With Donna Haraway, a new age of the feminist imaginary was born. This imaginary evocatively constructs new feminist subjectivities that are an amalgam of species, sensibilities and ambiguities. Despite the liberating potential of these imagined cyborgs devoid of normativity, the material digital cultures, and technological cultures, that enabled a social movement to this imagined cyborg was/is at a significantly different place in time without subjectivities. Writing on the “Metaphor and Materiality” of technofeminisms, Judy Wacjman opines, “Haraway is much stronger at providing evocative figurations of a new feminist subjectivity than she is at providing guidelines for a practical emancipatory politics” (101).
This paper intends to extend the possibilities of feminist imaginaries for theorisations of technology by first looking at this gap between imagined and material subjectivities. I ask “Whose emancipatory politics?” to point out that despite their insistence on fragmentations of identity and forms of totalisation, western feminist imaginaries of technology do not convey or derive from an inclusive politics of representation or location. Drawing from feminist historiography and transnational feminist frameworks, I insist on the radical potential of feminist imaginaries that are written and rewritten through transnational endeavours and consideration of “nested differences”. The second part of the paper derives from the first – building on the importance of transnational feminist imaginaries – and asks how? How can western feminist imaginaries expand their potential by transgressing their postmodern notions of subjectivity and agency without abandoning them? Here I introduce the “postcolonial technological subject” as a representational figure for a transnational feminist politics of technology by drawing guidelines for transnational feminist theories of technology. My guidelines are informed by Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s conception of transnational feminism, visions for solidarity such as Black Cyberfeminism, Data Feminism and The Xenofeminist Manifesto.
With Donna Haraway, a new age of the feminist imaginary was born. This imaginary evocatively constructs new feminist subjectivities1 that are an amalgam of species, sensibilities and ambiguities. Western feminist theory met a new wave of fluidity of thought that generously supported its lasting suspicion of binaries. The natural and the essential became standing criticisms of feminist identity politics (see Haraway 1991). These imagined cyborgs2 stand as a critique of traditional feminism’s totalizing world views,3 apart from teeming with liberating potential and elaborate visions for a feminist future. A very distant, perhaps unforeseeable one at that. Despite the avenues for discourse4 Haraway’s cyborg has facilitated for feminist critiques of technology, it does not adequately reflect the reality of digital and technological cultures around the world. It adds to a tradition of impenetrable theorization, particularly in literary and cultural studies, that is at a significantly different place in time from the world it stems from. Haraway’s manifesto temporarily gave momentum to cyborg/cyberfeminism, a theoretical strand of feminism that proposed a feminist future without identity politics. A creative critical exercise that points out our state of constant flux in combination with the digital cultures and technologies that have penetrated our lives (see I. Scott 2016; Wilding 1998), cyborg feminism did not provide grassroots feminist movements with transferrable or transformational solutions, as imaginaries or metaphors ought to (Arora 2012, 600). Writing on the “Metaphor and Materiality” of technofeminism, Judy Wacjman (2004, 101) opines, “Haraway is much stronger at providing evocative figurations of a new feminist subjectivity than she is at providing guidelines for a practical emancipatory politics.” There is another reason the cyborg/cyberfeminist movement of the late twentieth century trickled to a halt, inspiring technofeminism: cyberspace was not a feminist utopia as imagined (Gray 2015, 176). Technofeminism and other titular forms of posthuman feminist imaginaries that followed Haraway fall into a similar tradition of obscurity and inaccessibility.
Whom do these theories emancipate? How can their visions seep into society without being entrenched in elite spaces of knowledge? These are the questions that this article asks. It asserts the need for a practical framework for feminist imaginaries of technology—a framework that will derive from the lived realities of people and the agencies expressed by subjects in the margins, especially women;5 a framework for an imaginary that concerns itself with people who are impacted in one way or another by a colonial past and a neocolonial capitalist empire assisted by technological development. These technological enterprises are often located in the West and spread networks of power impacting lives differently (see Kabeer 2004). Depending on the location, unique relationships to technology are expressed and resistances created, often using technology. Paying attention to these multifarious agencies can enable the creation of a postcolonial technological subject, thereby situating a vision for feminist imaginaries of technology that are collective, collaborative, inclusive, and closer to an achievable feminist future.
“What is the necessity for an imaginary to reflect reality?” one may ask. “Would it not cease to be an imaginary then?” This article does not call for an abolishment of feminist imaginaries of technology but asserts their value for feminist movements when suffused with transnational perspectives and postcolonial critique.
This is an ambitious article. It hopes to put forth a plan, a vision for what feminist imaginaries of technology that cross borders without ignoring them can look like, should look like. It strives to be many things: a manifesto, an imaginary, a framework for solidarity, a productive discourse that explores how feminist technology scholars can derive from activism and thereby give back to it. It wonders how the fragmentation of the personalized political into post-gender subjectivities can reflect lived lives and the “nested differences” that technologies, histories, and locations create in those lives—lives that wield their own emancipatory politics and lives in search of one. A radical politics that is both imaginary and material at the same time, that is local and global, transnational—that sees the world as a product of histories of colonialism but doesn’t let the “postcolonial” be just the postcolonial but also be an agent of change, an actant (Wajcman 2004, 39) in imaginaries of technology. At the core of this article is faith in the radical, that all theory at all times ought to be highly political. There is no room for neoliberal depoliticized theory here. The technological subject that feminist imaginaries strive to create cannot be depoliticized when still held in the throes of postcolonial capitalism, a technological return to the empire.
Each intention above requires articles of its own, further examination, theorization, and transnational introspection. But the above is only to posit my imaginary for the future of feminist research, an imaginary that derives from transnational histories of insurgency and postcolonial feminist historiography. That said, it is also vital to position myself. Who am I, and why am I writing this? I am a queer, South Indian feminist researcher located in a privileged university context in Germany, where I have lived for the last five years. I am privileged by my education and my position both as an outsider in Germany and as a nonresident Indian. These privileges cross paths with experiences of racism and sexism in different contexts and varying degrees around the world, and outside academia, being an outsider loses its perceptive advantage and takes different forms.
I work primarily through the lens of feminist history from different disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts, engaging with forms of feminist media. Ever since my introduction to conceptions of the cyborg, I have ruminated on its potential for liberation for women and communities in the margin back home. Often the imaginaries I was fascinated by did not reflect the people I had grown up with, their everyday struggles and the resistances they displayed. I wondered what Haraway’s (1991, 181) words “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess…” or Sadie Plant’s (1996, 334) exclamation “Once upon a time, tomorrow never came… Now it is here…” meant in specific contexts where access to technology like electricity or the internet was sometimes minimal or zero. I wondered if many of these women would rather be a goddess6 than a cyborg, or would prefer to be neither.
