Category Archives: transphobia

Settler Sexuality

Resistance to State-Sanctioned Violence, Reclamation of Anti-Colonial Knowledges & Liberation for All – An Indigenous Feminist Zine

From K’É Infoshop
(download PDF in booklet format)

Created with the knowledge shared at the K’é Infoshop in Tségháhoodzání, Dinétah (Window Rock, AZ) and among the indigenous students living in Quinnipiac, Mashpee Wampanoag, Pokonoket Wampanoag, and Narragansett territories.

“Indigenous feminisms transcend the general fight for rights and recognition within a nation-state — indigenous feminisms speak to the responsibilities we have to one another and to our relationship to the physical and non-physical world.”

Key Terms and Definitions

  • settler-colonialism — the ongoing process of non-Native settlers occupying Native land, demanding their world views, morals, and economies be followed, while attempting to erase and assimilate the original inhabitants
  • heteropatriarchy — the societal structure in which heterosexual men possess the most amount of control and power compared to womxn and queer people, who are disempowered by the system
  • imperialism — policy, action, and ongoing process of extending power over foreign land and people often with the violent intent to control their affairs
  • capitalism — an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state/by the people, exchange relies on currency, overall system relies on individualistic thought and competition
  • subjectivity — ideas, perspectives, feelings, experiences, and desires of an individual/collective expressed with agency and consciousness
  • queer — unspecific non-heterosexual identity/subjectivity, cannot fully describe Indigenous perspectives of gender/sexuality
  • Two-Spirit — contemporary pan-Indigenous term for non-binary/queer individuals, unspecific.
  • globalization — the process of international interaction and integration between people, goods, technology, governments, and economies
  • neoliberalism — hyper-capitalism; deregulation of the market, free-market capitalism alongside liberal agendas to erase race and homogenize queerness
  • decolonization — the action and practice of dismantling harmful structures of power, reclaiming previous subjectivities, and envisioning a future built on previous and current understandings of compassion, relation, and accountability
  • Indigenous feminisms — intersectional theory and practice of decolonial feminism, directly challenges settler-colonialism, capitalism, and western conceptions of “gender” and “sexuality.”

The policing of indigenous genders and sexualities as a means to further the larger settler-colonial project led to the development of a “settler sexuality.” Scott Morgensen (settler scholar) defines settler sexuality as “a white national heteronormativity that regulates Indigenous sexuality and gender by supplanting them with the sexual modernity of settler subjects.” In non-academic speak, settler sexuality can be described as an “exceptional” form of sexual expression enforced by the settler-state. The setter-state deems heterosexual monogamy as “exceptional” and “normal,” and anything beyond those confines as “primitive” and “unexceptional.”

Beginning with the early violence inflicted upon indigenous people in North America and the origins of settler sexuality, the zine goes onto to describe how such regimes were used to further the larger settler-colonial project to pillage Native land and eradicate Native populations. Indigenous feminisms are then presented in order to illuminate paths toward decolonization. Radically different from mainstream conceptions of feminism, the zine highlights the need for Indigenous feminisms in the larger aims to eliminate structures of power harmful to indigenous existence, such as heteropatriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy. Indigenous feminisms act as a way to challenge settler sexuality and settler colonialism on the whole.

The language used throughout, such as “gender” and “sexuality,” do not and cannot fully describe and communicate the ways in which our ancestors understood them. Western interpretations of gender and sexuality have, from the time they have been articulated and policed, been used to define each other. For instance, “homosexuality” focuses on the “act” of “same-sex” relations. Indigenous gender and sexuality extend beyond such definitions. Gender encapsulates the mental, emotional, and social experience and expression of an individual; Gender has never been about the biological or physical.

“Queer” is also used minimally throughout the zine to loosely refer to sexual subjectivities generally not accepted or embraced by settler-colonial heteropatriarchy. The broadness of the term can be violent, but the English language can’t really describe something so complicated and abstract. Most recently, the pan-tribal term “Two-Spirit,” a translated Anishinaabe word, has been used to reclaim Indigenous trans subjectivities. However, there is pushback both within and beyond academia due to the broadness, the perpetuation of the gender binary and colonial understandings of gender. “Queerness” as we understand it today differs largely from the way our ancestors understood gender and sexuality. The term “indigenous,” as used in this zine refers to the native inhabitants of so-called North America.

So much more could also be added to this final product, this only does a fraction of the work grassroots organizers throughout the world manage.

