Transnational feminism, as both an ethical ideal and an actual struggle to form political alliances, raises some of the most difficult and burning issues of what it means to challenge profound Eurocentric biases that have often stood in the way of such a coalition. Transnational alliances, particularly when including sexual politics, demand of us that we open ourselves to rethinking some of our most cherished feminist ideas, such as freedom and equality, without of course giving up on those ideals. Sometimes, when the issues are so big, they can best be examined by looking at a specific case, and in this case an alternative non-Western (South African) ethic: uBuntu. The ethic of uBuntu raises questions about some Anglo-American assumptions about freedom, equality, and obligation. It is particularly challenging since it does not justify itself through an appeal to its indigenous roots, but instead through a claim to universality.
Drucilla Cornell is professor of Political Science, Comparative Literature, and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, a professor extraordinaire at the University of Pretoria, and a visiting lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London. Furthermore she is the director of the uBuntu project in South Africa.
Antke Engel, Institute for Queer Theory, in cooperation with Professor Rahel Jaeggi and Professor Mari Mikkola (Institute for Philosophy, HU Berlin), and ICI Berlin, with the support of Schwules Museum Berlin.
The lecture is part of the series The Subtle Racializations of Sexuality: Queer Theory, the Aftermath of Colonial History, and the Late-Modern State.
Western states happily turn to gender and sexual politics in order to demonstrate their presumed progressiveness. They find support from some parts of feminist and LGBTI activism that regard (neo)liberal state and diversity policies as instrumental for achieving integration and recognition. Such alliances have recently been criticized for fostering new social divisions and endorsing occidentalist and sometimes racist premises. Interested in the nuances of this critique, the lecture series brings together theoretical and political considerations developed from anti-racist, queer of colour, and/or migrant perspectives on late-modern and neoliberal state policies.
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