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01 June 2022
This Special Issue aims to explore practices of reading that critically engage contemporary decolonial feminisms. Rather than taking the meaning of decolonial feminisms for granted, we ask what these terms might mean, how they interrogate each other and move in response to contemporary circumstances. We are interested in how moments of encounter across contexts and disciplines generate feminisms in continuous formation.
Critics have long highlighted how the production of the modern subject as a sovereign individual has historically enacted -- and continues to reproduce -- the exclusion and subjugation of diverse yet intersecting groups. Emerging from European Enlightenment thought, colonial modernity enshrines a politics of knowledge production based on the negation of other forms of knowing and ‘genres of being’ [Wynter] -- a politics which continues to resonate through the present.
Challenges to established canons and curricula have sought to interrogate the relationship between critical reading and living, questioning who we read, where we are reading from and what ‘we’ signifies. In addition, questions of how we read -- and even what is meant by reading -- continue to provoke. Renewed feminist attention to the corporeality and materiality of reading re-figures it as a mode of response-ability. Where colonial modernity had enshrined oppositions between subject and object, reader and text, these approaches seek to mobilise the reader in affective, tactile and ultimately ethical relations with the text. Decolonial readings and methodologies continue to highlight how white western feminism has contributed to the erasure of diverse positionalities and the unevenness of lived experience through its universalising tendencies. Critics have also attended to the way institutions are oriented to create spaces and norms that are hostile to non-white, queer and disabled bodies, not only policing who can become a critical reader but also who has the right to be and become at all.
Building on longstanding archives of decolonial, feminist work, we are interested in reading otherwise, not simply as response to, or negation of, colonial modernity, but rather as a generative act of feminist world-making. To read otherwise is not only to articulate a tangential relation to modernity but also to its existing archives of critical thought. Without understanding feminist practice as reductively oppositional, we therefore seek to consider contemporary possibilities for, and mobilisations of, reading methodologies that are in some other relation to colonial modernity’s exclusionary subject positions and its critical orthodoxies, exposing, contesting, side-stepping and departing from its violence. In reimagining what and how we read, we hope to explore imaginaries for worlds and words beyond the normative, and to open up new routes for addressing the uneven conditions of the present.What does -- and what might -- it mean to read otherwise today? How does this intersect with feminist histories and imaginaries? What contemporary possibilities for reading, decolonial grammars and feminist imaginaries exist? What emerges from the meetings, interactions and tensions between different articulations of otherwise?
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