SETTLER SEXUALITY ON STOLEN LAND

Capitalism, Imperialism, and Race

Indigenous womxn, “queer,” transgender, and non-binary people endure unspeakable violence at the hands of non-native settlers and even their own community members, however they continue to resist and pave a path toward brighter tomorrows. Indigenous womxn, trans folk, queers stand at the forefront of the larger decolonial movement to reclaim previous subjectivities and to build bright collective futures. Decolonization is often mistaken as an effort to “go back” to precolonial ways, but the active process of such carries much more gravity than that. Indigenous people not only demand the total repatriation of land, but we continually envision and push for a world void of structures such as settler-colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, racism, fascism, and heteropatriarchy. Decolonization involves reclaiming previous ways of living – horizontal leadership, collectivism, and recognition of universal relations — and pushing such lifeways into practice and action in order to develop a sustainable future. It’s not all about the past, it’s about what we want for our communities in the years to come. Indigenous womxn and queers lead the larger movement for such futures despite the violence they experience under settler-colonialism, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy.

Click here to read the full text…

Food Sovereignty in Rebellion: Decolonization, Autonomy, Gender Equity and the Zapatista Solution

Zapatista women standing with raised fists in January, 2014. (Photo: Visual Research)

By Levi Gahman, Solutions, via TruthOut:

The battle for humanity and against neoliberalism was and is ours,

And also that of many others from below.

Against death — We demand life.

 — Subcomandante Galeano/Marcos

One of the biggest threats to food security the world currently faces is neoliberalism. It’s logic, which has become status quo over the past 70 years and valorizes global ‘free market’ capitalism, is made manifest through economic policies that facilitate privatization, deregulation, and cuts to social spending, as well as a discourse that promotes competition, individualism, and self-commodification. Despite rarely being criticized, or even mentioned, by state officials and mainstream media, neoliberal programs and practices continue to give rise to unprecedented levels of poverty, hunger, and suffering. The consequences of neoliberalism are so acutely visceral that the Zapatistas called the 21st century’s most highly lauded free-trade policy, NAFTA, a ‘death certificate’ for Indigenous people.[1] This is because economic liberalization meant that imported commodities (e.g., subsidized corn from the U.S.) would flood Mexican markets, devalue the products of peasant farmers, and lead to widespread food insecurity. As a response, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), primarily Indigenous peasants themselves, led an armed insurrection in Chiapas, Mexico on January 1, 1994 — the day NAFTA went into effect.

The Zapatistas, primarily Indigenous Ch’ol, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tojolobal, Mam, and Zoque rebels, were rising up against 500 years of colonial oppression. For this piece, I draw from my experiences learning from them, not ‘researching’ them. Importantly, I neither speak for the Zapatistas nor do my words do them justice. In a sense, then, this piece is nothing other than a modest ‘suggestion’ that the Zapatistas may offer us some ideas about solutions to the problems of the food systems we find ourselves in.

Click here to read more…

Decolonizing Gender: A Curriculum

decolonizing-genderDecolonizing Gender: A Curriculum is a free zine created by Malcolm Shanks and khari jackson for their “decolonizing gender: a curriculum” workshop. they created this zine so that anyone who’s interested can have the tools and resources they need to facilitate their own workshop on decolonizing gender whenever and wherever they wanted to! yay for accessible knowledge for all! there are also excerpts from khari’s free comic book “my gender is My Gender”. full free pdf as well as information on how to purchase copies and/or donate can be found at jkharij.com/mgmg

Update: Help Malcolm get to Decolonial Summer School in Barcelona!

Indigenist Intersectionality: Decolonizing an Indigenous Eco-Queer Feminism and Anarchism

Institute for Anarchist Studies

This essay appears in the current anarcha-feminisms issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory (N. 29), available here from AK Press!  Laura received an Institute for Anarchist Studies writing grant to complete this piece. 

The violence enacted against Indigenous women and Two-Spirit/LGBTQ people evokes deep questions about the intent and impact of colonization in a Canadian settler and state context. The horrors of colonial violence—bodies were violated and abandoned at the sides of highways, in ditches, in rivers—tell stories of the vital importance of Indigenous women’s leadership, their warriorhood, their gifts and their medicines, and also of the centrality of gendered freedom and fluid belonging in Indigenous cultures. It is a system of colonization that seeks to erase and subsume these realities and to replace Indigenous truth with illusions of our weakness. We are at a pivotal moment now as state and settler voices seek to understand what is…

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Call For Submissions: Gender, Sexuality & Decolonization

