Philosophy course hosts workshop on transnational feminism

MAXWELL MARSHALL, Staff Writer — In times as interesting as these, it’s important to remember that most issues are global issues.

On Friday, December 6th Denison students in Dr. Barbara Fultner’s Philosophy of Feminism course’’ convened for an afternoon-long workshop on transnational feminism, to discuss questions of feminism that transverse borders. Joining were guest students and Dr. Rocío Zambrana of Emory University.

The guest students taking part in the workshop hailed from Wabash College: an all-male liberal arts college in Crawfordsville, Indiana. These students, enrolled in a similar Feminist Philosophy course at their own institution, have been in contact at several points throughout the semester via video conference, and meeting in person for the workshop provided a great opportunity to work through transnational feminist issues and topics in person.

In the workshop, students tabled some of the greatest questions of transnational feminism, including how to and how not to do it well.  A transnational feminist view, students argued, shouldn’t be framed around a concept known as “missionary feminism”: the idea that feminism as it appears in the western world exists as the sole norm of ethical standards involved in the justice-enhancing project transnational feminism should be. (see Serene Khader’s Decolonializing Universalism: A Transnational Feminist Ethic).

To conclude the day, students attended Dr. Zombrana’s talk “Historical Reckoning: Colonial Debts in Contemporary Puerto Rico.” Dr. Zombrana spoke of the current debt crisis in Puerto Rico, noting the ways in which Puerto Rico, like other groups in debt, has become captured in a way by its creditors. Likening Puerto Rico to Haiti — a country that found itself in debt to a larger European country after its independence — Dr. Zombrana argued that debt is acts as “an apparatus of capture.” She then noted that “the operation of debt involves expulsion, dispossession, expropriation, through which race/gender/class hierarchies are deepened, intensified, [and] posited anew.” 

Overall the workshop and following talk by Dr. Zombrana were met very well by students, both Denison and Wabash alike. Meeting in person with these additional students opened up the floor to a wider range of perspectives on the subject matter that filled the afternoon’s conversations, all of which will be helpful as the students head into writing their final essays for the course.

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