Third worldism

Kenny Mostern kennym at uclink2.berkeley.edu
Mon Apr 24 10:20:25 MDT 1995


Thomas Meisenhelder:

> Two small questions:  1) How does third world feminism deal with the
> interaction of gender and class?  What about the women of the domestic
> capitalist class and ruling political bloc?  2)  I think you're too hard on
> hte international solidarity movements --a lot of very good organizing and
> educating was accomplished through/in these groups.  Think of the progress

Thanks for your nice post.  Briefs answers:

(1)  I referred to "the structure of third worldist feminists arguments",
not to any coherent body ofwork called "third world feminism".  Clearly,
there is massive disagreement on many issues of the interrelationship of
gender and class among people who think of themselves as third world
feminists; additionally, at this point (entirely different from the
mid-1970s, when this position was first articulated), a substantial
amount of the analysis of third world feminists is bourgeois and does not
acknowledge class issues at all.  Having said that, a particularly fine
place to begin any investigation of these questions is Mohanty and
Russo's collection *Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism*.  For
U.S. stuff the obvious place to start is Angela Davis' *Women, Race, and
Class*, though I imagine it is old hat for many people here.
	In general, and in spite of a dozen or so important recent
authors, this field is wildly undertheorized.  The best work on the
class/gender quetsion, collected largely in the *Women, Class and the
Feminist Imagination* (which I've seen mentioned on this list before),
was done in the 1970s and early 1980s, before feminism became so
anti-marxist.
	A piece I just read that I am especially impressed with, which is
only specifically feminist in its conclusion, but which articulately argues
the basic structure I've been suggesting:  Arif Dirlik,
"Post-Socialism/Flexible Accumulation:  Marxism in Contemporary
Radicalism", *Polygraph* 6/7 (1993).  (I had a hard time finding
*Polygraph*, which is published at Duke.  Perhaps Jon Beasley-Murray
knows Dirlik, who's also at Duke, and get him to download the article.)

(2)  I wasn't suggesting that solidarity work was useless, or less that
the movements of the 1980s were useless--I was writing specifically about
the late 60s-early 70s, and specifically about a moment which people
involved in the movement perceived as revolutionary (for better or
worse).  Since not all eras are revolutionary eras, it is not possible to
discuss marxist strategy the same way in all eras.  (Precisely because
marxism opposes itself to utopianism, we *must* avoid the idea that if
Stalin, or the Black Panthers, or whoever had merely pursued the theory
properly all of history would be different.)  In that context, I would
look at the excellent solidarity work of CISPES and the anti-Apartheid
movement as nonrevolutionary (but not therefore irrelevent) action in
nonrevolutionary times.  Kind of like what I'm doing right now.

Kenny Mostern
UC-Berkeley Ethnic Studies Graduate Group

Against:  racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, militarism
For:  the truth--and the funk!



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