Coming from a literary and cultural studies tradition, the following article is an imaginary—perhaps a naive one—that wonders how to create representational imaginaries of technology that bring to the table people whose struggles are barely recorded but on whose backs histories are written: terrible histories of partition, colonization, casteism, and untouchability. But this is not an attempt to “give” voice or assume a privileged role of that sort. More than their struggles, I find it important to derive from the agencies that the women and people from marginalized communities around me portrayed: their strengths and their everyday microresistances. This article, then, reiterates, yet again, in the footsteps of many transnational feminists like me, that there are many voices and that it helps, now more than ever, to be aware of them.
The goal of this article is to identify a framework for the representation of lived realities in feminist imaginaries of technology. I ask, “Whose emancipatory politics?” in an effort to point out that despite their insistence on fragmentations of identity and forms of totalization, Western feminist imaginaries of technology do not convey or derive from an inclusive politics of representation or location.
This is a theoretical article that will, first, undertake a postcolonial critique of feminist imaginaries of technology that have originated in the West. This critique will focus on the need for framing imaginaries of technology in light of colonialism, as products of a difficult colonial aftermath. In this sense, a postcolonial critique will facilitate a reflective understanding of the contemporary moment as one that is a product of a colonial past. Defining what postcolonial means to our current times, Jini Kim Watson and Gary Wilder (2018) see the term as a perspective that is required to study our post–Cold War world, where systems of imperialism and domination have a way of taking newer forms. They write, “‘Postcolonial’ indicates that (and asks how) social formations and subjectivities that follow colonialism are shaped, haunted, or suffused by the preceding colonial era, practices, processes, arrangements. Here postcolonial may refer to the persistence, repetition, or resurgence of older forms of domination (whether or not in different registers)…” (3).
Consideration of a colonial precondition is mandatory for feminist imaginaries of technology given the hegemonical replication of power in modern technological relationships (see Hamilton, Subramaniam, and Willey 2017). The lack of a postcolonial perspective in Western feminist imaginaries of technology is the primary reason for its distance from people’s lived realities. It reproduces a very monolithic or Eurocentric knowledge that, in the tradition of colonial rhetoric, sidelines agencies and cultures on the margins. As Arif Dirlik (2007, 19) writes, “The issue is no longer overthrowing colonialism or finding a ‘third way of development,’ but the inclusion of voices of the formerly colonized and marginalized in a world that already has been shaped by a colonial modernity to which there is no alternative in sight.” If technological relationships between the West and the Global South are indeed influenced by this postcolonial condition, postcolonial historiography that situates agencies of those at the margins is vital for feminist imaginaries of technology.
The second part of the article derives from the first—building on the importance of feminist imaginaries of technology that encompass a postcolonial critique—and asks how. How can Western feminist imaginaries expand their potential by transgressing their postmodern notions of subjectivity and agency without abandoning them? How can they envision a technological future of freedom and equality that is rooted in material subjectivities and variegated forms of agency? This second section espouses transnational feminist practices that have constructed imagined technological subjects that derive from multiple lived realities and knowledge forms. A transnational practice is one that transcends different forms of boundaries to position itself in an international framework of knowledge. These practices stand not in isolation but in relation to other practices outside their context or boundary.7 The association between transnational feminisms and postcolonial historiography is thick, given that the former identifies with the goals of the latter and can be used as an apparatus to achieve those goals.
I consider the revolutionary possibilities of feminist imaginaries of technology that are transnational, that do not just claim a movement away from essentialism but in praxis also transgress boundaries in the form of conversations and collaborations across borders and cultures. These transnational endeavors are situated in opposition to Western imaginaries that lie on the cusp of depoliticized, neoliberal theory, endangering the very legacies of radical feminist theorization. Additionally, they also ignore the abundant progress made by marginalized feminists toward coalitions and collaborative practices of feminist collective action across borders and cultures. Drawing from feminist historiography and transnational feminist frameworks, I insist on the radical potential of feminist imaginaries that are written and rewritten through transnational endeavors and consideration of “nested differences.” As a result of this postcolonial and transnational endeavor, this article will situate a new technological subject and a framework for a new feminist technological imaginary.
It is worth inserting a disclaimer here: topics such as “difference” and “identity” are highly paradoxical and vulnerable terrains within feminist movements and theorization. Considering difference and the resultant strife that it produces within feminist movements is a deterrent to the momentum of the movement, as it threatens a necessary collective front. At the same time, not considering difference results in the reproduction of colonial structures within what is supposed to be an inclusive movement. A similar paradox haunts “identity.” When we insist on considering difference, we go back to categories of identity that feminist theory in general wishes to abolish. The trajectory of the movement, as it has evolved so far, identifies a need to abandon identity. But in reality, this represents only a narrow subset of those represented by feminist movements around the world. It is worth keeping these paradoxes in mind. We do not want to go back to an entrapping essentialism, nor do we want to have a singular feminist history. How do we then negotiate this paradox? The answer might be simple: to consider these terms/categories where they play a role, without forgetting the imaginary of a postidentity world. Solidarity remains key. Black feminists in the United States and the United Kingdom paved the way for this negotiation during what is known as “second-wave” feminism.8 Concurrently, all around the world, similar negotiations between “margin” and “center” (hooks 2015, xvii) feminists took place. Sadly, this negotiation continues until today in all these contexts.
By considering feminist narratives of technology constructed at the margins as sites of radical knowledge for feminist imaginaries, this article identifies the representation of nested differences of subjects across borders as a significant methodology toward creating feminist imaginaries of technology that represent more and also do more than they do now. If the last few paragraphs are filled with terminology, I assure the reader that I intend to give guidelines as to how a university-based feminist—perhaps wearing the hat of a feminist historian, as I do, and located in the West, as I am—can ensure that their work contributes to notions of cross-cultural feminist conceptions of technology. My guidelines are informed by Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s conception of transnational feminism, visions for solidarity such as Black cyberfeminism, Data Feminism, and The Xenofeminist Manifesto. To conclude, I also touch upon Antoinette Burton’s pointers for feminist historians.
WHOSE EMANCIPATORY POLITICS?
