Thursday, March 31, 2011

10) Timmerman, Christiane 2000 “Muslim Women and Nationalism: The Power of the Image” Current Sociology 48(15-27)

Timmerman argues that women are the fundamental icons of Islam among Muslim individuals. As well, the icon feeds into the western ideology that Muslim women who are oppressed whose significant is clearly evident in the display of their veil. In that sense, women are vital to the societal and ethical order in the Middle East. Muslim women embody the character and validity that represents the Islamic nation. As suggested this is problematic because it sets a standard for these women to be the face of Islam when not all women aspire to be the icon of the nation. On the contrary, the western construction of the image of women in Muslim societies tends to be negatively associated with oppression.
The impact of western images on the creation of women as symbols of authenticity and cultural resistance with Islamic discourse is apparent. Western views, including those regarding women are often considered to be politically or culturally suspect. The stereotypical image of the Muslim women being oppressed by coercion of the veil perpetuates the colonial view of repression. The symbolic value of the veil according to western societies embodies the backwardness of their society and tarnishes their own modern image. The image reinforces the strategy of using the politics of the veil as a tool of constructing difference between the west and Muslim societies which assists in the justification of ‘European colonialism and western hegemony’ (22). These issues have produced a common ground for western cultural imperialism and feminism, with women’s clothing at the center of the debate, insisting that the veil is a symbol of resistance to patriarchal notions. The negative stigma attached to the veil; Muslim women view the veil as a sense of empowerment and freedom. It allows for legitimacy among family members, with no fear of sexual harassment or being branded as immortal, westerners must acknowledge this interpretation. 
Singh and Timmerman both discuss the effects of the western process of homogenizing third world women’s identities. The framework that is preferred over the gender and development paradigm is situating these women as the dominant source of knowledge, giving them a sense of agency and a voice for evaluating their own circumstances as argued by Singh but needs to be adopted by Timmerman.

9) Singh, Shwete 2001. “Deconstructing ‘gender and development paradigm’ for ‘identities of women’” International Journal of Social Welfare 16:100-109

Singh discusses issues with implementing the ‘gender and development paradigm’ (100) during the process of conducting fieldwork and implementing observation to women in third world countries and recommends a different foundation known as the ‘identities of women’ (100). The gender and development paradigm has created imitated framework for conducting research with women in developing countries. This paradigm is based on the homogenization of women’s identities; the deliberate use of women as iconic symbols of the displacement of difference in societies, and the preconceived notions that these women are not autonomous and are coerced into trajectory of their futures.
There are three critiques attributed with the gender and development paradigm, the first one is how the paradigm measures advancement of societies; only on the premise of economic aftermath. This reinforces the notion that women do not play an active role in the economic development in society so they are disregarded as not having a role. Secondly, the initial phases of the paradigm present a generalization of the third world women’s reality, while reinforcing impractical ambitions for these women which often result in failure. This critique presents issues of homogenization women’s experiences and offers western ideas as the only source of equality between the sexes in exchange for these women potentially losing their families over. Finally, the paradigm undermines the voice and outlooks of these women. During the process these women are regarded as ignorant for not being able to grasp their oppressive lifestyles, leaving western feminism to construct what they assume these women’s lives are.

8) Ong, Aihwa. “Sisterhood Solidarity: Feminist Virtue under Moderate Islam” Feminist Theory Reader. Eds. Carole R. McCann and Seung-kyung Kim New York: Routledge 2101. 503-520

‘Strategic sisterhood’ (503) implies the cooperation of the north/south feminist share with one another; it also seeks to broadcast equality ideals in the area of gender across the globe. Northern or western feminists have a Euro centric way of understanding the southern or eastern women lives as in need of improvement. Western feminists recognize themselves as free agent women whose job is to liberate their oppressed sister in the third world. There has been liberation work conducted by the women in Islam to empower their sisters yet this notion of continuously dismissed by western feminists; since they associate this world with giving into patriarchal ethics and notions that create gender differences. Ong argues that without the respect and comprehension of looking at the situation, creating a transnational sisterhood solidarity approach will be difficult. If this is not done than western feminisms will be viewed as another imperialist conquest that seeks to ignore the voice of the colonialised women for the sake of the western ego as a savior.
The formulation of strategic sisterhood is not a solid plan of action, given its multiple e complexities of ‘geopolitical inequalities, global markets and situated ethical worlds’ (518) that international feminists attempt to intrude upon. A more effective sisterhood would emulate the idea of working together to understand, challenge and reinforce the power issues that are associated with having a good western life.
Ong and Mohanty both argue that the best model that needs to be adopted when working as a collective with first and third world countries was feminist solidarity/strategic sisterhood. They both suggest that working together as equals rather than with pre-existing power relations will lead to success. An open minded transnational sister solidarity would be able to distinguish its limitation and would begin to acknowledge the authenticity of varied ethical systems. Also being inclusive to the number of situations where issues of gender equality can be brought up, medicated and resolved for the benefit of all women.

7) Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. “Under Western Eyes’ Revisited: Feminist Solidarity through Anticapitalist Struggles” Feminist Theory Reader. Eds. Carole R. McCann and Seung-kyung Kim New York: Routledge 2101. 446-462.

