- Feminist Geographies in Latin America:Epistemological Challenges and the Decoloniality of Knowledge1
This paper analyzes the growth of gender studies in Latin America, despite facing resistance in the scientific field and from the advance of conservative policies on the continent. It also addresses the challenges that feminist research faces in colonized spaces. To develop our argument, we draw on the scholarship of feminist researchers in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, such as Veleda da Silva and Lan (2007), Silva and Vieira (2014), Silva, César and Pinto (2015), Colombara (2016), Lan (2016), Veleda da Silva (2016), Ibarra-García and Escamilla-Herrera (2016), Zaragocin-Carvajal, Moreano-Venegas, and Álvarez-Velasco (2018), and Silva and Ornat (2019). This paper also examines the difficulties that Latin American feminist geographies face in establishing their own foundations in a globalized world where the geopolitics of global knowledge of geography is increasingly structured by the epistemological centralization of the Anglophone northern hemisphere.
feminist latin america and the growth of gender studies in geographical sciences
It seems impossible to accommodate the plurality of Latin American feminist movements in a single narrative of development. A diverse range of related elements make up the particularities of temporal spaces for each country on this huge and varied continent. However, Blay and Avelar (2019) argue that political struggles against military dictatorship are a common element of different countries in the region and that women's involvement in this experience is an important ingredient of the Latin American feminist movement. Women's experience during the periods of dictatorship exposed male privileges, even inside leftist parties, and demonstrated the need to create specific organizations that could address gender and power relations. Women's organizing was important in processes of democratization across Latin America, primarily in the late 1970s and 1980s, which brought demands for sexual, civil, political, economic, and legal rights into the public arena. [End Page 269]
Despite the long history and plurality of feminist movements, the visibility of women's protests and demands has been facilitated by increased access to the internet and social media. Multitudes have used public space as never before, bringing together women from different social classes, religions, races, sexual orientations, marital statuses, and so on. In these recent feminist episodes, there is a new generation of women, as well as young men, who have taken up a gender agenda and have been reflecting upon the construction of structures of male privilege.
The so-called "feminist waves" that have been occupying public spaces since 2016, such as the marches against femicide (#NiUnaMenos) and campaign to decriminalize abortion (#NiñasNoMadres) in Argentina, protests against sexual harassment at Chilean universities that temporarily paralyzed thirty-five education institutions in the country, and Brazilian women's protests against the extreme right candidate Jair Bolsonaro (#EleNão) demonstrate that it is no longer possible to silence women's demands. Public spaces have been taken over by women's bodies and, at the same time, women's bodies have become spaces of struggles, creating urban landscapes that Latin American geographical sciences have had to negotiate, especially with younger generations.
The traditional disregard for the production of feminist geographies over the past forty years, and the silence regarding gender privileges in approaches to space by the hegemonic currents in Latin American geography, became impossible to maintain due to women's explicit and material geographicity in recent years. The scientific field of geography in Latin America was gradually permeated by research on gender and sexuality, demonstrating marked growth in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, as well as the appearance of young researchers in Ecuador, Colombia, and Chile. Veleda da Silva and Lan (2007) highlighted this trend, but certainly the advance was much greater than expected, as Lan confirms (2016).
Brazil has the largest concentration of gender and sexuality studies in Latin America, due to the size of its population and the number of graduate programs in the country. According to Silva and Ornat (2019), the growth of this field in the country has been greatly influenced by supportive policies created during the Workers' Party government. Additionally, according to Silva, C...