Left-wing Radicalization – Joseane Santos da Costa (SEED-AL/UFS) and Sâmara Cavalcante Rocha’s (SME-AR/UFS) review of “A Decolonial Feminism” by Françoise Vergès

Françoise Vergès (2020) | Imagem: Anthony Francin/Divulgação

Abstract: Um Feminismo Decolonial by Françoise Vergès presents a critical analysis of traditional and Eurocentric feminism and proposes a decolonial feminism that takes into account the history, culture, and experiences of non-white and colonized women. In addition to presenting Vergès’ vision of radical feminism and the role of women in social transformation, the book addresses the definition of decolonial feminism and how it differs from other feminist approaches. The book also discusses the evolution of feminism towards a civilizing feminism of the 21st century and the possibilities of building a more egalitarian and just society.

Keywords: Decolonial Feminism, Traditional Feminism, Women.


Um feminismo decolonial by Françoise Vergès is a manifesto that addresses decolonial political feminism. The book seeks to defend a feminism that is anti-patriarchal, anti-colonial and anti-capitalist, aiming to broaden the horizons of freedom and equality. Vergès supports the movement of racialized intellectuals who seek to make feminism a radical theory against capitalism, racism and sexism, without imposing one form of domination over the other.

The book begins with an introduction by professor Flávia Rios, who presents the topics addressed, followed by a note by the translators and the preface for the Brazilian edition. The core of the book is formed by the introduction – “Invisibles, they “open the city” – and by two chapters: “Defining a field: Decolonial Feminism” and “The Evolution towards a Civilizing Feminism of the 21st Century”.

Françoise Vergès was born in Paris, France, in 1952. She is a political scientist, historian and activist specializing in postcolonial studies. She grew up on Reunion Island, lived in Algeria, Mexico and England. From 2009 to 2012, she chaired the French National Committee for the Preservation of the Memory and History of Slavery. Vergès has published many articles on Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, abolitionism, colonial and postcolonial psychiatry, memories of slavery, the creolization process in the Indian Ocean, and new forms of colonization and racialization.

In the preface to the Brazilian edition, Vergès highlights the essential work carried out by women of color in cleaning, which sustains patriarchy and racial and neoliberal capitalism. This work remains invisible, poorly paid and underqualified, despite being fundamental to the maintenance of the capitalist world.

In the first chapter, Vergès warns about the shift of feminism from one of the driving forces of left-wing to right-wing ideologies. She questions what is behind this ideological shift, when feminism became white and imperialist and how women’s rights became an asset in the hands of the state and imperialism, pushing forward the civilizing mission.

The author situates her work as a continuation of critical works of feminism from the Global South, which address gender issues and women’s struggle. She criticizes what she calls “civilizing feminism”, which seeks to impose a unique ideology on women’s rights, perpetuating class, gender and racial oppression. Instead, the author advocates a decolonial feminism that aims to destroy racism, capitalism, and imperialism.

Vergès (2020) argues that decolonial feminism means being faithful to the struggle of women from the Global South who preceded us, including those enslaved during the colonial period. It recognizes that current aggressions against women are a manifestation of the destructive violence of capitalism and not just male domination. Decolonial feminism poses a threat to authoritarian regimes that support absolutist economic capitalism.

In the second chapter, the author examines the elements that contribute to justify the differences between the views on feminism. On the one hand, there is the feminism that underpins middle-class white women and their struggles for gender and class equality. On the other hand, the author points out that this feminism does not fully address the issues of racialized women, whose freedoms and occupations are still based on their origins and skin color.

The author begins the chapter by analyzing discrimination and the oppressive role of civilizing feminisms, especially in relation to the use of the headscarf in France. She argues that this type of feminism only reflects colonial conceptions and rejects any culture, intellectuality or worldview that does not come from the Global North. The author highlights the coloniality of the civilizing feminist discourse, which exalts European women as responsible for feminist achievements and does not admit foreign interference. She claims that any criticism of this aspect is seen as cultural relativism and that only what is promoted by Europe is considered primordial for the rest of the world.

The author focuses her attention on the value of racialized women and their struggles, especially those related to Islamic culture, such as the “law of fathers and brothers”, forced marriages, veiling and genital mutilation.

She criticizes the movements that end up making the female figures of the past invisible or even erasing them, restricting the role of women within black movements, for example, only as companions of illustrious figures or as “that mother”, whose function is to organize, but never receiving its real importance in the process.

Vergès claims that, even within black movements, black women were accused of being disloyal when fighting for their spaces, as they were only expected to support and remain submissive to male power. According to Divine K. (co-founder of AfroFem), “when Afro women oppose Afro men, they are accused of acting as a source of division, of playing into the colonizers’ game” [INSERT PAGE NUMBER]. The author concludes by noting that the trajectory of feminist movements was different between European feminists and women of color, both in the past and in present results and ongoing processes.