I am not the first one to ask this question. Several postcolonial and decolonial scholars have raised this question time and again, some specifically in relation to Haraway and her cyborg (Fernandez and Malik 2001; Mathur 2004; Lykke 1997), and others in relation to neoliberal apolitical theories of technology. Scholars such as Ruha Benjamin (2019) working on the intersection of technology and race have shown how emancipatory ideas of technology reflect a centering of whiteness that speaks of a universal, monolithic Western epistemic paradigm. A blindness to postcolonial fragmentations of race and identity is visible, once again reinforcing aspects of white supremacy in society and within feminism. Very poignantly, Abby Wilkerson (1997, 170) writes, “It is, nonetheless, worth asking whether many white feminists have enthusiastically taken up the cyborg myth precisely because of what it does not say about race.” The cyborg is a privileged being who lives beyond race because she wasn’t racialized. Calling it “A White Cyborg’s Manifesto,” Julia DeCook (2020, 4) asks, “How much potential do science, technology, and the cyborg identity really hold for women, for people of color, for the disabled, and for queer persons?” struggling to identify with Haraway’s cyborg.
But what is it about the technological turn that has captured the imagination of writers like Haraway and others in conceptualizing the femme body as cyborg? Questions like these always haunted me during graduate school—If the cyborg was originally a military invention, a project that held in its very essence the idea of war, then what was I? A mixed-race, military child that biologically was borne out of the violence of the industrial war machine? Not just nay [sic] war machine but the very modernist one that replaced imperialism with the military, being a product of an American GI and a Korean woman. How was I to understand my place and existence within the confines of this metaphor—the mechanism of war is what allowed my parents to meet in the first place. We, the mixed-race children of American servicemembers, are even referred to as ‘GI Babies’, (Government Issued) and my father would always half-jokingly say that the Army would issue soldiers a family. Although Haraway claimed that the cyborg body is one that transcends boundaries, the boundaries of my existence couldn’t be explained or defined by these Western ideas and notions of identity and selfhood. (DeCook 2020, 2)
Imaginaries have held a very important place in feminist theorization. Different types of imaginaries have resulted in different consequences for different discourses including feminist theory, such as the “imperialist imaginary,” “democratic imaginary,” “masculine imaginary,” and the like (Naranch 2002, 65). Commenting on Olympe de Gouges’s imaginary, one of the earliest traceable feminist imaginaries in Western thought, Joan Scott (1996, 34) writes that it was “meant to establish her autonomy, her ability to produce an authentic self (not a copy of anything else)—to be what she claimed to be—and so her eligibility for the franchise.” Understanding imaginaries through the tradition of psychoanalysis, Laurie E. Naranch (2002, 65) writes, “Feminist formulations of the imaginary inevitably, and importantly, address the power of images to shape one’s sense of bodily identity and, acting as modifiers, signal that the body or a sense of self is not reducible to ideology.” In effect, radical imaginaries can transform futures by acting as spaces for introspection, can be a “place for feminist claims to be made and defended” (Naranch 2002, 76). Therefore, the result of any feminist imaginary is a vision of a revolutionary feminist subject, a subject that is a product of histories of feminist movements and the contemporary moment in which it is created. But the subject is designated for the future and is hence different from feminist lives of the present.
Imaginaries are not limited to the West or to the feminist movement or to a particular group of people.9 Social movements such as the abolitionist movement in the United States and the United Kingdom, anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, independence movements in several formerly colonized nations, anti-caste movements in India and Dalit liberation movements, Kashmir freedom movement, Tamil liberation movement in Sri Lanka, and the like have been aided by radical imaginaries envisioning these movements. These imaginaries call out for a change in the system and could take any form or genre. The independence movement in India against British colonialism saw imaginaries thriving in multiple mediums from treatises to songs to street performances to novels. Each of these imaginaries enables the situation of a free subject, a free nationhood, or a free personhood, depending on the context. Considering feminist imaginaries, we can see that they address specific issues related to the movement or develop in response to a “wave” as a whole or develop new strands of discourses and potential paths to liberation.
Let us consider an example of such an imaginary that situates a new subject. The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 (a.k.a. Sarda’s Bill) was the first social reform attempt undertaken by the organized women’s movement in India, which ruled the legal age for marriage to be sixteen for girls and eighteen for boys. Apart from rigorously campaigning for the bill, the involved women laid the groundwork for a liberal feminist movement by exploring several facets of change. They petitioned pro-reform politicians, activists, and freedom fighters of the time, including Mahatma Gandhi, who then went on to address the evils of child marriage in his speeches. The fulfillment of the bill did not mean a successful implementation of it (Forbes 1979). But Sarda’s Bill stands as a landmark in feminist imagination. For, to counter Hindu Nationalist opposition to the bill on account of Hindu sastras (scriptures), the women’s movement demanded new sastras. As Janaki Nair (2007, 82) points out, “This signified a recognition by the Indian middle-class women’s movement of the need to enter the world of knowledge production, and anticipated by several decades the demand of feminist historians not just for new histories but for a reinvention of the historical archive.” They envisioned a “new historical subject” (82) that stood against a hegemonic narrative.
With the dawn of the internet, innumerable cyborg/cyberfeminist theorists have constructed varying ideas of cyberspace and the cyborg. Haraway’s ideas have been highly influential in cyberfeminist organization and theorization, apart from influencing technofeminism and posthumanism (see Koistinen and Karkulehto 2018). All three strands of feminist thought arose as imaginaries and concern themselves with technology and society. The cyborg that Haraway constructs in “A Cyborg Manifesto” in 1985 is a feminist figure that transcends all forms of rigidity and binarization, additionally standing as a strong critique of feminist identity politics. In 1996 Sadie Plant continued a similar posthuman insurrection in her work “On the Matrix: Cyberfeminist Simulations.” Considering Plant’s work within the cyberfeminist framework, Caroline Bassett (1997) writes:
In the moments, in which cyberfeminism relies not on humans (women) but on the emerging force of machines, which she presumes are “female”, Plant seems to me to deliver us less to a politics than an eschatology; a hope and desire for future things. In this way, despite the sound and fury, of cyberfeminism’s (effective) rhetoric, and despite the power and precision of its destructive moment (the destruction of the desire for a re-tooled Enlightenment), it often comes close to a politics of quietism.
In a similar vein, Faith Wilding (1998) in her aptly titled essay “Where Is the Feminism in Cyberfeminism?” points out that this utopian vision of solidarity between machine and woman is also reflected in VNS Matrix’s “A Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century” (6). Despite the effective rhetoric and its destructive moment, cyberfeminist writings forget that racial, ethnic, and gender-based identifiers are a reality for women around the world, and merely constructing imagined subjects devoid of these identifiers does not aid their destruction. It is indeed a privilege to escape these identifiers, to consider the contemporary moment to be one of postidentity when identity is inescapable for many around the world. Conversely, for many, an insistence on identity can be a means to their agency. In such a complex ecology of identity, imagining a postidentity society can be revolutionary, but when imaginaries do not bridge the gap between this imagination and lived realities, it can result in an immature imaginary. In short, as Kishonna L. Gray (2015, 186), the proponent of Black cyberfeminism, puts it, cyberfeminism exhibited a “limited vision of liberation” given that it did not adequately address structural inequality.
