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Conference: Women Philosophers in the Process of Decolonization

Thursday, 17. March 2022 um 14:00 Uhr

17. - 18.03.2022, Universität Hildesheim, online


Online Conference

March 17th and 18th 2022
 

Presented by Koselleck Project
Histories of Philosophy in a Global Perspective
Organized by Namita Herzl
 

Information and Registration: herzl@uni-hildesheim.de

Download Program and Abstracts
 

Abstract

For many centuries the discipline of philosophy maintained a tradition that denied intellectual abilities of women. As practices and processes of colonization supported the dissemination of philosophical works almost exclusively written by male philosophers, ideas and theories written by female thinkers have been ignored. This institutional ignorance started to change since the movement of women’s rights in the 19th century. But especially the rise of feminism in the 1960s caused a rapidly growing interest in the works of female philosophers within academic philosophy. Nonetheless, women that are being discussed are mainly of European origin. This shows that colonial relations of power continue to persist in our present. While white women philosophers have criticized the oppression of the female gender, they lacked the awareness of situating themselves within the system of white domination. As it is the responsibility of academic philosophy to overcome such dynamics of suppression and destructive enmeshment on a global level, an interinstitutional shift must happen in order to avoid further oppressive practices in the future. Since years feminist postcolonial theories have been struggling with the question of how to include gender in the attempt of decolonizing philosophy. Considering these ongoing debates, it is now important to go beyond the framework of post- and decolonial feminist theories that have been developed within a western philosophical framework. Examining the theories of black feminism, Latin-American feminism, Asian feminism etc. can lead to a wider, more complex, and global perspective on developing critiques about the problems we face with institutional oppression. Regarding this process of revealing blind spots of the history of philosophy and feminism, our first attempt is to overcome a tradition that denied intellectual competence of women in the system of domination throughout the history of colonization. Secondly, the structural causes that led to the exclusion of non-European women thinkers shall be examined. In this discussion, our final aim is to find sources for reconstructing the knowledge of women philosophers that have been excluded from the canon until today.

All times listed are local time CET (Central European Time). 

17.03.2022

14:00 - 14:20 Introduction by Namita Herzl 

14:30 - 15:15  Transnational Feminisms Decolonizing Philosophy

Margaret A. McLaren, Professor of Philosophy, Rollins College, USA

15:15 - 15:45  Discussion

16:00 - 16:45  A Genealogy of Speaking Out of Turn: Tracing the Philosophical Legacies of Black Women in America

Tiesha Cassel, PhD Candidate, The Pennsylvania State University, USA

16:45 - 17:15 Discussion 


18.03.2022

14:00 - 14:45 Revitalizing Native American Feminism Through Dance

Shay Welch, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Spelman College, USA

14:45 - 15:15 Discussion

15:30 - 16:15  In the Face of Modernity: Luisa Capetillo, Free Love, Spiritism, and Emancipation

Stephanie Rivera Berruz, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Marquette University, USA

16:15 - 17:00 Final Discussion

 

Transnational Feminisms Decolonizing Philosophy

Margaret A. McLaren, Professor of Philosophy, Rollins College, USA

What role can feminist philosophy play in decolonizing philosophy?  To answer this question, we must consider the ways that colonialism shapes both the history and the methodological approaches of philosophy. The male Eurocentrism of the history of philosophy affects not only the content and purview of philosophy but also its methodological approaches.

In this talk, I focus specifically on transnational feminist philosophy and its role: in challenging patriarchy, undermining the hegemony of the global North and rejecting the view that philosophy is primarily abstract.  Drawing from the lives and experiences of grassroots women activists in India, I show how their activism challenges traditional philosophical conceptions of rights, freedom, and autonomy.  I conclude by suggesting that shifting our attention to feminist activism in the Global South can provide important lessons for feminist theorists and expand philosophical conceptions and methodological approaches.  

 

A Genealogy of Speaking Out of Turn: Tracing the Philosophical Legacies of Black Women in America

Tiesha Cassel, PhD Candidate, The Pennsylvania State University, USA

In this paper, I argue that the intellectual traditions of Black women’s (within the American context) philosophical legacies constitute a practice of “speaking out of turn.” I take this term from cultural critic Michelle Wallace who notes in her essay “Variations on Negation and the Hersey of Black Feminist Creativity, “to define a ‘tradition’ that integrates black female critical voices is to be forced to confront how such voices have been systematically excluded from previous notions of 'tradition.' It is, in other words, a ‘tradition’ of speaking out of turn.”  By leaning into this observation and pointing out Black women’s (within the American context) philosophical contributions as a practice of ‘speaking out of turn,' I seek to uncover a historical framework that has the capacity to 1. Account for the history of Black women as professional philosophers, 2. Hold the reality that not all Black women philosophers do Black feminist philosophy, and 3. Not all Black women philosophers have the traditional educational markers that we often see as affirmations of one’s philosophical merit.

 

Revitalizing Native American Feminism Through Dance

Shay Welch, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Spelman College, USA

In this talk, I set out a brief framework for Native American feminism and the various modes of practicing and participating in Native and Indigenous feminisms.  I then focus on the area of Native American dance, both tradition and contemporary, to explain how feminism is exemplified through communal and artistic movement practices.  Further, I explain how traditional forms of ceremonial dance is being used by Native women to engage in practices of epistemic resistance and knowledge reclamation.  I argue that dancing resistance is a paradigmatic form of exercising feminist agency within broader Indigenous political resistance movements.  Moreover, I argue that this form of feminist resistance is a unique and distinctively feminist epistemology in action.

 

In the Face of Modernity: Luisa Capetillo, Free Love, Spiritism, and Emancipation

Stephanie Rivera Berruz, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Marquette University, USA

Luisa Capetillo (1879-1922), often heralded as Puerto Rico’s first feminist figure, was an anarcho-feminist activist whose life reflected her philosophical commitments. She forges her intellectual and political life during a time of fervent anarchist and working-class activism largely emanating out of Puerto Rico’s tobacco factories, which were the epicenters of radical activism that demanded an end to class hierarchy, private property, religion, and nationalism. In this context, Capetillo creates an anarchist intellectual framework oriented around the emancipation of women specifically advocating economic self-sufficiency, sexual education, and class struggle undergirded by the importance of sexual autonomy for women’s lives. As the talk will demonstrate, her intellectual framework is undergirded by a metaphysics largely informed by her commitment to spiritism and naturalism that understood the human spirit to be part of the material-natural world. It is for this reason, I argue, that she repeatedly looks to nature as a source for normatively structuring her senses of equality and love.

Philosophical interest in Capetillo's work is scant, but not an isolated case of historiographical omission. Hence, my research on her work sits as part of a larger project that is interested in lettered women from the Hispanaphone Caribbean writing at the same time. Specifically, I am interested in the crosscurrents of conversations taking place at the turn the of the 20th century in this archipelagic space during a time of colonial, imperial, and capital transformation. Although these women may have never physically heard each other's voices, I engage with their writing by staging conversations between them, with the aim of demonstrating how they assembled notions of belonging in the face of the catastrophes of modernity that swept the Caribbean the wakes of which are still temporarily present.