Symposium – Decolonizing Third World Feminism: Latin American Women Artists (1960-1980)

With Barbara Carrasco, Esther Gabara, Andrea Giunta, Sophie Halart, Giulia Lamini / Moderated by Burcu Dogramaci, Laura Karp Lugo and Stephanie Weber

This one-day symposium explores the diverse forms of feminist artistic practices which developed in Central and South America between 1960 and 1980; proposing rethink reevaluation of the notion of the ‘Third World’ via an examination of the historiography of exhibitions, alongside artistic and activist practices that draw on the symbolic frame of feminism. Emerging from the 1955 Bandung Conference and subsequent formation of the Non-Aligned Movement, understandings of the ‘Third world’ have traditionally shifted between it denoting a political position that was ancillary to both the capitalist West and communist East, to its deployment in identifying the cultural and economic conditions of so-called ‘underdeveloped’ countries; a position which in turn perpetuated a fallacious, homogenized understanding of the “Third World.”

Such a misnomer is particularly egregious when one considers the pluralities of race, ethnicity, and gender that constitute Latin America, a region whose multiple identities and intercultural complexities are commonly analyzed within the framework of Mestizaje (miscegenation, mixing). Nevertheless, as Gerardo Mosquera has warned, even a notion as fluid as Mestizaje cannot escape the tendency to erase imbalances and conflicts within diverse cultural communities and, in so doing, similarly runs the risk of becoming ‘an attractive stereotype for the outside gaze’. Situating itself in-between the totalizing tendency of the “Third World” and the orientalist proclivities of Mestizaje, "Decolonizing Third World Feminism: Latin American Women Artists (1960-1980)" will utilize the lens of feminism in order to excavate the aforementioned historical moment, exposing both its inherent contradictions, as well as probe its political and cultural specificities so as to emphasize and locate modes of resistance against patriarchal hierarchies and hegemonic forms of feminist identifications. In so doing, it will circumvent the notion that “third world” women constitute a homogenous category ‘victimized by the combined weight of their traditions, culture and beliefs, and “our” (Eurocentric) history’, as well as abstain from promulgating the notion of some form of “universal sisterhood” that assumes a commonality of gender experience across race and national line.

In place of this, the symposium takes up the call of scholars such as Chandra Talpade Mohanty, who advocate for a new analytical methodology that acknowledges the struggles of Latin American women in relation to their history, cultural context, economic class, and social identity. "Decolonizing Third World Feminism: Latin American Women Artists (1960-1980)" will therefore strive to unveil the presence of multiple feminisms and their decolonizing subaltern positions; taking into account ethnic and cultural differences, in addition to exploring their political and economic implications. By investigating also the intersectionality between the presence of African population in Latin American, movements of Native Americans and differences between Latino and Latin American identities, Decolonizing Third World Feminism: Latin American Women Artists (1960-1980) aims to further complicate the idea of feminism in Latin America.