Houria Bouteldja: A Freedom Fighter for Women Globally Through Feminist Decolonization

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“Recasting human relations [and] the very notion of what it means to be human [are] crucial for decolonization.”Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández

I consider myself “radical” when it comes to politics because I am interested in getting to the heart and source of things in order to incite Change and achieve true freedom.  I love feminism, especially radical feminism, because it cares about and looks at socio-cultural power structures that keep women down.  But here in the west radfeminism doesn’t appear to tackle (de)colonization too much, even though females in so-called “developed” nations are the throat beneath the boot of the eurowestern, Abrahamic colonist-industrial patriarchy.  In other parts of the world, the boot looks different, but the power imbalance and pain it causes women is the same.

I’ve said that radical feminism isn’t always radical enough for me, which is why I look to Decolonization as the answer to whole emancipation of women, together with a reconnection to the Spiritual perception of reality (as John Trudell calls it*), which colonization begins stripping from us the moment we enter this world.

Enter Houria Bouteldja, a sister who speaks my language of Decolonizing Feminism!  In her excellent essay/speech she explains:

I don’t necessarily consider progress to be progressive but sometimes, even often, it is regressive.

A decolonial approach should question th[e] relationship [of the domination of the global south by the global north] and attempt to subvert it.

Why does the issue of leading the [Muslim] prayer make its way across the globe when Judaism and Christianity have never really made apparent their own intransigent defense of the equality of sexes?

A true decolonial feminism could benefit women, all women when they, themselves, deem it to be their path to emancipation.

In another article, Houria explains what being decolonial means:

Above all, the decolonial person is the one that has defeated his or her fascination for the White Man, and for the Western civilization.

Being decolonial is above all an emancipated state of mind. It’s breaking off, changing, and breaking free at the same time. It is the potential that we carry, buried somewhere within, hidden deep inside our being and it is only up to us to free it.

On the ideological level. We must resist the ideology of White universalism, human rights and the Enlightenment, progress, and the linear vision of history.

On the political level. We shouldn’t accept the class divide as central, meaning that we should have the courage to position ourselves on the race divide and to pursue the class struggle in parallel or in articulation with the struggle of social races. In other words, it is the process of developing a critical reflection on Marxism. From now on, the domination relationships should be analyzed at a global scale, based on the work of thinkers from the South, based on other forms of knowledge and political experiences under imperial domination.

Convincing [White/colonized people] will not be an easy task. Because Whites’ have considerable interests in staying White and to fight for maintaining their privileges. It’s in their interest, just as it is in the interest of the bourgeois to keep their class privileges, and it is in the interest of men to keep their gender privileges.

I’m so excited to have come across this awesome woman who lives in France and is the daughter of Algerian immigrants.  As such her work is in French, so I was very happy to have come across this website with some translated-to-English articles/speeches/interviews of Houria and other Decolonial freedom fighters who are part of the political movement known as Indigènes de la République (PIR) – in English, the Movement of the Indigenous of the Republic (France).

Merci beaucoup Houria and PIR for speaking the important language of Decolonization, you are the wind beneath my Decolonist Feminist wings!  I stand with you in solidarity in prioritizing and centering Decolonization here in the settler colonial state of Canada where I live as a daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants (I was the last one in my family born in Russia and we arrived in Canada after a few years living  in occuped Palestine).  My heart and Spirit tell me that Decolonization is the road to real Freedom for ALL, especially given that I live on stolen Native land where Native people’s genocide and concentration camps (the “reservation” system) still exist.

Speaking of solidarity and our own geographic and socio-cultural locations, here are some excellent points about Decolonizing solidarity (from this article):

Both oppressor and oppressed are bound together through power relations.

Within the logic of white supremacy, what emerges as reasonable solutions for the problems of marginalized groups, compounds the oppressive conditions for others.

White supremacy and hetero-patriarchal order violently enforce colonial modes of human relationality, fabricating subject position through intersecting and interlocking discursive regimes of gender, race, class, sexuality, and ability, among others.

Multiculturalism operates to manage and contain cultural difference.  It also turns “diversity” into a commodity to be marketed and sold by both the state and corporations. […] Multiculturalism is inherently colonialist […] particularly as a response to economic and political injustice.

[We must] abandon the traditional logics of formal schooling […] [and] move beyond tired conceptions of individual autonomy and rational consciousness.

Solidarity is intimately linked to Christianity [and] always implies some form of positive moral obligation.  […] Solidarity always operates in tension with logics of domination. […]

Solidarity in relationship to decolonization is about challenging the very idea of what it means to be human, and by extension, the logics of inclusion and exclusion that enforce social boundaries, including notions of social, political, and civic solidarity.  It is about imagining human relations that are premised on the relationship between difference and interdependency, rather than similarity and a rational calculation of self-interests.

I just love that.   We need to stop working in the name of self-interests and start thinking more in terms of our inter-dependence because like it or not, we’re ALL inter-dependent, and the sooner we accept and work WITH this, the better off we’ll all be.  Such a perspective makes no room for predatory or disrespectful, boundary-trampling behavior; it demands Respect from and for ALL.

“Decolonization implicates and unsettles everyone.” – Eve Tuck & K. Wayne Yang

We Must Decolonize ourselves, literally, not in the metaphorical sense (see more about that here).

* Indigenous artist and activist John Trudell talks about the Spiritual perception of reality versus the Religious one:

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