Image via 2spirits.comDecolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society invites submissions from scholars, artists, and activists for a new special issue of the journal exploring gender, sexuality and decolonization, guest edited by Karyn Recollet (University of Toronto), in conjunction with Eric Ritskes, Editor of Decolonization. This issue invites us to consider both the centrality of gender and sexual violence to colonization, but also, relatedly, the centrality of gender and sexual justice to decolonization. Too often these issues have been seen as peripheral to the larger struggles against colonialism, too often cis-heteropatriarchal normativity has been justified in the name of decolonization. This has to stop. To us, it seems impossible to discuss Indigenous sovereignty without a discussion of body sovereignty. It seems impossible to discuss environmental justice without connecting the violence against the earth to the violences against our bodies, particularly the bodies of women, Two Spirit, queer, transgender and others who fall beyond and in resistance to the male cis-heteropatriarchal norms of colonial society. Not only do these bodies bear the brunt of colonial violence, they also embody, create and sustain the theories, movements, and creative actions that resist it. Decolonization is impossible without gender and sexual justice as articulated by women, Two Spirit, queer, transgender and others who fall beyond and in resistance to male cis-heteropatriarchal norms. These are the experiences and voices that this issue seeks to center and honor in seeking ways forward for decolonization. As always, we are interested in papers that connect theoretical discussions with active decolonization work by engaging the intersections of theory and practice. This issue invites contributors to consider the following questions and themes that, while far from exhaustive, are at the forefront of our thinking for this issue:

  • How is colonial violence predicated on and enacted through cis-heteropatriarchal gender norms and understandings of sexuality? How are these forms of violence complicated by race, age, location, and space? As colonial violence is enacted on bodies, how is resistance and decolonization also embodied?
  • What does decolonial love look like? What is the role of decolonial love in resistance and resurgence? What is the role of hope, of envisioning future modes of relationship that both transcend and reconstruct the present? Relatedly, thinking of Audre Lorde’s uses of the erotic, and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network’s (NYSHN) use of the term “Resistance is Sexy”, what role does the erotic have in resistance? How are decolonial understandings of what is sexy or erotic reconstituted through resistance and struggle?
  • How are the experiences of Two Spirit, transgender, queer and others who fall beyond and in resistance to the male cis-heteropatriarchal norms of colonial society central in engaging and generating a politics of refusal, particularly refusal of the settler colonial state and its definitional power? How, through this refusal, are we generating spatial (de/re)orientations of decolonial love, reconstructing and remapping the spaces where gender and sexual justice might happen outside and at the margins of the state, as part of a trajectory against and beyond the state?
  • How do we pull back or unlayer the colonial violences that hyper- or de-sexualize Indigenous, Black and peoples of color, by renaming where we find beauty in our communities and our selves on our own terms?
  • What are the creative practices in which Indigenous, Black and other non-White feminisms intervene into cis-heteropatriarchy, coloniality, and other related systems of oppression? What vocabularies of feminism are being (re)imagined and (re)generated, what practices being created, in these communities to combat colonialism and create solidarity against colonial patriarchy and white supremacy along the lines of gender and sexuality?
  • What are Indigenous and other traditions of gender and sexual justice? How has the ‘traditional’ been mobilized in ways that further, and are complicit in, colonial cis-heteropatriarchal violences? How might tradition and traditional practices be re-conceptualized, re-generated, or re-understood through gender and sexual justice paradigms?
  • How are youth, as well as other gender and sexual justice advocates, mobilizing in new ways, utilizing new tools, and establishing new forums for decolonizing practices? What generative critiques are being encoded into and through these new tools; for example, in and through digital territories? How might intergenerational dialogues be created to further the decolonization of gender and sexual justice?
  • Often anticolonial violence has been theorized and enacted within cis-heteropatriarchal norms, enacting problematic tropes of the soldier, the warrior, or the revolutionary that are rooted in gender violences. How have women, Two Spirit, transgender, queer and others who fall beyond and in resistance to cis-heteropatriarchal norms been silenced and marginalized in anticolonial and decolonization movements through these tropes? How might decolonization (and conceptions of anticolonial violence) be reconceptualized or reimagined within feminist, queer, transgender, Two Spirit, or other paradigms?

Contributions are to be submitted at www.decolonization.org no later than March 16, 2015. This issue is scheduled for release in Fall 2015. Articles should follow our journal style guidelines, which can be found here. Scholarly articles are subject to a double-blind peer review and details can be found here. Submitted contributions may also include short non-peer-reviewed papers and commentary, visual art, audio, video, poetry or interviews. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at editors@decolonization.org

Indigenous Peoples: Language Revitalization & Gender Identity

More posts tagged From Kwe Today: fierce indigenous feminism

At the core of European legal thought is sustaining binaries such as the colonizer v. the colonized, the conqueror v. the conquered, the civilized v. the savage, or the male v. the female. During her lecture on systemic violence at Concordia University, Andrea Smith explains how colonialism legitimized gender violence through the installation of patriarchy, a male system of domination over females (Smith, 2011). Smith (2011) states:

Of course, patriarchy is built on a gender binary system. You can’t have patriarchy unless you have two genders, one that dominates another gender. So consequently, in many Native communities that were not built on a gender binary system, those who did not fit that system were often targeted for destruction as well (at approximately 2:05).

