inappropriate(d) difference: notes on transnational feminist encounters

Xin Liu
2021 Feminist Review  
How to foster feminist coalitions across various borders, without flattening out crucial differences that matter? The problem of difference has exercised much critical attention in the field of transnational feminist studies. On the one hand, transnational feminism foregrounds differences and multiplicities, and challenges the exclusion and marginalisation of the other. On the other hand, the investments in certain difference sometimes run the risk of fixing its location and meaning, and
more » ... ng a seeming impasse for transnational feminist collaboration. As M.J. Alexander and Chandra Talpade Mohanty (2010, p. 27) ask, 'can transnational feminist lenses push us to ask questions that are location specific but not necessarily location bound?'. In this Open Space piece, I provide an account of how the question of difference shapes practices such as note-taking, critiquing and debating at two transnational feminist encounters, and raises questions about what decolonising knowledge production and critical translation entail. I suggest rethinking difference as inappropriate(d)ness (Trinh, ed., 1986(Trinh, ed., -1987) ) that is constitutive of the field of feminist studies, which, as Richa Nagar and Amanda Lock Swarr (2010, p. 12) note, 'must contest its very definition in order to be useful'. I argue that at stake is not the inclusion of all or the prioritising of certain differences, conceived of as discrete and autonomous entities/identities. What is needed is a critical and generous mode of relating that is felt as touching and being touched.
doi:10.1177/01417789211040456 fatcat:eaypox5irbfwtnkdzgpqqgnqkq