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  • Editors' Introduction Tango Dancing with María LugonesToward Decolonial Feminisms
  • Emma Velez (bio) and Nancy Tuana (bio)

Instead of starting from my own peopled ground, I want to start coalitionally, following selves in relation inhabiting the tension of the colonial difference from socialites to which one is and from those to which one is not an insider, learning other resisters at the colonial difference, from the perspective of subalternity.

lugones 2011, 83

A Prelude

This special issue is a response to María Lugones's provocative invitation to engage in a methodological move toward decolonial feminisms in the attempt to philosophize about the ways race and gender intersect and inter-mesh. As editors of this special issue, we believe that Lugones's challenge is especially important for those interested in liberatory philosophies, broadly, and the critical philosophy of race and feminist thought, specifically.

The authors gathered here offer provocative reflections on the myriad impacts of philosopher, activist, and popular educator, María Lugones. The [End Page 1] articles included emerged from a nexus of conversations that began at the conference, "Towards Decolonial Feminisms: A Conference Inspired by the work of María Lugones," held at The Pennsylvania State University in 2018. In co-organizing the conference, we (the editors) and those in attendance accepted Lugones's challenge to think toward what is required to take up the demanding coalitional work of decolonial feminisms. Lugones has long called on her readers to attend to multiple worlds of sense and the importance of what she has called "deep coalitions" for liberatory theory and praxis (Lugones 2003). More recently, Lugones's work has inspired renewed attention to the effects of colonization on categorizations of people according to race, gender, and sexuality. Through her analysis of what she has termed the coloniality of gender, Lugones underscores the importance of simultaneous engagement with feminist and decolonial philosophy in order to understand systems of oppression as complex interactions of powerful economic, racializing, and gendering policies and practices.

We have organized this introduction into four parts. In the first part, we locate decolonial feminism more broadly within what we will call anti-colonial philosophies by differentiating decolonial philosophy from post-colonial philosophy and decolonial feminism from postcolonial feminism. Second, we point to what we take to be the particular methodological commitments of decolonial feminism as articulated by Lugones. Then, we focus on Lugones's analysis of the coloniality of gender and the colonial/modern gender system in order to demonstrate how her analysis contributes to the critical philosophy of race. Third, we outline our vision for the contributions the authors make in this special issue. Specifically, we sketch out the contours of the decolonial feminist philosophies that emerge within this particular special issue. Fourth, we briefly discuss the organization of the special issue. Inspired by the centrality of the rhythms of her coalitional ethos that saturate her oeuvre as well as her affection for dancing the tango, we group the papers together with such movements in mind.

Paso Primero/First Pass: Situating Decolonial Feminism

There has been a great deal of theoretical work in a myriad of contexts and traditions that has at its core a critique of the histories, impacts, and experience of colonialism across the world. Though many of these dialogues span centuries, the development of work critical of the legacies and impacts of [End Page 2] colonialism in philosophy is relatively new, particularly to the mainstream scene of the discipline. By sketching a topography in which to locate decolonial feminisms, our intent is not to produce an exhaustive or conclusive account of philosophies that are critical of colonialism. Rather, our hope is to generate distinctions that remain attentive to the particularity of specific sites, contexts, histories, and experiences of colonialism and the way these impact the workings of coloniality. Doing so allows us to draw out what we take to be the contributions made by Lugones's articulation of decolonial feminism as well as by the authors of this special issue. To do this work in the spirit of a decolonial feminist methodology, we believe that it is imperative to first check our desires for grand narratives and origin stories that neatly unpack...


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