(De)facing Patriarchies at the Mediterranean Borders: Τhe decolonial at stake for Mizrahi and Basque feminisms
Date: December 13, 2021
Time: 18:30 (GMT+2)
Organizer / Moderator:
- Fotini Tsibiridou (University of Macedonia)
- Maggie Bullen (University of the Basque Country)
- Smadar Lavie (University of California, Davis)
- Christina Grammaticopoulou (University of Macedonia)
- Sissy Theodosiou (University of Ioannina)
This webinar would like to open the discussion on minority feminisms at the Mediterranean borders and its surrounding areas (i.e. the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Iberian peninsula, the Anatolia, the North Africa). We would like to engage with a comparative setting upon critical deconstructions of patriarchies, defaced through decolonial feminist struggles and possibilities. By putting the decolonial at stake for Basque, Kurdish, Mizrahi, Black Tunisian and other plural feminisms, we are locating the intersectional social struggles around gender, ethnicity, minority, class and race at the center of the discussion. We also pay attention to those feminisms’ praxis for social equality and emancipation, to their creative returns to the local knowledges and cosmologies, to their embodied habitus as social agents engaging with mainstream and global feminist discourses, to their advocacy of human rights, as well as to their replies on the challenges posed by art and digital technology. The analogies we can draw and the possibilities we can envision in those minority feminisms that are struggling to engage with dominant feminist critique and to find their own path to emancipation are setting an interesting decolonial framework against every dominant feminist attempt. The Greek feminisms, as any other kind of feminism, whether it is characterized as white, hegemonic, radical, liberal, activist or academic, should turn their attention to those minority decolonial feminist agendas and voices, as well as to other counter-publics and creative initiatives facing discrimination, racism, inequality and contempt. A decolonized feminism is not simply an annex of minority voices to an existing project. It is a reconsideration of feminism through these voices, acknowledging the limitations of white feminism in considering their struggles. At the same time, it questions the existing representations of colonized women that have effectively invisibilized them throughout history, while also providing the tools and practices to address inequalities and exceed them in praxis, from a position of agency in the local communities and their social struggles.
The Mizrahi feminism in Israel and the Basque feminism in the Iberian peninsula are setting an interesting comparative context to discuss the minority status and the gender perspective emerging through multiple discriminations and exclusions that shape a palimpsest of patriarchies, based on social inequality, race, language, religion, cultural repression, settler colonialism, national borders, state nationalism and bureaucracy, white male supremacy and structural violence, epistimicide etc. Patriarchy, as a matrix of coloniality, inscribes multiple submissions, consent, subversions and revolts, beyond those inscribed to female bodies, as the first colonized bodies. Following the paths of such minority feminist praxis struggling with specific patriarchal complexities, we could multiply our reflexive and decolonial stance on gender and feminist methodologies, and go beyond the advocacy of identity rights and/or performing activism on stage or within digital spaces.
The webinar was a follow up of the thematic “Decolonizing Gender – Feminist Methodologies,” started in the symposium of our initiative Decolonize Hellas, see here
Maggie Bullen – “Circles within Circles: Decolonizing the Decolonial in the Basque Feminist Movement”
Something very interesting is going on in the Basque feminist movement. Since the death of Franco in 1975 and the upsurge of social protest movements of all kinds, the Spanish feminist movement has been active, vociferous and increasingly effective in its outreach into what, for the best part of the twentieth century, was a constrained and conservative society, particularly oppressive in terms of women’s freedoms and rights. The subordination of women was exacerbated by the dictator’s national project with the persecution of the distinctive linguistic and cultural identities of regions like Catalonia, Galicia or the Basque Country. The defense of the Basque language –the Euskara– and the right to sociopolitical autonomy has been championed by some groups -but not all- within the Basque feminist movement. It is onto this scene, that erupts, in November 2019 in Durango (Bizkaia), the vehement protest of groups such as Mujeres del Mundo (Women of the World), Garaipen, AMAR, Raízes (Roots), la Red de Mujeres Racializadas (the Network of Racialized Women) and Ahizpatasuna (Sisterhood of Moroccan women) at the V Feminist Conference of Euskal Herria. They express the urgency of decolonizing the Basque Feminist Movement, questioning the privileges of their white Basque sisters on whom they call to take on the anti-racist struggle without instrumentalizing, victimizing nor leading the racialized women among them. Their claims have sent ripples through the land that lies between the Mediterranean and the Cantabrian seas.
