Colonial feminism definition

A Western

1 In 1984 Black American feminist Barbara Smith spoke warmly of being part of a Third World feminist movement: 'And not only am I talking about my sisters here in the United States-American Indian, Latina, Asian American, Arab American-I am also talking about women all over the globe. . . Third World feminism has enriched not just the women it applies to, but also political practice in general' (Smith 1984: 27). The struggle of Third World women-both in the West and in the developing world-for recognition by Western feminism has been long and hard. More often the silenced objects of Western analysis, Third World women are making their voices heard and are beginning to change the face of feminism in the West. Postcolonial feminism in the new millennium now accepts a crucial point, long self-evident to Third World women, that racism, colonialism and its legacies are not just the province of non-white, non-Western women.

2 The history of the West is, in large part, the history of its exploitation of its non-white, non-Western Others. Colonized countries have been profoundly affected by the exploitative, racist nature of this interrelation which was and remains economic, political and cultural. As current debates on the slave trade and the question of reparations illustrate, history is always with us. Although the Trans-Atlantic slave trade was abolished in the course of the Nineteenth Century, its legacies and those of colonial occupation can be seen in the inequalities and political and economic problems of formerly colonized countries. The question of responsibility for the past and what this means for the present was a constant theme at the United Nations global conference on racism held in South Africa in September 2001 and nowhere has this question demanded more attention in recent years than in Australia. Here Aboriginal people's struggle for recognition of their history since white settlement forms an integral part of the broader fight for human rights and equality and Aboriginal women are active in this fight, while at the same time urging white feminists to take these issues seriously (see, for example, Huggins 1998 and Morton-Robinson 2000). In Europe and North America, the economic and political legacies of colonialism have radically changed the 'racial' and ethnic make up of societies, bringing with them problems of white ethnocentrism, ethnic conflict and racism that feminists must address.

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