What is Transnational Feminism?

This term refers to both the feminist paradigm and the activistism that followed it. The term “transnational” was used over international or global feminism for a couple of reasons. “International” compartmentalized nation-states and put borders around feminist issues. “Global” tended to ignore the voices of Third World women and other marginalized women. By using the term “transnational”, it demonstrated the common issues of feminist concern across the world. It also provides a space where the different experiences, or subjectivities, of women across the globe can discuss their view and understandings of the issues.

One author that discusses this notion of transnational feminism is Chandra Mohanty, in her 1986 piece “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” She is a professor of sociology, women and gender studies, and the cultural foundations of education, as well as, Dean’s Professor of the humanities at Syracuse University. In “Under Western Eyes”, Mohanty examines Western feminism tendency to universalize and generalize the experiences of women, while overlooking or completely ignoring the Third World Woman. In addition, the creation of the Third World Women was one that was also generalized, often erasing historical and geographical specificity that had major impacts and influences. She argues for a more comprehensive and telling analysis of feminism as it relates to different kinds of women, especially those that are overlooked. A summary of the popular piece can be found here, as well as, a PDF of the whole piece here.

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