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  • "Pedagogies of the Broken-Hearted"Notes on a Pedagogy of Breakage, Women of Color Feminist Decolonial Movidas, and Armed Love in the Classroom/Academy
  • Anne (Anna) Ríos-Rojas (bio)

It is indeed necessary that this love be an "armed love," the fighting love of those convinced of the right and the duty to fight, to denounce, and to announce. It is this form of love that is indispensable to the progressive educator and that we must all learn.

—Paulo Freire, Teachers as Cultural Workers, 41

The decolonial feminist's task begins by her seeing the colonial difference, emphatically resisting her epistemological habit of erasing it. Seeing it, she sees the world anew, and then she requires herself to drop her enchantment with "woman," the universal, and begins to learn about other resisters at the colonial difference. The reading moves against the social-scientific objectifying reading, attempting rather to understand subjects, the active subjectivity emphasized as the reading looks for the fractured locus in resistance to the coloniality of gender at a coalitional starting point. In thinking of the starting point as coalitional because the fractured locus is in common, the histories of resistance at the colonial difference are where we need to dwell, learning about each other. (emphasis added)

—María Lugones, "Toward a Decolonial Feminism," 753

We are moving on at a time of crossings, seeing each other at the colonial difference, constructing a new subject of a new feminist geopolitics of knowing and loving.

—María Lugones, "Toward a Decolonial Feminism," 756

Let me begin by stating that I have a vulnerable heart and I know a thing or two about heartbreak. My heart, broken and pieced back together again so many times, looks more like rasquache art than a heart.1 You might think that this intimate knowledge with things broken and cobbled back together again [End Page 161] made writing this essay easier. And yet it hasn't because writing it, I am realizing, requires further heartbreak.

We live in a heart-breaking world. Heartbreak is not in short supply. A quick scan of the newspaper headlines and the heart-breaking images that have been cycling through our social media feeds of children being locked up in cages and others of children ripped away from their families and held in overcrowded detention camps all illuminate the ways in which there is certainly no shortage of heartbreak in today's wounded world. Further reflection reveals the ways in which there is a particular political economy to heartbreak as it comes to be unequally distributed along the intersecting lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and citizenship, among other categories of difference. Yet I am going to argue that "we"—the "we" of the State-apparatus, the "we" of the Nation, the "we" of complicity and complacency—could all use a bit more heartbreak in this world. That is, perhaps our hearts must break in order for us to feel an otherwise, to jar us out of the lull and false security that certain seemingly "innocent" narratives work to reproduce (narratives like that competition is part of human nature, that capitalism is inevitable, that meritocracy is a reality, that we live in a post-racial, post-homophobic, post-transphobic, post-colonial society) and move us to dig deep, to feel our struggle for greater justice as intimately bound in the struggles of Others.

As I expand upon later in this essay, this insight related to love and heartbreak is inspired by the work of Chela Sandoval (Methodology of the Oppressed), María Lugones ("Playfulness, 'World'-Travelling and Loving Perception" and "Toward a Decolonial Feminism"), and other decolonial feminist thinkers who have all written about the power of and necessity for breakage and ruptures within dominant colonial imaginaries for quite some time.2 In Sandoval's work, for example, this break with the system of "dominant social narratives," or what she also names as "enjoyable systems of power" that "dull human senses with its normalities, its 'shoulds,' its scripts," is the Coatlicue state (à la Anzaldúa)—an intuitive sensing, a feeling (of love) not encoded by the West or dominant power.3 Tracing and complicating Roland Barthes's...


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pp. 161-178
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