Why are these positions important?
These positions are important as they effectuate direct interventions in mainstream artistic production (coopted by the market and fully branded) as well as in processes of dismantling interlinked capitalism and racism, and Western Occidental knowledge with White hegemonic social and institutional regimes, such as universities, museums, etc.
A very good case of the importance of such work is the life and poetry of May Ayim (1960–1996) who was an Afro-German poet, educator, and activist. Margaret MacCarroll exposes in her MA thesis “May Ayim: A Woman in the Margin of German Society” (*5) (defended in 2005 at the Florida State University, College of Arts and Sciences, USA) that “Although there is a long history of dark-skinned people living in Germany, this study focuses primarily on the period after World War II and examines concepts of culture, race and ethnicity in order to determine what role these concepts play in the experiences of Afro-Germans like Ayim” (MacCarroll 2005: 3). (*5) MacCarroll exposes that Ayim’s life was marked by a sense of displacement and not belonging as she tried desperately to find her place in German and African society.
What is important for this position and other dissident positions is that they cannot be contained only in an artistic field but in order to capture their importance and the way they radically intervene in art we have, first of all, to dismantle a standard division of art disciplines and, second, constantly take into consideration a wide social, political, and economic context of art. Therefore, Ayim’s tragic life and powerful art cannot be understood outside the genealogy of racism in Germany that functions as exposed by MacCarroll from “Negerhuren to Mischlingskinder to Afro-Deutsche or Afro-Germans” (MacCarroll 2005: 3). (*5) and this line of racism that did not vanish but was “just” modified. The same processes can be detected in Austrian society.
If I continue in the line of this logic, then Cherríe L. Moraga is perhaps best known for co-editing, with Gloria Anzaldúa, the anthology „This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color“ (*1) in 1981 (first edition). Her work is important for establishing a context of work for Chicana feminists and other feminists of color, and among scholars working in Chicano Studies and for the foundation for third wave feminism or Third World feminism in the USA.
María Lugones is an Argentinian scholar, philosopher, and feminist, who teaches at Binghamton University in New York. Lugones reworked the term “Colonial Matrix of Power,” coined at the end of the 1990s by the Peruvian theorist Aníbal Quijano who used the term to name the structures of power, control, and hegemony that emerged during colonialism and are reproduced to the present. Quijano talks about gender as biological, but Lugones argues that gender is a social construction.*10 *(10) She coined the concept “Colonial/Modern Gender System” (2007) to talk of the binary gender system as patriarchal and heterosexual organizations of relations. She argues that gender itself is a violent colonial introduction, consistently and contemporarily used to destroy peoples, cosmologies, and communities as the building ground of the “civilized” West. The Spanish colonizers introduced a gender formation system based on “heterosexualism” (a key term for Lugones, as seen in the title of her seminal text from 2007), a system that only accepts opposite-sex attraction, opposite-sex relationships, and excludes homosexuality.
The “oppressive colonial gender arrangements” or “oppressive organizations of life” that remained from colonialism have inherently naturalized a gender dichotomy. This same gender dichotomy is used today as a matrix of power imposed on Africa or on the territory of the former Eastern Europe. This gender system thus stands in opposition to the “civilized” West that is opening and emancipating itself with queer positions, while the East and the Orient are pushed to embrace a colonial/modern gender system built on homophobic and transphobic violent attacks.
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, another prominent voice of dissident feminisms, proposes in her article “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses” (1984), (*6) a shift not only on gender, but also on ethnicity, and thus proposing an anti-white-centrism. She develops this shift by making a reference to Theresa De Lauretis proposal to develop an “anti-hetero-centrism.” Mohanty develops a criticism of hegemonic Western scholarship on a large scale in general, and of the colonialism in Western feminist scholarship in particular.