Vergès’ work covers the theme of decoloniality and its processes, seeking a broad analysis that explains both the process of feminism and the reinvention and restructuring of feminist struggles in more specific fields that are little explored in academic literature. However, the text is divided into small subtopics, which can lead to confusion of terms, meanings and analytical constructions, becoming a tangle of ideas and sources. Although rich in information, the text ends up getting lost by not going deep enough into the theme of decoloniality within the feminist field, especially in the 21st century.

Summary of Um feminismo decolonial

  • Por um feminismo radical
  • Nota da tradução
  • Prefácio à edição brasileira
  • Invisíveis, elas “abrem a cidade”
  • 2. Definir um campo: O feminismo decolonial
  • 3. A Evolução para um feminismo civilizatório do século XXI
  • Sobre a autora
  • Créditos

Reviewer
Joseane Santos da Costa is a History teacher at the Secretaria Estadual de Educação de Alagoas, working at the Escola Estadual Professor Silvério, with experience in Quilombola School Education. She is a Master’s student in History Teaching at the Professional Master’s Program in History (PROFHISTÓRIA) at the Universidade Federal de Sergipe. ID LATTES:  http://lattes.cnpq.br/0599141420791143; ID ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6543-0883. E-mail:[email protected].

Reviewer

Sâmara Cavalcante Rocha is a History teacher in the Rede Pública Municipal de Educação de Arapiraca/AL, currently working in the Escola Estadual Artur Ramos with experience in Heritage Education and Archeology in partnership with the company ARARQ Consultoria and taking a Master’s degree in History, with the Professional Master’s in History Teaching (ProfHistória/UFS). Redes sociais: @sam.cavalcante. ID LATTES: http://lattes.cnpq.br/7834161584796135; ID ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2187-2724. E-mail: [email protected].


To cite this review

VERGÈS, Françoise. Um feminismo decolonial. São Paulo: Ubu Editora, 2020. 144 pp. Review by: COSTA, Joseane Santos da; ROCHA, Sâmara Cavalcante. Left-wing Radicalization. Crítica Historiográfica. Natal, v.3, n.12, Jul./Aug., 2023. Available at <https://www.criticahistoriografica.com.br/en/left-wing-radicalization-joseane-santos-da-costa-seed-al-ufs-and-samara-cavalcante-rochas-sme-ar-ufs-review-of-a-decolonial-feminism-by-francoise-verges/> DOI:


© – Authors who publish in Historiographical Criticism agree to the distribution, remixing, adaptation and creation of their texts, even for commercial purposes, provided that due credit is guaranteed for the original creations. (CC BY-SA).

 

Crítica Historiográfica. Natal, v.3, n. 12, Jul./Aug., 2023 | ISSN 2764-2666

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Left-wing Radicalization – Joseane Santos da Costa (SEED-AL/UFS) and Sâmara Cavalcante Rocha’s (SME-AR/UFS) review of “A Decolonial Feminism” by Françoise Vergès

Françoise Vergès (2020) | Imagem: Anthony Francin/Divulgação

Abstract: Um Feminismo Decolonial by Françoise Vergès presents a critical analysis of traditional and Eurocentric feminism and proposes a decolonial feminism that takes into account the history, culture, and experiences of non-white and colonized women. In addition to presenting Vergès’ vision of radical feminism and the role of women in social transformation, the book addresses the definition of decolonial feminism and how it differs from other feminist approaches. The book also discusses the evolution of feminism towards a civilizing feminism of the 21st century and the possibilities of building a more egalitarian and just society.

Keywords: Decolonial Feminism, Traditional Feminism, Women.


Um feminismo decolonial by Françoise Vergès is a manifesto that addresses decolonial political feminism. The book seeks to defend a feminism that is anti-patriarchal, anti-colonial and anti-capitalist, aiming to broaden the horizons of freedom and equality. Vergès supports the movement of racialized intellectuals who seek to make feminism a radical theory against capitalism, racism and sexism, without imposing one form of domination over the other.

The book begins with an introduction by professor Flávia Rios, who presents the topics addressed, followed by a note by the translators and the preface for the Brazilian edition. The core of the book is formed by the introduction – “Invisibles, they “open the city” – and by two chapters: “Defining a field: Decolonial Feminism” and “The Evolution towards a Civilizing Feminism of the 21st Century”.

Françoise Vergès was born in Paris, France, in 1952. She is a political scientist, historian and activist specializing in postcolonial studies. She grew up on Reunion Island, lived in Algeria, Mexico and England. From 2009 to 2012, she chaired the French National Committee for the Preservation of the Memory and History of Slavery. Vergès has published many articles on Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, abolitionism, colonial and postcolonial psychiatry, memories of slavery, the creolization process in the Indian Ocean, and new forms of colonization and racialization.

In the preface to the Brazilian edition, Vergès highlights the essential work carried out by women of color in cleaning, which sustains patriarchy and racial and neoliberal capitalism. This work remains invisible, poorly paid and underqualified, despite being fundamental to the maintenance of the capitalist world.

In the first chapter, Vergès warns about the shift of feminism from one of the driving forces of left-wing to right-wing ideologies. She questions what is behind this ideological shift, when feminism became white and imperialist and how women’s rights became an asset in the hands of the state and imperialism, pushing forward the civilizing mission.