Wilding (1998) points out that cyberfeminists follow a similar path of white feminists before them by not being inclusive or representational, making the same mistakes of one-dimensional theorization. Important frameworks of analysis such as intersectionality—propounded as a result of Black feminist activism as early as that of Sojourner Truth against slavery—are not considered in this imaginary. Cyberfeminists, then, are isolated from the history of the feminist movement, especially its complex internal struggles to develop as a collaborative, inclusive movement. Going back to the epistemic centering of whiteness and Western systems of knowledge as universal and constructing imaginaries devoid of identity markers, we see that despite negotiation and intervention on the part of Black, postcolonial, and transnational feminism, theories of technology in the West still exist in opposition. Wilding (1998, 7) writes, “if they [cyberfeminists] are to expand their influence on the Net and negotiate issues of difference across generational, economic, educational, racial, national, and experiential boundaries, they must seek out coalitions and alliances with diverse groups of women involved in the integrated circuit of global technologies. At the same time, close familiarity with postcolonial studies, and with the histories of imperialist and colonial domination—and resistance to them—are equally important for an informed practice of cyberfeminist politics.”
Considering technofeminism in the light of cyberfeminist writings, Gray (2015, 180) wonders if it is “a liberating concept or more of the same [cyberfeminism]?” Though Wajcman (2004) criticizes Haraway (1991) for her lack of guidelines and puts forth a theory for feminist technology that veers away from a utopian idealization of technology, what we have is an oversimplified framework of criticism. Her work identifies the coevolution of technology and societal norms, one influencing the other. But as Gray points out, Wajcman presents us with a very “tidy narrative,” and despite being located in third-wave feminisms that radically expanded notions of representation and intersectionality, technofeminism is “not inclusive enough” (Gray 2015, 181). Very interestingly, in 2017—twenty years after the “First Cyberfeminist International” at Kassel, Germany—a five-day conference titled “Post-Cyberfeminist10 International” was conducted at the Institute for Contemporary Art in London. Though the conference was peppered with terms such as intersectionality and decolonization, it is too early to tell what this successor to cyberfeminism entails for feminist imaginaries of technology.
How can post-cyberfeminism or other forms of feminist imaginaries of technology avoid the trap of becoming elite theorization? Drawing from Wilding and other critics of cyberfeminism, I suggest a new technological subject that bridges the utopian imagination of cyberfeminism and the political agencies of women and people from marginalized contexts. Transnational collaboration and awareness of postcolonial subjectivities are cruxes of this technological subject that I will construct in the following sections of this article.
The Radical Potential of Postcolonial Feminist Imaginaries of Technology
Postcolonial feminism and transnational feminism are deeply intertwined, especially when we consider their goals. The former has focused on the decentralization of history, inevitably resulting in the development of the latter (Piñuelas 2017). Postcolonial feminism acts as a critical perspective, whereas transnational feminism is an apparatus or framework that can enable the employment of said postcolonial critique. Therefore, the suggested postcolonial technological subject is a result of postcolonial understandings of power and history—a result that is then linked to transnational feminist research and activism. Both terms go hand in hand, with transnational feminist researchers situating a postcolonial critique at the crux of their work.
Consider the term nested differences within this framework. The term implies that there are differences within differences. We unwrap a set of differences to find further differences, and each element of distinguishable difference can be further unwrapped to examine other differences. This unwrapping of differences is a continual process because any system or technology reveals new relationships and impacts. Let us consider the case of Indian feminisms here. From the outset, Indian feminisms are marginalized within mainstream systems of feminist investigation. Indian feminisms are often isolated in context, especially without transnational interrogations, though many Indian feminists are aware of the precarious position they hold. Nivedita Menon (2012, x) writes, “…when we in the non-West theorize on the basis of our experiences, we rarely assume that these are generalizable everywhere.” The isolation that Indian feminisms face is a clear reflection of how Western feminisms possess a hegemonic advantage when it comes to feminist theorization. Considering Indian feminisms at the outset as an entity can reveal parallels to the marginalization of voices from the Global South or the rest of the world, thereby the use of the word our. Along with this marginalization comes the reproduction of colonial patterns of domination, entwined with capitalism and imperialism. Talking about the relationship between nationalist movements and feminism in postcolonial countries, Meena Kandasamy (2019) says that unlike Western feminists, she does not consider them “inherently opposed concepts.” The following is a slice of feminist politics in India that brings into its ambit different sociopolitical experiences of postcolonial nations in opposition to Western epistemic injustice:
Because Western feminism is actually capitalist, imperialist feminism. Imperialism and capitalism are not going to be happy to probe their role in the creation of what are modern-day nation states. They are not going to acknowledge the sinister effects of colonialism. When linguistically, culturally disparate people are grouped together for the purpose of colonial administration, do they constitute a nation? India, Sri Lanka—these are all nations that were products of the British empire. Obviously people will revolt against this, and they would seek their own autonomy, respect for their language, the right to read and live and speak their language. I’m not an Indian nationalist—to borrow from Lenin, I see India as a prison house of nationalities. Kashmir is today the most occupied place on the planet. Tamil Eelam has been militarised in unimaginable ways. If Kashmiri people, if the people of Tamil Eelam demand the right to be recognised as a nation—I see it important to support that struggle. This nationalism of the oppressed, yearning to break free, is different from the fraud-nationalism of corporate capitalism and religious jingoism. (Kandasamy 2019)
Probing deeper into what constitutes Indian feminisms, we see a set of further differences. A complicated landscape of rhetorics, beliefs, and systems emerges. India as a postcolonial country has a history of feminist organization that is distinctly different from feminisms around the world. Multiple cultural, religious, and language differences are made more complex by the country’s history, geographical location, population, and economy. Often, we see that the term feminism is contested heavily and replaced with the term women’s development or empowerment in various grassroots organizations across the country, especially if they are financially tied to the government, as Menon (2012, 217) shows. Additionally, men play a big role in women’s development projects, also spearheading local initiatives.
Caste as a marker plays a vital role in this landscape and fragments the vision of a united feminist front. One example of this is Dalit feminism, which has emerged in direct revolt to the hegemonical position enjoyed by upper-class, Brahminical feminism, which has often failed to introspect its own privilege. Apart from sidelining the former within Indian feminisms, Brahminical feminism has often exacerbated systemic discrimination against Dalits and other women of what are considered “lower castes” from different communities within India.
