January 26, 2007


Hi. This was sort of fun in the sense that finding the definition left me slightly more unsure of how to understand how the term "cathectic" was being employed than I was to begin with.
So, this was in reference to Mohanty/Alexander (xxiii) "Both postcolonial and advanced capitalist/colonial states organize and reinforce a cathectic structure based in sexual difference (i.e., heterosexuality) which they enforce through a variety of means, including legislation"
I know we're not "supposed" to do this, but I went to wikipedia...sigh....(but seriously, the oxford definition wasn't of much help: "of, pertaining to cathexis")
So: according to the on-line encyclopedia:
"In psychodynamics, cathexis is defined as the process of investment of mental or emotional energy in a person, object, or idea. This concept was developed by Sigmund Freud in 1922. In psychoanalysis, cathexis is the libido's charge of energy. Freud often described the functioning of psychosexual energies in mechanical terms, influenced perhaps by the dominance of the steam engine at the end of the 19th century. In this manner, he also tended to think of the libido as a producer of energies.

Freud often represented frustration in libidinal desires as a blockage of energies that would eventually build up and require release in other ways. This release could occur, for example, by way of regression and the "re-cathecting" of former positions (i.e. fixation at the oral phase or anal phase and the enjoyment of former sexual objects ["object-cathexes"], including autoeroticism).

When the ego blocks such efforts to discharge one's cathexis by way of regression, i.e. when the ego wishes to repress such desires, Freud uses the term "anti-cathexis" or counter-charge. Like a steam engine, the libido's cathexis then builds up until it finds alternative outlets, which can lead to sublimation or to the formation of sometimes disabling symptoms." (
I'm still sort of baffled by what this implies...and would profoundly appreciate hearing your points of view.

transnational feminism definition/reflection

In our readings this week, I was especially struck by Mohanty and Alexander’s descriptions of capitalism and systems of political power that reinforce systems of oppression. Along with this are the concepts of universal citizenship, Feminist democracy, and a politics of decolonization. I would really like to delve deeper into this in our class discussions, as I have had base definitions/discussions about these complex concepts before, but I haven’t gotten to spend a lot of time really getting into the issues in a transnational context. I think our class could be a great space to have these discussions!

The authors define Transnational Feminism as embracing the approach of a multiplicity of voices, experiences, cultures, languages, etc. Transnational Feminism means to connect in solidarity, and to work to eliminate the West/Non-West social hierarchy that has existed (and I would argue still exists) within Feminist discourse. Additionally, geographic origins are taken into account in that we connect with respect to where we come from, and that multiplicities and identities are respected and honored. Also, the effort to work against political systems that oppress.

I am sorry this is so late, friends- I am out of town doing a graduate school interview... but will be back in action next thursday!


January 24, 2007

Transnational Feminism

I also must start this entry by saying that I too am only on campus two days a week and was unable to access the Shohat article but I will be reading it either tomorrow or Thursday before class. I did not find any of the terms in the Introduction by Mohanty and Alexander as new or confusing, but I was became curious about the decolonizing process and how it would work in the context of the effect it could have on transnational feminism and identity of the people who are dealing with the postcolonial burdens. I also am curious about the feminist democracy which was mentioned and how this can be accomplished. I will admit this up front that I am an activist and not a theorist, so I am going to be asking about the plausibility and action plans probably throughout the semester.
As for the definition of transnational feminism which was extracted from the introduction is that it deals with the intersectionality of not only gender, race, and class, but culture, geographic region, economics, politics, history of colonialism, and striving for equality without borders. Transnational feminism has to be looked at through the use of scale and understanding how local feminisms play into the larger spheres of feminism. It is not about trying to make Western feminisms ideas “fit? into the lives of other women in other regions but to be aware of the oppression that western feminism may be asserting on other feminist ideas.

Unfamiliar terms

Hello! I have to admit that there were quite a few terms and definitions in the readings that I was unfamiliar with and here are a few of them:
a) international versus transnational feminism: the explanation on page xix of Alexander and Mohanty is very helpful, but I wonder if what they say about international feminism still holds true today or whether it has evolved since the late nineties?
b) transborder participatory democracy (Alexander and Mohanty, xxix): the definition of this term is not totally clear to me. It also seems to me that this is a very ambitious concept?!
c) the concept of universal citizenship (Alexander and Mohanty, xxxi): does it only apply to individual states or is it also supposed to be understood as a more abstract transborder or transnational idea?
d) polyphonic space (Shohat, 2): Shohat gives a concise definition, but I wonder how this notion was adapted, i.e. how Bakhtin defined it?

Transnational Feminism

To be honest, I’m a little uncertain of the difference between transnational feminism and international feminism. Is there is difference? If not, why the change in terminology. Other than that, I didn’t have any problems with the terms and concepts presented in the readings.

Based on their definition of transnational feminism (cited already in the blog, I won’t repeat it), Mohanty and Alexander seem to put a high value on the understanding that geographical location affects the context in which feminism is interpreted and handled. In other words, feminism in the US is different from feminism outside the US. Going further, they comment that feminist democracy has transnational aspects to it, leading to the need for what they call “global alliances?. Based on this comment, I see their definition of transnational feminism as a concept that requires a solid connection not only between nations, but also between disciplines. In sum, it seems that transnational feminism is a type of feminism that retains these bonds to be effective all while distinguishing between feminism across boarders.

Continuing on with this idea, Shohat seems to emphasis the idea of multicultural feminism in the same way that Mohanty and Alexander see transnational feminism. She indicates that it is important to recognize the differences between feminism throughout different areas of the world.

