. While those involved in this conversation have for the most part been located in geographical spaces regularly referred to as the United States and Latin America (particularly Bolivia and Mexico), the central question that motivates our solidarity—what does it mean, as Laura Pérez writes in her essay here, “to engage in decolonizing coalitions that take feminist queer of color critical thought seriously as central to the work of decolonization?”—is one that is necessarily posed between and beyond these reified time-spaces. The contributions to feminist thinking made in this dossier by scholar-activists working in and across the contexts of Bolivia, the United States, Korea, Japan, India, and France can perhaps best be understood as moving between the “post” and the “de” colonial; beyond the reification of our globe toward a version of what Gayatri Spivak has named planetarity.1 I put emphasis here on placing postcolonial studies in conversation with decoloniality, rather than “introducing” decolonial feminisms as a new and therefore more accurate or universal way of unthinking colonization. My aim is to defamiliarize postcolonial studies by “introducing” the project of decolonial feminisms as an open-ended question, “what does it [End Page 3] mean to take feminist queer of color critical thought seriously?” rather than as a predetermined program disciplined by a rigid lexicon. I offer an image of feminisms inspired by Cho Haejoang and Ueno Chizuko’s dialogue across the postcolonial border between Korea and Japan, “Speaking at the Border/Will These Words Reach . . . ,” which is featured here. Taking my cue from their discussion of Miwa Yanagi’s artwork My Grandmothers and Ueno’s sixth letter, I say, “[l]et us embark on a journey called a [trans]modern old age” feminisms. Given the alarming rate at which gains made by the civil rights movements are being overturned by the dissolution of various progressive, interdisciplinary, “ethnic,” or “gender” studies programs at the university, this journey will be highly oppositional.2

María Lugones’ Critique of Aníbal Quijano: Historicizing the “light” and “dark” Side of the Coloniality of Gender

The term decolonial has been taken up by many different thinkers and social justice movements.3 What follows here is a particular geopolitical and academic conceptualization of the decolonial, one that emerges from, and works to bridge, two very different sites—the modern/colonial group (hereafter “M/C group”) and U.S. Third World queer women of color. (See Laura Pérez’s “Enrique Dussel’s Etica de la liberación, U.S. Women of Color Decolonizing Practices, and Coalitionary Politics amidst Difference” in this issue.) For María Lugones, “decolonial feminisms” names a coalition of thinkers also interested in bridging this gap. Our effort to place these different frameworks in dialogue is based on the claim that the M/C group, while taking “the coloniality of power seriously[,] have tended to naturalize gender” through an ahistorical and heterosexist account of patriarchy.4 While a thorough review is beyond the scope of this introduction, I will provide a brief summary of a crucial element of the M/C group’s thought—Anibal Quijano’s theorization of the “coloniality of power” (which takes place, most notably, in his article “Coloniality of Power, Latin America, and Eurocentrism”)—and then discuss Lugones’ critique of it; this will allow me to show the full stakes of a decolonial feminist [End Page 4] understanding of the gendered character of coloniality.5 While it is important not to homogenize the various thinkers and projects that have contributed to the M/C group, it is clear that a serious engagement with Quijano’s coloniality of power informs each of their projects. This engagement is one of the unifying terms that brings them together under the umbrella term M/C. Into this central concept Lugones interjects a more nuanced critique of gender. While Lugones frames her analysis through a direct engagement with Quijano, her contributions are intended for the M/C group as a whole; this is signaled by the addendum of gender in her...


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