Within this nation are states that are so different from one another that they often possess nation-like histories of their own, apart from the visible north-south divide and the isolation of the northeastern parts of the country. The contested area of Kashmir, which has been in lockdown since August 2019, has shown how religious fundamentalism has threatened lives of women—for example, in this area, the rape of Muslim women has a symbolic meaning of territorialization. Dowry extortion is a reality in India, leading to several problems such as stigmatization of girl children or, worse, female infanticide. The global COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the situation of migrant workers in different parts of the country, either stranded away from their families or dying for lack of a meal. Within this complex territory—which I have done no justice to in this brief exposition—are feminists fighting for different causes on different fronts. Menon writes:
In India today, the political scene is marked by fiery, independent, militant women—Medha Patkar in the struggle against ecologically unsustainable and unjust capitalist development; Irom Sharmila, force-fed under arrest for over eleven years by the Indian State, as she continues her fast for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the law that enables her state of Manipur and the North-East of India in general to be treated as occupied territory; Mayawati, the Dalit leader of one of the most powerful organizations of Dalits in India, the Bahujan Samaj Party—to name but three. (Menon 2012, x-xi)
This, in addition to women who play radical roles in Hindu nationalist parties, calling for a Hindutva, a nation for Hindus by Hindus. Once we open the book of Indian feminisms, we find narratives of unparalleled difference. Each state is further divided into districts with localized women’s development agendas and infrastructures. The further we probe beyond borders, the more we understand how nested these differences are. The image of nested differences here is only to invoke the complexity of feminisms around the world, an effort to show how deep our networks should run. Here I want to clarify that a knowledge of these nested differences is not to be achieved by independent research in the tradition of Western anthropologists or sociologists probing with forceps and cold metal but rather to be established through networks and transnational exchange (Smith 1999, 1).
Now, how do technologies operate in this complicated nation? For example, let’s take a brief look at the aspect of access to technology. In their article titled “Digital India Is No Country for Women. Here’s Why,” Urvashi Aneja and Vidisha Mishra estimate that only 29 percent of India’s internet users are women (2017). Additionally, this percentage does not entail a “capacity to make meaningful use of the access to technology.” Here, they point out that the intersection of internet access and literacy plays a key role in understanding the potential of a technology for its users. This aspect of access to internet or mobile technology is further complicated by how local patriarchal attitudes regulate technology in the hands of women or girls. Several rural areas in the country, especially those with self-governing bodies, have imposed bans on girls’ or women’s access to mobile phones and internet. In some cases, these bans also extend to boys under the age of eighteen. Dr. Anja Kovacs’s (2017) study “‘Chupke, Chupke’: Going behind the Mobile Phone Bans in North India” exposes many patriarchal attitudes behind these restrictions of technology. Jagwati Sangwan, from the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), who expands on the reason for these bans to Kovacs, says:
The phone is a space for connectivity. It makes the women using it independent in some respects. That is why they do not like it when girls have it. As individuals, if they become independent, it leaves room for love and affection on their own terms—it allows in a big way for freedom as a human being. It allows women to make transactions on their own behalf. Even within the house, relations are hierarchical, and the ones lowest in the hierarchy benefit the most from exercising individual choice. (Kovacs 2017)
Kovac’s study shows that access to technology is not only determined by factors such as poverty or literacy11 but is also distributed based on sexist, patriarchal ideology. Prevalent concepts such as honor also tie into this restriction of access, and we see that new forms of technology carry these ideological structures of society. The eleventh-standard student Kovacs speaks to says, “When boys use it [i.e. a mobile phone], parents say, ‘do whatever you want, just leave us out of it’. For girls, the house’s whole izzat [honor] depends on it.” Here, a postcolonial perspective opens Western feminist technology researchers to an unprecedented regulation of technology. The scope of what a “gendered technology gap” entails widens just by considering research and knowledge from other locations.
Apart from understanding how location-specific ideologies seep into the usage of technology, it also vital to see how these nested differences interact with globalization and international economies, meshed in Western imperialism and capitalism, as Kandasamy (2019) points out. Several scholars have examined the problematic impact of globalization and technocratic monopolies on women in Asia and Africa, which can often only be described as exploitation. Conversely, scholars have also observed how, depending on their social class, women benefit from globalization, with women from higher classes elevating their statuses and opportunities (Deepak 2012, 786). Here we see again an intersection of gender, class, caste, and technology, and how these social factors can determine nested differences. Assessing the relationship between the global and the local, one is also able to see the ways in which technological empires and technology-catalyzed capitalistic systems replicate colonial power relations.
There are several advantages to considering nested differences when developing feminist imaginaries. For one, as Maitrayee Chaudhuri’s (2004) collection Feminism in India shows, considering differences can make sure that local feminisms are not reduced to a singular voice. As the example of Dalit feminism shows, seeing hegemonical structures of representation within nested differences can expose how power within feminist organization works in varied contexts and not just within American or European contexts. Here the added axis of caste acts as a new structure that plays into concepts of intersecting oppression, where Dalit women are exposed to national and local forms of discrimination already complicated by gender, religion, language, class, and race. Incorporating narratives from this case into theorization can expose how subalternization works within subalternized contexts, allowing us further insight into processes of othering. Drawing parallels between Dalit feminisms and Black and Indigenous feminisms can show how power structures expand from the center to the margins. As Patricia A. Schechter (2012) shows in “What Comes Transnationally,” making this connection between transnational and national, national and local, can enable us to view these sites as those of historical possibility. In each case study that she undertakes in Exploring the Decolonial Imaginary by studying four transnational lives, she identifies “a consistent pattern: women’s refusal to perform racial boundary keeping (sometimes expressly designated ‘women’s work’) broke with the dominant idiom of the political within the nation, and such breaks created intense pressure for them to move” (2012, 2).
In her essay “Transnational Feminist Crossings: On Neoliberalism and Radical Critique,” Chandra Talpade Mohanty (2013) expands her work of decolonizing feminist scholarship and theory. She argues that postmodern theory “converges with the proliferation of depoliticized multiplicities that is a hallmark of neoliberal intellectual landscapes” (968). Considering the case of Palestinians in the 1948 territories and occupied West Bank, she expresses the uselessness of “post”-neoliberal frameworks in expressing the complexities of this landscape. This “convergence between neoliberalism and postmodernism that depoliticizes radical theory” contributes to the marked displacement and marginalization of Black, Indigenous, and other women of color theorists within feminist scholarship (970). Quoting Hester Eisenstein, Nancy Fraser (2015, 700) also traces the legacy of Western, postmodern feminism that has a “‘dangerous liaison’ with neoliberalism.”