Transnational Feminism

I did not get as much time with the Shohat reading as I would have liked, but I got a little bit out of the reading. She says that multicultural feminism emphasizes a multitude of gender and sexual topics throughout various cultures and examines the contradictions throughout these cultures. There is a great amount of emphasis about the effects of Eurocentricity and its perception on aesthetics that needs to be avoided by multicultural feminism. Also, multicultural feminism analyzes gender, sexuality, class, and race in a new globalism.

For the Mohanty/Alexander reading, I felt the definition on XIX was very concise. They also point to "a paradigm of decolonization which stresses power, history, memory, relational analysis, justice (not just representation), and ethics as the issuescentral to our analysis of globalization" (p. XIX). Similar to Shohat, Mohanty and Alexander also put an important emphasis on the connection between global and local. There point to the connection between capitalism and Democracy and how one has been used to support the other at the expense of feminism and in support of white (hetero)masculinity.

This is my first time studying feminism and, in particular, feminist theory. Therefore, I am not exactly sure how to analyze the topics being discussed, but I know that many of you have studied these topics for your major. So, if at any time I seem to be far from the subject or point I would appreciate feedback and comments. Thanks!

January 23, 2007

definitions and terms

I didn't find any terms or concepts too unfamiliar or confusing; I know this class will help clarify and farther explain the complex issues surrounding transnational feminisms. I enjoy learning feminist theories, but I haven't taken a class where the reading has been quite so thick (in terms of vocabulary), so I found the readings took me some time. On a personal note I would say what troubles me with feminist theory explainations is the feeling that in my place (i.e. being a white American women) I will never truly be able to fully understand or appreciate or help with the issues other feminists and people worldwide are faced with.

I felt like the Mohanty/Alexander definition of transnational feminism was laid out really well on page xix, where the authors point out what is missing from a more accurate definition of transnational feminism. Shohat's definition seemed similair but harder to extract in a concise way. Shohat stressed ideas about colonization, neocolonialism and the intersectionalities of everything and, in very plain language, how differences must be recognized, understood, contextualized, analyzed and sort of used to find commonality between experiences without losing their own specific histories and influences.

Mohanty/Alexander and Shohat

Alexander and Mohanty's introduction to their concept of transnational feminism has several key components that seem to set the definition apart. First, they take a contextual approach to feminism and transnationalism or colonialism: every aspect of gender, class, and race exists within both local and global power structures. Furthermore, every postcolonial and feminist practice exists within a historical context of these cultural, economic, and political power structures. They focus also on the interconnectedness of relationships among people in a geographical and feminist context.
What I had trouble with in this reading is their critique of postmodernist theory relating to decolonization. It seems they are arguing for a more differential view than what postmodernism has to offer, in that we need to regard people of different geogrpahies and racial categories according to these differences in order to understand the process of decolonizing, whereas postmodernism disregards these categories, effectively lumping together people across geographies and social categories. Is this correct? Would Shohat's idea of "liberal-pluralist" be comparable to their definition of postmodernism?

As for Shohat, her definition of transnational feminism focuses, similarly to Mohanty/Alexander, on relational studies. Her explanation of how multicultural feminism seeks to decolonize is easier for me to understand because she explains her definition of colonialism/ postcolonialism in more concrete terms: we are seeking to decolonize nation states, representation, and communities.

Definitions and terms

Truth be told, I felt fairly comfortable with the majority of the terms encountered over the course of the readings for thursday. The round-table discussion was very comprehensible, as was the Intro. from Mohanty and Alexander. The same can be said for the article by Shohat.
In terms of definitions, I found two or three which seemed, in my mind, to provide a fairly compact synthesis of Transnational Feminism - positing it as a field of inquiry that, first and foremost, is transversal : cutting across discourses to bring an analysis of the intersections of communications, international relations, political science, economics - especially as concerns the phenomena of advanced-capitalist globilzation - and post-colonial theory within the problematic of the oppression of Women. It seeks, furthermore, to undue unnecessary binary relations of local/global politics (which, typically, tend to marginalize women in third world countries) and to problematize the very notion of feminine experience (i.e., not seeing it as monolithic, but making space for peri-feminities such as homosexuality, coloured gender, etc...).
As Alexander and Mohanty postulate: "(transnational feminism comprises) three elements: 1) (it is) a way of thinking about women in similar contexts across the world in different geographical spaces, rather than as all women across the world; 2) an understanding of a set of unequal relationships among and between peoples (...); 3) a consideration of the term "international" in relation to an analysis of economic, political and ideological processes which foreground the operations of race and capitalism (...) which would (...) require taking critical anti-racist, anti-capitalist positions that would make feminist solidarity work possible..." (Alexander/Mohanty, XIX)
This seems to be a fairly concise synthesis of the theory and praxis of transnational feminism (without being exhaustive, of course)
Tohidi posits a similar theoretical framework in which to conceptualize transnational feminism (in fact, she actually cites Mohanty) when she argues that " (transnationalism is a ) shared context due to common exploitation and domination across the north-south divide that allows for a transnational solidarity (...) forms of alliance, subversion and complicity operating in privileged in-between spaces where assymetries and inequalities can be acknowledged (... and) critically deconstructed" (Tohidi, "Transnational Feminism...)
Shohat similarly calls for a conceptualisation of a transnational feminist discourse which is supple, traversing academic disciplines (cutting across discursive frontiers), "highlighting intersectionality" and which allows for an account of the extremely plural experiences of oppression and resistances of women in both the first and third worlds.