The author situates her work as a continuation of critical works of feminism from the Global South, which address gender issues and women’s struggle. She criticizes what she calls “civilizing feminism”, which seeks to impose a unique ideology on women’s rights, perpetuating class, gender and racial oppression. Instead, the author advocates a decolonial feminism that aims to destroy racism, capitalism, and imperialism.

Vergès (2020) argues that decolonial feminism means being faithful to the struggle of women from the Global South who preceded us, including those enslaved during the colonial period. It recognizes that current aggressions against women are a manifestation of the destructive violence of capitalism and not just male domination. Decolonial feminism poses a threat to authoritarian regimes that support absolutist economic capitalism.

In the second chapter, the author examines the elements that contribute to justify the differences between the views on feminism. On the one hand, there is the feminism that underpins middle-class white women and their struggles for gender and class equality. On the other hand, the author points out that this feminism does not fully address the issues of racialized women, whose freedoms and occupations are still based on their origins and skin color.

The author begins the chapter by analyzing discrimination and the oppressive role of civilizing feminisms, especially in relation to the use of the headscarf in France. She argues that this type of feminism only reflects colonial conceptions and rejects any culture, intellectuality or worldview that does not come from the Global North. The author highlights the coloniality of the civilizing feminist discourse, which exalts European women as responsible for feminist achievements and does not admit foreign interference. She claims that any criticism of this aspect is seen as cultural relativism and that only what is promoted by Europe is considered primordial for the rest of the world.

The author focuses her attention on the value of racialized women and their struggles, especially those related to Islamic culture, such as the “law of fathers and brothers”, forced marriages, veiling and genital mutilation.

She criticizes the movements that end up making the female figures of the past invisible or even erasing them, restricting the role of women within black movements, for example, only as companions of illustrious figures or as “that mother”, whose function is to organize, but never receiving its real importance in the process.

Vergès claims that, even within black movements, black women were accused of being disloyal when fighting for their spaces, as they were only expected to support and remain submissive to male power. According to Divine K. (co-founder of AfroFem), “when Afro women oppose Afro men, they are accused of acting as a source of division, of playing into the colonizers’ game” [INSERT PAGE NUMBER]. The author concludes by noting that the trajectory of feminist movements was different between European feminists and women of color, both in the past and in present results and ongoing processes.

Vergès’ work covers the theme of decoloniality and its processes, seeking a broad analysis that explains both the process of feminism and the reinvention and restructuring of feminist struggles in more specific fields that are little explored in academic literature. However, the text is divided into small subtopics, which can lead to confusion of terms, meanings and analytical constructions, becoming a tangle of ideas and sources. Although rich in information, the text ends up getting lost by not going deep enough into the theme of decoloniality within the feminist field, especially in the 21st century.

Summary of Um feminismo decolonial

  • Por um feminismo radical
  • Nota da tradução
  • Prefácio à edição brasileira
  • Invisíveis, elas “abrem a cidade”
  • 2. Definir um campo: O feminismo decolonial
  • 3. A Evolução para um feminismo civilizatório do século XXI
  • Sobre a autora
  • Créditos

Reviewer
Joseane Santos da Costa is a History teacher at the Secretaria Estadual de Educação de Alagoas, working at the Escola Estadual Professor Silvério, with experience in Quilombola School Education. She is a Master’s student in History Teaching at the Professional Master’s Program in History (PROFHISTÓRIA) at the Universidade Federal de Sergipe. ID LATTES:  http://lattes.cnpq.br/0599141420791143; ID ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6543-0883. E-mail:[email protected].

Reviewer

Sâmara Cavalcante Rocha is a History teacher in the Rede Pública Municipal de Educação de Arapiraca/AL, currently working in the Escola Estadual Artur Ramos with experience in Heritage Education and Archeology in partnership with the company ARARQ Consultoria and taking a Master’s degree in History, with the Professional Master’s in History Teaching (ProfHistória/UFS). Redes sociais: @sam.cavalcante. ID LATTES: http://lattes.cnpq.br/7834161584796135; ID ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2187-2724. E-mail: [email protected].


To cite this review

VERGÈS, Françoise. Um feminismo decolonial. São Paulo: Ubu Editora, 2020. 144 pp. Review by: COSTA, Joseane Santos da; ROCHA, Sâmara Cavalcante. Left-wing Radicalization. Crítica Historiográfica. Natal, v.3, n.12, Jul./Aug., 2023. Available at <https://www.criticahistoriografica.com.br/en/left-wing-radicalization-joseane-santos-da-costa-seed-al-ufs-and-samara-cavalcante-rochas-sme-ar-ufs-review-of-a-decolonial-feminism-by-francoise-verges/> DOI:


© – Authors who publish in Historiographical Criticism agree to the distribution, remixing, adaptation and creation of their texts, even for commercial purposes, provided that due credit is guaranteed for the original creations. (CC BY-SA).

 

Crítica Historiográfica. Natal, v.3, n. 12, Jul./Aug., 2023 | ISSN 2764-2666

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