Bringing a postcolonial critique to feminist imaginaries of technology can then repoliticize them and enable them to oppose neoliberal narratives developed without transnational organization. Considering narratives that exhibit histories of revolt against the colonial enables a framework that directly connects to varying feminist pasts with different political agendas. Along with it comes the knowledge of postcolonial epistemologies with their politics of location. Mohanty (2003, 501) writes, “My most simple goal was to make clear that cross-cultural feminist work must be attentive to the micropolitics of context, subjectivity, and struggle, as well as to the macropolitics of global economic and political systems and processes.” Drawing from Arif Dirlik (2007), she, like many other postcolonial scholars, identifies place consciousness to be the radical other of global capitalism (Mohanty 2003, 514). This enables feminist theorists to conceive of resistances to new forms of colonization using existing narratives of power and agency.
Approaching theory with awareness of nested differences offers what Wajcman (2004, 450) calls “interpretative flexibility” to different types of technology. Janina Loh (2019, 4), a philosopher of technology, reflects this flexibility: “Because of the fact that there are numerous different feminist schools and approaches, it is not surprising that a technological artefact can appear to some as a feminist technology, while others classify it as minimal feminist, moderate feminist, or even antifeminist.” This means that a Western perspective on what a particular technology entails in contexts of nested differences could be the opposite of what people in specific locations can actually make of these technologies. As Gray (2015, 187) puts it, Black women have been shown to employ technology created for different purposes for their own needs, redefining the scope of said technology. Considering location specificity and histories can radicalize what feminist technology means, expanding understandings of how such technology can be used to imagine feminist futures.
My final point regarding why feminist imaginaries must be more transnational with attention to postcolonial histories lies in a more traditional idea of the feminist movement. As Mohanty, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and several other feminists have proclaimed, collaboration within the feminist movement enables the power of solidarity. We may not have similar struggles, but a postcolonial feminist imaginary can use the local to illuminate the universal and implicate common struggles. Coalition and collaboration in the tradition of Lorde, hooks, and other intersectional feminists are, in theory, not dissimilar from Haraway’s (1991, 154) politics of affinity. But by centering whiteness and a techno-utopia (DeCook 2020, 7), the latter dismantles the work of the former toward a postcolonial technological subject. The paradigm of decolonization that this transnational imaginary of nested differences entails helps feminist theorists decentralize knowledge and focus on a common political project. Nested differences could resolve the paradoxical tension of the identity question that inevitably reinforces a colonial hegemony within feminist coalitions. Our fight as feminists has been against the many ways in which aspects of our identities have been suppressed and discriminated against. As Gray (2015, 186) writes, “valuing these perspectives is the only way to liberate women from the confines of hegemonic notions deeming these identities unworthy.”
How Can We Construct Postcolonial Feminist Imaginaries?
It goes without saying that this is the most important part of the article, and like the previous parts, which derived from existing transnational and postcolonial feminists, this, too, is an amalgam of perspectives. Some of these perspectives are not new, showing that the demand for transnational feminist conversations has existed for a very long time. I will begin by considering how Mohanty creates a framework for traveling theory with her work “Under Western Eyes.” This will be followed by more recent examples of how Black cyberfeminism, Data Feminism, and The Xenofeminist Manifesto act as attempts at transnational feminist imaginary building. Finally, I will conclude by considering feminist historian Antoinette Burton’s rules on how inclusive feminist history can be written. Some examples included do not pertain directly to theorizations of technology but are mentioned to show the wealth of critical, postcolonial examination that is available within feminist research, which can be used to understand efforts toward creating transnational feminist subjects.
i) Revisit, collaborate, reflect
Chandra Talpade Mohanty has established multiple transnational frameworks for feminist research apart from criticizing the development of Western feminisms in relation to non-Western feminisms. In 2003 she wrote ““Under Western Eyes” Revisited” to examine her seminal work “Under Western Eyes,” written in 1986. In the introduction to the article, Mohanty writes in retrospect:
I wrote “Under Western Eyes” to discover and articulate a critique of “Western feminist” scholarship on Third World women via the discursive colonization of Third World women’s lives and struggles. I also wanted to expose the power-knowledge nexus of feminist cross-cultural scholarship expressed through Eurocentric, falsely universalizing methodologies that serve the narrow self-interest of Western feminism. As well, I thought it crucial to highlight the connection between feminist scholarship and feminist political organizing while drawing attention to the need to examine the “political implications of our analytic strategies and principles.” I also wanted to chart the location of feminist scholarship within a global political and economic framework dominated by the “First World.” (Mohanty 2003, 501)
There are many aspects to be derived from Mohanty’s transnational feminist examination, especially her models, but I would like to look at what attempts she makes to make her work a transnational one. Firstly, Mohanty expresses a critical reflection of her own work, wanting to revisit it and renew it in light of neoliberal, postmodern feminist narratives that she identifies. She revisits questions of the divide between Western feminists and non-Western feminists around the world and debates characterizations such as “One-Third/Two-Thirds World” and “First World/North and Third World/South” within her imaginary of transnational feminist organization. She thoroughly examines her position then and now in this article and goes on to wonder about the impact of her work at the turn of the twenty-first century. Here she displays a model of autocritical theorization that Burton’s guidelines12 touch on and goes on to outline new directions for transnational feminist work, what she calls “comparative feminist studies/feminist solidarity model” (523).
In Mohanty’s (2013) essay “Transnational Feminist Crossings: On Neoliberalism and Radical Critique,” she draws from transnational feminist theories of place-based knowledge practices and traveling theory to interrogate how her work has crossed borders and languages. She looks at how her work is perceived and negotiated within the contexts of Sweden, Palestine, and Mexico. She follows her vision for transnational feminist conversation by establishing collaborations with researchers in these contexts who allow her insight into how they and their localized contexts benefit from her work or could add to it. In addition, Mohanty also inquires how her work has influenced feminist activism in these contexts. Regarding this attempt to map place-based knowledges and the cross-cultural traffic of her work, she writes:
I can address questions of translation and travel of concepts as well as my own accountability to the ideas and communities I work with. At each site, I begin with a brief discussion of the impact of neoliberalism and global coloniality on the knowledge economy and gender justice commitments and then explore the way my work is utilized by feminist colleagues engaged in struggles for gender, class, and racial justice in their own local/global contexts. The discussion of my work as it is taken up by activist and academic feminists in these sites indicates why systemic analyses of decolonization are so important for feminist communities—across borders. (Mohanty 2013, 979)
Mohanty’s work is self-reflective on multiple levels, actively attempting to create collaborations and share knowledges. She keeps her transnational feminist agenda at the center of all her projects and finds ways of executing her vision by negotiating and renegotiating with her own work. Often, cyberfeminist or technofeminist theories that originate in the West travel to many contexts around the world through efforts of local feminist researchers who attempt to consider their contexts in the light of these theories. But it would be a significant step toward transnational feminist collaboration if feminist theorists in the West attempted to meticulously chart how their works traveled to different contexts. In the context of feminist theories of technology, these sites of interaction can reveal fault lines and possibilities that were not evident earlier.
