Megan Mackenzie (Victoria University of Wellington)

Cool- thanks for sending. I’d love to be part of this. Actually my friend Swati and I have been talking about Fanon for the last few months and really questioning where feminism is going. Our thoughts so far have been focused on violence. It started with the feminist obsession with Butler (vis a vis her roots and connection to Foucault I think). Somehow her analysis of the construction of gender (don’t get me wrong, she is brilliant) has been used and reused so many times in reference to the ‘violences’ that women, marginalized groups etc. face.

Basically what I mean here is that we tend to be (I think) overly focused on the construction of gender and see omissions/silences as “violences.” The problem is that it can get a bit narrow in terms of focusing on the construction of the field (worrying a great deal about ISA panel structures, for example) and also overly western focused (somehow if we are looking at constructions and representations it seems less imperialistic as old-school liberal feminism- even though it can actually be worse)… not sure if that makes sense but I’m happy to elaborate.

I’ll only speak for myself here but it seems like this is getting out of hand- meaning, that now feminist are talking about who gets put on scholar panels at the ISA as forms of violence. I see this as crazy and also insulting to people on the margins who face violence and marginalization on a whole other scale(yes, I do think that women facing sexual violence in war face bigger struggles and violences than those excluded from eminent scholar panels and I’m fine prioritizing). I guess our question (I don’t want to mis-represent Swati so I’m taking full credit here) is how have these types of discussions actually erased engagement and thought on marginalization and violence outside our privileged community?

In all honestly Swati and my goal was to take Fanon as a starting point for a radical rethinking of how feminists talk about violence- and how such discussions have moved towards a focus on our own self importance, our own power positions in the field etc.

I also have thought tons about Sydney and what came out of that for me. One thing was that I realized feminists aren’t always great about locating patriarchy outside of our own sphere (when did Mohanty write her Under Western Eyes and how much has the field changed??). That is what is so interesting about the research you talked about. You actually have located communities, connections etc that obviously are political. One way of understanding political power is looking for how patriarchy works (for me this is the root of the feminist project- NOT taking power from the mainstream). In the case of your work you’ve located patriarchal power structures and your friend (don’t know how to spell her name Wanjikou??) and her art is a way of resistance to patriarchy that feminists (including myself) don’t know how to talk about.


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