- Feminist Futures in Latin American Geography
…Ni una menoslas promesas incumplidaspalabras que lleva el vientodeshojando de sus sueñosser feliz y ser amada,que no haya ni una menosque se quede en el recuerdode un día negro en la historia
Excerpt from poem "ni una menos" by María Marta Liébana (Liébana, 2015)
The excerpt of María Marta Liébana's poem was part of a special poetry collaboration in Poesía a Mano Alzada centered on gender-based violence and the #NiUnaMenos movement. The poem and others in the collection expressed lived experiences of violence, fear, grief, and sadness by women throughout the Americas. The poems also shared voices of hope, unity, and solidarity among survivors of gender-based violence and their allies. The excerpt of Liébana's poem further alludes to issues of social power'to unfulfilled promises, to meaningless words that don't change anything, and to the refusal to let one more woman's voice be silenced into dark and distant memory.
Violence and inequality linked to territories, geopolitics, land use, knowledge, and bodies are topics that permeate Latin American geography. Scholars of Latin America are well aware that the violence associated with colonialism and patriarchy is not purely epistemic; it is toxic and deadly. In 2018, international news sources highlighted Latin America as the most dangerous region in the world for women and for environmental activists to live (Asmann, 2018; Mendieta Menina, 2019). But these are just two of the multitude of instances of violent injustice connected to centuries of pervasive patterns of consumption, territorialization, and state repression in defense of colonialism and patriarchy.
In thinking about the future of Latin American geography, this poem by Marta Liébana inspires me to ask: At what moment do scholars say "never again" to relying on colonial, masculinist, and patriarchal theories and methods to frame the discipline? At what moment do we write against these tendencies (Mollett, 2017) and decide to embody the changes we want to see in the discipline?
feminist pasts and futures
To besure, I am not the first nor the last person who asks these questions or makes these calls to scholarly action. With the recent critical turn in the direction of JLAG, several scholars have made efforts to reexamine the complex entanglements of Latin American geography with colonialism, and to reflect on the ways our own scholarship perpetuates colonial, racist, and patriarchal modes of thinking [End Page 215] and doing geography (Finn & Hanson, 2017; see also JLAG Volume 18, no. 3). The newly expanded and diversified editorial board has also promoted a plurality of scholarly ideas within the journal. At this point in time, all critical geographers with self-reflective practices should recognize that Latin American geography was built on scholarly traditions that are colonial, masculinist, and patriarchal. These connections have been noted time and again by feminist scholars, development scholars, political ecologists, migration scholars, and many others (e.g., Sluyter, 2001; Sundberg, 2003; Lander, 2006; Curiel, 2007; Maldonado-Torres, 2008; Moraña, Dussel, & Jáuregui, 2008; Finn & Hanson, 2017). In particular, feminist critiques have clearly outlined the past connections of Latin American geography to overtly objectivist science that privileges men's work and voices over those of women, and in which Latin American places and peoples were/are observed as objects of study for Northern theory-making (Rose, 1997; Sundberg, 2003; Pearson & Crane, 2017).
Tracing this scholarly history is important, but it has never been enough and will never be enough to simply recognize the connections of scholarly work to patriarchy and colonialism (Paredes, 2010). Paying lip service to critical scholarship means little to the discipline if it is not accompanied by significant changes to one's own practices, and feminist scholars have been among the most persistent in reminding critical geographers of this reality (Collins, 2000; Mollett & Faria, 2013). While critical geographers do not claim to be neutral or impartial, few of us do much better than to frame violence against women, migrants, or indigenous groups as more than regional problems to be understood within Western and/or liberal theories of justice, development, geopolitics, feminism...