Seeing Through Eagle and Serpent Eyes: Transnational Feminist Practices
Maria-Theresia Holub (State University of New York at Binghamton) [BIO]
This essay focuses on the intersection of gender and transnational and transcultural space. What I am specifically interested in is how transnational space, as a space of and on the border, could work as a point of departure for (re-)thinking questions of sexuality and gender.
One of the challenges of contemporary feminist studies and practices is, I think, to allow for a multiplicity of voices without getting lost in their midst, i.e. to foster an understanding of difference and sameness that is dialogic rather than oppositional. This is also a reason why I find transnational feminism of particular interest: while it stresses the necessity of particular locations, it nevertheless also opens the possibilities of coalitions across and beyond conventional boundaries. In this paper I want to call particular attention to transnational feminist practices that engage the imaginary through a kind of “transgressive imagiNation”, as Peter Hitchcock calls it. I argue that such paractices do not necessarily work as a form of escape or denial of reality.
The realm of imagination, especially in a transnational and transcultural frame, does in my view present alternative forms of understanding ourselves in relation to the world(s) around us. Rather than viewing particular experiences and perspectives as ends in themselves, the transnational offers a more interactive sense of identity, what I call a relational subjectivity. In this way, imagination is not viewed in opposition to a so-called 'reality', but it becomes an important tool for conceptualizing different possibilities, especially within the realm of feminist discourse. Discussing the work of Hélène Cixous, Gloria Anzaldúa, Sandra Cisneros and Emine Sevgi Özdamar as instances of ‘transgressive imagiNations’ I want to propose the transnational imaginary as an important tool of resistance that helps foster a transformative engagement with the world.