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TRANSNATIONAL FEMINIST PRACTICES AGAINST WAR A Statement by Paola Bacchetta, Tina Campt, Inderpal Greuial, Caren Kaplan, Minoo Moallem, andJennifer Terry October 2001 As feminist theorists of transnational and postmodern cultural formations , we believe that it is crucial to seek non-violent solutions to conflicts at every level ofsociety, from the global, regional, and national arenas to the ordinary locales ofeveryday life. We offer the following response to the events ofSeptember 11 (9-11) and its aftermath: First and foremost, we need to analyze the thoroughly gendered and racialized effects ofnationalism, and to identifywhat kinds ofinclusions and exclusions are beingenacted in the name ofpatriotism. Recalling the histories ofvarious nationalisms helps us to identify tacit assumptions aboutgender, race, nation, and class that once again play a central role in mobilization for war. We see that instead ofa necessary historical, material , and geopoliticalanalysis ofg-11, the emerging nationalistdiscourses consist ofmisleading and highly sentimentalized narratives that, among other things, reinscribe compulsory heterosexuality and the rigidly dichotomized gender roles upon which it is based. A number of icons constitute the ideal types in the drama ofnationalist domesticity that we see displayed in the mainstream media. These include the masculine citizen -soldier, the patriotic wife and mother, the breadwinning fatherwho is head of household, and the properly reproductive family. We also observe how this drama is racialized. Most media representations in the U.S. have focused exclusively on losses suffered by white, middle-class, heterosexual families even though thosewho died orwere injured include many people ofdifferent races, classes, sexualities, and religions and of atleastninety different nationalities. Thus, an analysis thatelucidates the repressive effects of nationalist discourses is necessary for building a world that fosters peace as well as social and economic justice. [Meridians:feminism, race, transnationalism 2002, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 302-8]©2002 by Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved. 302 Second, a transnational feminist response views the impact ofwar and internal repression in a larger context ofglobal histories ofdisplacement, forced migrations, and expulsions. We oppose the U.S. and European sponsorship ofregimes responsible for coerced displacements, and we note how patterns of immigration, exile, and forced flight are closely linked to gender oppression and to the legacies ofcolonialism and structured economic dependency. Indeed, history shows us that women, as primary caretakers offamilies, suffer enormously under circumstances ofcolonization, civil unrest, and coerced migration. Taking this history into account, we critique solutions to the contemporary crisis thatrelyon a colonial, Manichean model whereby "advanced capitalist freedom and liberty" is venerated over "backward extremist Islamic barbarism." Furthermore, we draw upon insights from post-colonial studies and critical political economy to trace the dynamics ofEuropean and U.S. neocolonialism during the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. Thus questions about the gendered distribution ofwealth and resources are key to our analytical approach. Neo-liberal economic development schemes create problems that impactwomen in profound and devastatingways in both the "developing regions" as well as the "developed world." So while middle-class Euro-American women in the United States are held up as the mostliberated on earth evenwhile they are being encouraged to stand dutifully by their husbands, fathers, and children, women in developing regions ofthe world are depicted as abject, backward, and oppressed by their men. One ofthe importantelements missing from this picture is the factthatmanywomen in Afghanistan are starvingand facedwithviolence and harm on a daily basis notonly due to the Taliban regime but due also in large part to a long history ofEuropean colonialism and conflict in the region. The Bush administration's decision to drop bombs at one momentand, in the next, care packages offood thatare in everywayinadequate to the needs ofthe population offers a grim image ofhow pathetic this discourse of"civilization" and "rescue" is within the violence ofwar. We see here a token and uncaringresponse to a situation to which the U.S. has contributed for at least twenty years, a situation that is about the strategic influence in the region and about the extraction of natural resources, not the least ofwhich is oil. Third, we want to comment on the extent to which domestic civil repression is intrinsically linked to theviolence ofwar. Thus the effects of the current conflict will be played out...


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pp. 302-308
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