Mohanty discusses the Women Studies curriculum and the politics of knowledge in bringing the local and the global, and there are three models that do so. ‘Feminist as tourist model’ (455) which Mohanty dismisses as an addictive and Eurocentric casting the third world women as victims of exotic oppression such as dowry deaths in India, in other words it’s the add and stir model. In this case, students and teachers are able to comprehend a clear difference between the local and global. This strategy perpetuates notion of power inequality and hierarchies that are produced by Eurocentric thinkers. It also crafts the image of third world women as monolithic, while Euro-American women are considered vital, ever-changing, complex and central subjects.
Next is the ‘feminist as explorer model’ (456) takes an adequate separate by equal approach marked by cultural relativism. In this case the local and global are both defined as non Euro-American. This is where the non-western women are considered to be both sources of objective and subjective knowledge and the most popular project conducted. The problems concerning women are located spatially and historically situated abroad. This strategy lets the students and teachers leave with the notion of difference created by space and time.
Finally, the ‘feminist solidarity or comparative feminist studies model’ (458) is defined in terms of the relationship between the local and global anchoring the idea of feminist solidarity. This strategy applies to comparative focus and analysis of the directionality of power no matter what the subject of the Women Studies source and focuses on the individual and collective experience of oppression and exploitation and of struggle and resistance.

6) Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. “Introduction: Cartographers of Struggle: Third World Women and The Politics of Feminism” The Third World and the Politics of Feminism Eds. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres Indiana: Indiana University Press 1991. 1-50

Mohanty argues that the label ‘third world woman’ (1) is a criticized and disputed term preferably used in colonized civilization whose political and economic structuring has been influenced by colonial conquest. Therefore this term creates hierarchical approach to understanding the economic relationship between first and third world countries; it perpetuates the historical data of coerced missionary conquest and the modern relationship of structured dominance. On the other hand, third world women can be viewed as a source of empowerment or liberation, even though the deliberate use of the term implies struggles of oppression and experiences thus naturalizing the hierarchies. 
The term also suggests that third world cultures or ethnicity are the primary bases regarding the politics of third world women. The process of simplifying their representation, struggles and experiences are impossible, consequently resulting in western feminists generalizing about the third world woman identity. This raises contradiction that third world struggles are imagined because western feminist frame their identity out of context.
It is imagined not because it is artificial but because it suggests probable association and partnership across troublesome boundaries and community since there is affliction surrounding internal hierarchies within third world context. The idea of imagined community is a useful one because it leads us away from essentialist notions of third world feminist struggles, suggesting political rather than biological or cultural basis for alliance.
Both Lengel and Mohanty argue that power dynamics situated between first and third world countries. Lengel discusses how ethnography must be reflexive and so feminists can understand that it is no  color or sex which constructs the grounds of these struggles as argued by Mohanty. Rather it is the way we think about race, class and gender and their relation to power relations, resulting in the political links we chose to make along and between struggles creating the third world woman.

5) Lengel, Laura B. 1998. “Researching the Other, Transforming Ourselves: Methodical Considerations of Feminist Ethnography” Journal of Communication Inquiry 22:229-250.

Lengel argues when scrutinizing feminist ethnography (229) it is imperative to structure the ethnography within historical framework as well as modern developments surrounding analysis and the self reflexivity. She suggests there is a need to examine feminist ethnography holistically through theories, methods, epistemologies, and politics. Feminist ethnographers have challenged the presumed characteristics of traditional ethnography; while also attempting to create new methods that question power dynamics assumed in relation of the self and other. Ethnographers are innately self-reflexive and they need to challenge how the construction of the other in a way which in manifested in the power relations in first and third world contexts.
Lengel discusses how in any interaction between first and third world nations are always inflicted with some degree of colonialism and dominance. Feminist ethnographers practice ethnography under the preconceived notion that their view is one standpoint amongst countless others. Traditional ethnographers challenge feminist practices by presuming the third world women are unable to solve their own problems and they need first world women to do it for them. On the other hand, feminist ethnographers believe that they comprehend how gender and race are positioned in relation to people around the globe. Ethnographers must be able to adopt feminist practices and should be able to predict who the objects are and subjects of study, also listen to women’s lived experiences in their own words, rather than subjecting them to objects of silence. Instead of transforming the other, researchers along with third world women need to create a transformative space for these women. The researcher should spend more time transforming their own space before moving on to the ‘imagined oppressed, subservient other’ (248).

4) Narayan,Uma. 2003. The Project of Feminist Epistemology: Perspectives from a Nonwestern Feminist, p. 308-17 in Carole McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives.

Uma Narayan’s article provides evidence behind the dangers of using difference to differentiate groups of people. Uma Narayan argues that there is a discrepancy from western feminist epistemology and non western feminist conceptual understanding and use of difference to describe experience. She provides insights into feminist epistemology, which sometimes present dangers associated among western feminists and non western experience. The first insight is that western feminists are trying to create a universal understanding of certain ideas. Within this context non western and western feminists place different value on women’s experience, but their non western differences often result in silence and fall into conventional dialogue. She presents the solution of rather that making the comparisons between groups of women; we should try and understand the creation behind the oppression. A second insight is the use of positivism and how we cannot use western scientific research as the basis of understanding non western experience. She argues that we should adopt a relativist position which means that people only have knowledge of their experiences and would be unable to discuss anything that they haven’t yet experienced, when understanding experience.  Another insight she provides is the ‘double vision’, in this context women who experience oppression are privilege since they are able to discuss their oppression and what causes it.
Both authors came to the same conclusion regarding the dismantling of difference. Maynard’s concluding thoughts were that there was a need to dismantle and re-evaluate difference; she argues that there needs to be a shift from focusing on difference and rather place emphasis on what manipulates difference into marginalization. She argues that we need to dismantle the power dynamics associated with race and gender, while problematize the privilege of whiteness, and eliminating the opposition understanding of race and gender. Finally she argues that society needs to stop using gender and race as categories of difference, and should focus on the institutional power that constructed these categories in the first place. While Narayan’s concluding thoughts were that oppression provides more insight, but we should romanticize oppression or overlook what’s causing the oppression. If we identify the instated points of comparison necessary to the idea of difference, we will then examine the relationship between people who have and people who lack the power to assign the label of difference.