Smadar Lavie – “Who Can Publish Decolonized Auto-Historia-Teoria with the Anger it Deserves? Unclassified Lloronas, Mizrahi Feminists and the Academic Text”
Gloria Anzaldua’s auto-historia-teoria presents subaltern theorization and autoethnography as testimony. Nevertheless, subaltern women scholars from the Global South, such as Mizrahi feminists, are not part of the North American “woman of color” classification of Latinas, African-Americans, and Asians. They are therefore expected to use the U.S.-U.K. formula of dispassionate (post)colonial scholarship. The underlying assumption for the unclassified woman scholar from the Global South is that she comes from her country’s cosmopolitan elite and is required to deploy the detached Northern social science language. This paper calls academic publishers to remove the elite label from the unclassified Women-of-Color scholars’ authorship and publish them in the decolonized, emotive Anzaldua auto-ethnography of bearing witness.
Margaret Bullen is senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy of Values and Social Anthropology at the University of the Basque Country. She graduated in Modern Languages (Bristol, 1987) and obtained her Ph.D. (Liverpool, 1991). Her doctoral fieldwork centred on cultural and socio-economic change amongst Andean migrants in the shanty towns of Arequipa, Peru. She maintains an interest in migration, identity, language and change, but latterly focuses on gender and symbolic systems. In the Basque Country (where she authored Basque Gender Studies, 2003 ) her research has centred on conflicts relating to the participation of women in festive rituals, especially the Alardes of Hondarribia and Irun. As a member of AFIT (Feminist Anthropology Research Group) she is currently working on the project “New solidarities, reciprocities and alliances. The emergence of collaborative spaces of political participation and redefinition of citizenship, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitivity.
Smadar Lavie is professor emerita of anthropology at UC Davis. She authored The Poetics of Military Occupation (1990), receiving the honorable mention of the Victor Turner Award, and co-edited Displacement, Diaspora and Geographies of Identity (1996). Her ethnography, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture (2014/2018), received the honorable mention of the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies. The book was finalist in the Clifford Geertz Competition of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion. Lavie won the American Studies Association’s 2009 Gloria Anzaldúa Prize and the “Heart at East” Honor Plaque for lifetime service to Mizrahi communities in Israel-Palestine.
Fotini Tsibiridou is Professor of Social Anthropology, Head of the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies at the University of Macedonia and acting Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Culture, Borders and Gender. She has done fieldwork in a former refugee village and among the Pomaks in Greek Thrace, in Macedonian and Peloponnese villages and the Sultanate of Oman. She has also researched nationalism and multiculturalist discourses and practices in Greek Thrace, as well as gender, citizenship and creative counterpublics in Istanbul. Currently (since 2018) she is researching two topics: post-Ottoman religiosity and gendered subjectivity in the frame of post-colonial critique (Balkans, Turkey, the Middle East), and feminist and other decolonizing methodologies deployed in creative protests and resistance practices in Mediterranean cities in the way to/of cosmopolitics.
Αspasia (Sissie) Theodosiou is a social anthropologist and associate. professor at the Department of Music Studies of the University of Ioannina. Her research includes long-time fieldwork among Gypsy/Roma musicians in Epirus (Greek-Albanian border) and more recently research with the Mizrahi and the politics and practices surrounding Greek music in Israel, as well as in the Romaniot Jewish community of Ioannina. Her interests revolve around the anthropology of music, issues related to nationalism and sovereignty, the politics of culture and affect around popular music, artistic labour, cultural racism and legacies of national purity. Her theoretical perspective includes questions related to the pertinence of post-colonial critique for Romani studies, as well as for the understanding of Mizrahi subjectivities in the Israeli state.
Christina Grammatikopoulou is a postdoc researcher at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies at the University of Macedonia. Her research centres on technofeminist performative practices in the online-offline space. Her PhD (University of Barcelona) focused on embodied artistic practices and digital technology. She has worked for a decade as the editor of the Interartive Art Journal and is currently a member of the Berlin based artistic group Purple Noise. Her publications deal with diverse aspects of digital culture, art theory, performance and feminism.