Patriarchy in Native communities was essential to create a hierarchy “so that colonial domination would seem natural” (Smith, 2011, 2:13). Many North American Indigenous communities were matriarchal, which is in direct opposition to patriarchy and colonialism (Smith, 1999). The ways in which patriarchy furthered the expansion of colonialism occurred through sexual violence, the forced removal of children from their homes to residential schools, and the annihilation of Indigenous languages and cultures (McGeough, 2008). For Indigenous peoples, the loss of language translates to a loss of connection to their culture and other systems of being.

In Medicine Bundle of Contradictions, an essay authored by Lous Esme Cruz (2011), the limitations of the English language are examined in relation to Indigenous identities and gender identities. Cruz (2011) writes, “English is a very limited language that doesn’t give very many options for explaining gender expression and roles” (p. 54). Frantz Fanon (2004) in his work entitled Wretched of the Earth defines colonialism as the “entire conquest of land and people” (p. 14). Indigenous peoples were colonized through the loss of their land and languages and through—the less often talked about—the loss of important gender roles within their culture. Cruz states further, “gender is not a culture, it is a role within culture” (p. 55). Sometimes erased from this discussion of colonialism and loss of culture for Indigenous peoples is the loss of gender roles that exists outside the Western gender binary, male/female. For this paper, I will explore the connection between loss of language and colonialism and how the loss of language impacts gender identities in Indigenous populations. This paper will contribute to the larger discussion of gender identity, how both Western concepts and the English language is restrictive for gender roles and expressions, and the importance of language revitalization for Indigenous peoples.

Click here to read the entire article on Kwe Today

Indigenous Women and Two-Spirited People: Our Work is Decolonization!

“Be a Good Girl” (2006 woodcut print, courtesy of the Collection of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada) is a reflection on the gendered work expectations and training of women in the 1950s. I have explored this topic by looking at Indian residential schools, and the ways in which young Native women were trained in an effort to transform them into good working-class wives and workers. The Indian residential school system had a half-day labour program for girls, which was abolished in 1952 out of concern that children were not receiving an education, but were only serving the financial needs of the school. Residential schools forbade Native children from speaking their languages or practicing their culture in an attempt to mold them, for their “salvation,” into productive members of white, capitalist society. The residential schools were part of a dark history of racism and genocide in Canada and continue to have negative effects. This sort of gendered work training, however, was not reserved for the assimilation of Natives; training schools like the Ontario Training School for Girls rehabilitated young women with “loose” morals and other traits that were not tolerated in the ’50s. Both white working class and Native girls attended these training schools. This piece is about the conflicts, spiritual paradoxes, and societal expectations of young women in the ’50s.  Tania Willard, Secwepemc Nation, is an artist and designer based in Vancouver. Through her art and design she hopes to communicate the stories and voices we are unable to hear—the voices that are missing and erased from our histories and realities.

“Be a Good Girl” by Tania Willard

By Chelsea Vowel, GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine

Indigenous women and two-spirited* people are leading a resurgence movement in iyiniwi-ministik, the People’s Island.* They draw on their traditional roles as protectors of the land and water to inform their work in our communities, and root themselves in their specific socio-political orders to counter colonialism and to revitalize language and culture. Rather than being defined as a struggle against patriarchal gender roles and the division of labour, Indigenous women and two-spirited people’s work combats the imposition of colonial barriers. The goal is not to attain gender equality, but rather to restore Indigenous nationhood, which includes gender equality and respect for gender fluidity.

As I write this I can hear Khelsilem Rivers (Skwxwú7mesh-Kwakwaka‘wakw), a community organizer from Vancouver, pointing out that not all Indigenous peoples have the same traditions, and that to avoid perpetuating Pan-Indian stereotypes, we need to have honest discussions about the diversity of our traditions. This is an important point indeed, as not all Indigenous nations have the same traditions with respect to the fluidity of gender roles. Romanticizing ourselves as a collective unfortunately plays into “noble savage” stereotypes and does damage in the long run. With so many Indigenous people disconnected from their specific traditions, even so-called positive stereotypes are a form of continuing erasure.

Even among nations with traditional binary gender roles or hierarchical socio-political orders, there is nothing that can accurately compare to the system of patriarchy imposed by colonialism which mainstream Settler feminism aligns itself against. Our internal struggles with traditional roles are not analogous to the issues that Settler peoples have with their traditions, and so using western liberal theory to deconstruct them is inherently incongruous.

