DECOLONIZATION AND THE QUESTION OF SUBJECTIVITY: GENDER, RACE, AND BINARY THINKING Freya Schiwy
The construction and performance of gender and gender relations has been paramount to the process of Decolonization. Gender has permeated the discourses and enactments of colonization and is an inseparable part of the casting of subjectivity through the coloniality of power. The notions of femininity and masculinity are themselves colonial constructs that have pressed more complex notions of gender, sexuality, and desire into a binary. The treatment of gender in three approaches to decolonization (Nelly Richard’s cultural theory, Mujeres Creando’s lesbian street performance, indigenous movement’s written and audiovisual discourse) help to discern how gender and the coloniality of power are articulated and in how far these efforts at decolonization unwork colonial legacies. Richard challenges the geopolitics of knowledge. As she claims the specificity of Latin American heterogeneity as a place from which to theorize she also guards against essentialist notions of gender. The conflicts underlying gender heterogeneity, however, are glossed over. The discourses of indigenous movements debate concepts of gender complementarity while, at the same time, using gender complementarity as a template for thinking decolonized relations. Yet, gender here remains caught in the Andean paradigm of duality. Mujeres Creando call attention to the conflicts underlying heterogeneity without essentializing notions of woman and man. Rather, their performances, publications and graffitties challenge the idea of gender binaries as they expose lingering racial and gender imaginaries that connect with state power and NGO solidarity. Their performances, however, remain isolated from the networks of decolonization that indigenous movements have established and run the risk of turning into a shock commodity.