ii) Position in history
The next imaginary that I would like to explore is that of Black cyberfeminism. As mentioned earlier, this feminist imaginary arose as a direct response to criticisms of cyberfeminist theorization that we briefly looked at earlier. The primary goal of Black cyberfeminism, as propounded by Kishonna L. Gray, was to put intersectionality as a political framework into cyberfeminist theorization. Gray, who studies intersections of digital cultures and other social factors through the framework of intersectionality, considers Black cyberfeminism’s main themes in the following tweet: “…1) social structural oppression of technology & virtual spaces 2) intersecting oppressions experienced in virtual spaces and 3) the distinctness of virtual feminism (intersectional at its core)…” (Gray 2018).
What I would like to particularly focus on here is Gray’s impetus on tracing historical patterns. Postmodern imaginaries have resulted in a movement away from systemic analyses of technological artifacts, but Gray’s work, like Mohanty’s, views digital and technological systems as replications of hegemonical systems present in society. This allows Black cyberfeminism to compare systems of power and to examine how traces of Black people’s past are reflected in the technology they operate, how the silencing of Black people within digital cultures follows a long-standing history of violence toward them. But Gray’s focus is not only on Black women or Black people; rather, her framework allows the reflection of how digital and technological power structures affect marginalized communities. By making intersectionality the crux of her cyberfeminist imaginary, Gray also draws on a rich Black feminist epistemology, invoking the traditions of Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and others.
iii) Be transparent and accountable
In 2018 Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein embarked on their book project Data Feminism in a significantly different way. They published their feminist imaginary for a democratic data ethics on PubPub, the MIT Press Open, consisting of ten chapters (including introduction and conclusion), with sections on “Code of Conduct” and “Our Values and Our Metrics for Achieving Them.” Their open-access project was open for annotation by everyone with access to the internet before it was published in the form of a book. The authors interacted with readers using this form of annotation and commentary to create an open discussion on their ideas. Readers can view these comments on the online platform as they read through the work, a format that creates a feminist imaginary that resists structures of big data power.
At the core of their imaginary is a desire to connect feminist activism with feminist theorization. They bring in multiple examples of feminist data collection to substantiate this imaginary, interrogating the multiple ways in which marginalized people are disproportionately affected by data structures. They insist on intersectionality, equity, and proximity in their work and attempt to be “reflexive, transparent and accountable.” Their work reflects this awareness using “aspirational metrics” that correlate to specific structural problems such as racism, classism, colonialism, cissexism, and the like. Each structural problem is traced using a draft metric. For example, according to their draft metrics for “racism,” they show that 36 percent of feminist scholarship in their work is from people of color and 49 percent of the projects they examined were led by people of color. With regard to “proximity”, 49 percent of their examples feature people who are directly impacted by the problems examined in their book (D’Ignazio and Klein 2018b).
Klein and D’Ignazio’s work makes an effort to be intersectional and representative in their examination on multiple levels. In the process, transparency and accountability to their feminist goals are regarded as of the utmost importance. Creating a draft of their book on an open-access platform and publishing the final version after having taken into consideration multiple comments and reviews also exhibits their faith in collaboration and debate. The resultant imaginary—“data feminism”—is a good example of a technological imaginary located in the West that considers the potential of agencies developed in the margins for a framework of resistance toward big data empires and their multiple discriminations.
iv) Create access
A more recent imaginary is The Xenofeminist Manifesto, published in 2015 by the group Laboria Cuboniks, which considers gender abolitionism and race abolitionism at the core of their work. They display a keen awareness of Eurocentric universalism, and intersectionality as a political framework plays a key role in their visualization of a feminist future. Additionally, they are aware of the postmodern trap of cyberfeminist theorization that they draw from. But their work also draws from materialist feminism, substantiating their keen consideration of labor and capital. They write, “From the postmoderns, we have learnt to burn the facades of the false universal and dispel such confusions; from the moderns, we have learnt to sift new universals from the ashes of the false. Xenofeminism seeks to construct a coalitional politics, a politics without the infection of purity” (“XF Manifesto,” n.d., 6).
What I find fascinating about their work, apart from it being a collaborative work spread across five countries and three continents, is that they have attempted to create a transnational conversation. The Xenofeminist Manifesto is available in fifteen languages, including Arabic, Russian, and Chinese, on their website. In addition, in the “Resources / Critique” and the “Texts & Interviews” sections of their website, one can see the different collaborations and examinations that the collective has done to consider their manifesto in different contexts. Helen Hester (2018), one of the collective members, has further expanded her vision for the discourse in her book Xenofeminism by highlighting xenofeminism’s vision for technomaterialism, antinaturalism, and gender abolitionism, where she explicitly claims that one of the other authors might focus on different aspects of the manifesto.
v) Notes from a feminist historian
Finally, I would like to look at Antoinette Burton’s (1992) essay “‘History’ Is Now: Feminist Theory and the Production of Historical Feminisms” to consider the position of feminist theorists and researchers as feminist historians. I am including this discussion here because our theorizations inevitably stand as records of feminist history. Whether we like it or not, we perform as historians with the knowledge and standpoints that we disseminate through our work. Transnational feminists especially work to restructure knowledge both within feminism and outside it. Burton finds feminist historicization vital (i) for the explanation of contemporary feminist theory, (ii) for the restructuring of existing knowledge bases, and (iii) for the awareness of the types of knowledge we are made of. In the case of feminism, this knowledge production has assisted in furthering the position of women and their movements for equality.
Burton’s historiography provides three pointers to counteract Western feminism’s hegemony. To begin with, she requests that feminist historians establish an awareness that there is no such thing as an “‘original’ feminism in any context” (Burton 1992, 29-30). Attempts to trace the origins of feminism have more often than not led to the prioritization of one feminism over the other, usually Western feminisms. Feminists must understand that there is no one starting point to feminism. Neither institutions nor ideologies occur naturally; they are “creations, inventions—processes rather than events or stable forms” (30).
As a second pointer, Burton requests a shift from feminism to “feminisms” to devalue the idea of a single movement. Given the movement’s multiple forms, locations, and diversity of ideology and participants, referring to the movement as feminism “reduces the protagonists’ multiple and often conflicting identities to the same flatness and inaccuracy as does the term ‘woman’, which denies racial, ethnic, national, sexual, age and class differences among women and, as critics have long been at pains to show, roots a politics of domination within feminist ideologies themselves” (30). She denies the idea of a “single, static and unmediated” feminism, unmediated by “various historical contexts or by the historians who produce it” (33).
Burton’s final rule lays down the prescription that feminists who wish to construct historical knowledge by combining feminist theory and feminist history should exhibit “awareness of the existence of non-Western feminist movements” (30). Her impetus here is to emphasize the fact that several feminist movements were/are operating around the world simultaneously. She specifically advises Euro-American feminisms to engage with different forms of feminism and allow the identification of new perspectives.
Burton suggests that such work—considering the above points—should in turn be considered critically to produce historical knowledge. A simple insistence on reconsideration of history does not suffice. The dialogue needs to be continued by examining this reconsideration. As Burton rightly points out, “If feminist theorists fail to make use of current feminist histories, current feminist theory may read […] as though it had been written in the 1970s—or before” (33). In effect, what feminism needs is a more “autocritical set of narratives” (29) than the ones we now possess.
Conclusion: A Postcolonial Technological Subject
The postcolonial technological subject is not a construct. It is a process or set of guidelines for feminist research, especially that of theorization. In the first section of this article, I asked “Whose emancipatory politics?” to point out the gap between imagined subjectivities and lived realities. Continuing in a tradition of collaboration and solidarity, I asserted reasons for postcolonial feminist imaginaries—in our context, that of technology—by considering the idea of nested differences. Situating such imaginaries as alternatives to cyberfeminist imaginaries, I explored works that initiate a transnational feminist conversation to enable a postcolonial critique of Western technological knowledge and theorization. Conceiving feminist critique of technology as nested differences questions the supremacy of whiteness, enabling a slow movement toward understanding experiences of technology as those in isolation, in flux and influenced by a larger colonialist past and Western hegemony. I looked at Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s work for its reflection, collaboration, and revisitation; at Black cyberfeminism as a transnational framework that positions itself in history; at Data Feminism as a project that exhibits transparency and accountability, especially to the subjects it speaks of; and at The Xenofeminist Manifesto for its focus on access. Finally, I drew from Antoinette Burton’s prescriptions for feminist historicization and asserted that inclusive theorization is a vital part of feminist history making.
The postcolonial technological subject is a result of reflective, collaborative practices of feminist research that leaves no narrative behind. It expresses transparency and is accountable to the many voices it seeks to represent. It considers histories of struggle and of colonization, and it represents women and people on the margins with respective complex politics of location. The postcolonial technological subject is merely a feminist historian willing to be aware of feminisms’ complex history and internal hegemony when speaking of the impacts of technology.
The postcolonial technological subject asserts firstly that technology is a site of imperial fantasy, a neoliberal enterprise that disproportionately extorts and implicates Black, Indigenous, and other women of color apart from people in postcolonial contexts. Secondly, situating the postcolonial technological subject at the center of feminist world building roots it in politics of location, apart from making any theorization of technology within this ambit a decolonial project. Thirdly, continuing in the spirit of radical sisterhood, positioning the postcolonial technological subject as means to radical solutions for problems of power imbalances caused by technology—solutions that leave no narrative of power unconsidered—entails a framework of solidarity.
The feminist historian writing the postcolonial technological subject understands, in the words of Gray (2015, 189), that “Women working together is the only way to achieve significant changes. We cannot adopt the exclusionary approach of previous generations of women. We must recognize our privileges—racial, heterosexual, lingual, and so forth—and move toward fairness and equality for all women.” All women, all agencies in the margins.
The author does not have any competing interests to declare regarding the presented research.
Avrina Jos is a South Indian writer and academic based in Berlin. She teaches at the English Department at the University of Leipzig and is pursuing a PhD in feminist cultural memory and literature. She is interested in questions concerning a feminist future, and this manifests in both her academic and her creative work. She was an Asian Performing Artists Lab 2021 fellow, where she mapped storytelling practices rooted in the body to remember and reclaim a voice before colonization. A related project is “Asking the Archives,” which she is currently undertaking with a small team of writers at the Literaturhaus Berlin. Her creative work has been shortlisted for the Indiana Review Fiction Prize 2021, the Radical Review Writing Contest 2021, and the Berlin Writing Prize 2019. She is also the recipient of the Gender Thesis Award 2019 from the University of Göttingen and the Lower Saxony Research Award 2019. You can follow her work at www.avrinajos.net.
Subjectivity has a theoretical grounding in socialist feminist theory that arose in the West as a response to social determinism and essentialism. Straying away from this, the article uses subject and subjectivity to indicate multiple forms of agency that vary according to different identity parameters and markers, and that stand in opposition to monolithic Western concepts of selfhood.
A cyborg is a cybernetic being, an amalgamation of human and technology.
Many researchers have noted that despite wanting to fragment conceptions of womanhood, Haraway’s cyborg is rooted in whiteness. “The concept of the cyborg has continued to allow for the centering of whiteness and white identity and a techno-utopic worldview where technology is seen to be emancipatory, rather than oppressive” (DeCook 2020, 3).
Technofeminism, posthumanism, postmodernism, transhumanism, etc., have been heavily influenced by Haraway’s theories.
The terms woman or women are used to indicate all those who identify with this term, whether cis or trans. I believe in a feminism that works toward the equality of all genders (including nonbinary and agender identities), sexualities, and races. Additionally, I also believe that the revolutionary course taken by feminist movements around the world places specific focus on people in the margins, irrespective of gender. The terms people in the margins or marginalized communities are used to refer to this vision.
Goddess holds layers of culturally coded meaning in India and has been a contested reclamation within social movements in India and Indian feminist theory (see Rajan 1998). But the “goddess” referred to by Haraway is a Western epistemic concept.
Transnational feminist practices can also reproduce colonial patterns of power, as Ranjoo Seodu Herr (2014) shows in “Reclaiming Third World Feminism: Or Why Transnational Feminism Needs Third World Feminism.”
Audre Lorde and bell hooks have provided white feminists with comprehensive lessons on coalition and collaborations.
I will refrain from mentioning examples given the vast histories and complex political relationships of these movements. I do not wish to pick names from reserves of writing to situate them as markers.
The term post-cyber feminism was first used by Helen Hester in the essay “After the Future: n Hypotheses of Post-Cyber Feminism,” written in 2017.
These factors further enable patriarchal ideology and operate in intersection with one another.
See section v of this part of the article.