Indigenous traditions are not frozen in time any more than other people’s traditions are. Our peoples have been trading more than goods for thousands of years, passing along ceremonies, medicines, and ideas just as easily as copper and fish. We are capable of change and have no reason not to embrace it, as long as that change respects our reciprocal obligations to one another and to the territories in which we live. We do not need to look to western liberal notions of individual equality, which so often ignore our communal existence and insist that land and resources must be thought of as property. Instead, we can look to the laws of our Indigenous neighbours if we need to review our traditions. It is precisely this approach that is being taken up by many women and two-spirited individuals in Indigenous communities as they pursue sexual health, revitalization of language and culture, and renewal of relationships with the land.

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Decolonizing women’s history

Max Dashu on recovering women’s history

Click here to listen or download [mp3]

Why does women’s history matter? It seems like a simple answer — because we’re here, we’ve contributed and we’re human. But there’s more. Max Dashu has dedicated her life’s work to recovering the truth about women’s and indigenous histories — truths that have been omitted and erased from history books and misrepresented by the men who wrote those books. Without that history we don’t know how we came to be in this colonialist, patriarchal system and we don t know that there is a potential for something different. The saying, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” is an ominous warning — patriarchy didn’t occur out of thin air, it was part of a process wherein women’s positions of power were eroded and women were systematically silenced and oppressed, often through violence.

March is Women’s History Month in the United States and March 8th is International Women’s Day. It’s an opportunity to remind ourselves that, despite all the work that’s been done, there is more to do. The history of colonialism, patriarchy, indigenous cultures, and women reminds us that the systems of power we know now have not always been there and need not always be.

Dashu is an artist and an educator who has presented hundreds of slide talks at universities, community centers, bookstores, schools, libraries, prisons, galleries, festivals and conferences around North America and in Mexico, Germany, Ireland, Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Bulgaria, and Australia. She is known for her expertise on ancient female iconography in world archaeology, goddess traditions, women shamans, witches and the witch hunts.

Dashu founded The Suppressed Histories Archives in 1970 to research and document women’s history from an international perspective.

To support Dashu’s work, you can donate to her indiegogo campaign.

Call for Translations

Unsettling America is calling for pro bono translators to translate texts and articles from this website into other languages. We’ve been motivated to put out this call by someone who made just such an offer, via email:

Dear Unsettling America,

I have been moved by the excellent articles on your blog. I’ve only just begun to delve into them.

As an avid speaker of Brazilian Portuguese, and with the knowledge that many of our radical colleagues in Portugal, Brazil, and the other lusophonic countries of the world are engaging in the same struggles as we are, it occurred to me recently that translating valuable work such as yours could help us build greater solidarity with the Global South, as well as spread the word about decolonization, anti-racism, etc.

With that said, I would like to offer to begin pro bono translation of the articles on your blog. Is that something that might interest you all?

Please let me know. Keep up the terrific work.

Many thanks, warmly, and in solidarity,
XXXXX

Thus, we are putting out an open call for anyone who would like to do the same, into any language, particularly indigenous tongues and languages of the so-called “Third World”. We should also note that in doing so, you will also be doing a great service of mutual aid to the authors and sources from which we republish.

If you’re interested, please contact us at unsettlingamerica [at] riseup [dot] net

Thank you!

Unsettling Resistance: Call for Submission Proposals

Unsettling Resistance: Anti-Authoritarian Experiments in Settler Decolonization

A book of lessons learned, wisdom gained, and practical strategies from those non-indigenous anti-authoritarian activists engaged in the struggle for decolonization.

From Unsettling Resistance:

This is a call-out to you and your friends doing solidarity work and resistance, smashing colonialism, and living healthy relationships to lands and peoples. We are editing a book, for publication with an independent publisher such as AK press, that will be a compilation of lessons learned, wisdom gained, and practical strategies from those non-indigenous anti-authoritarian activists engaged in the struggle for decolonization.

Indigenous people on Turtle Island (the area known as North America) have been resisting colonialism for over 500 years.  In recent years there has been more widespread support of this struggle by non-indigenous settlers than ever before. In the past year Idle No More has brought decolonization into the dominant consciousness leading to wider discussions and an increasing presence of protest, direct action, and mass mobilizations.

Indigenous-settler collaboration on decolonizing actions is not new. For many years non-indigenous activists and organizers labeled as “radical”, “anarchist”, or “anti-authoritarian” have been engaged in these struggles both on the front lines and supporting from behind. Some of us settlers have only now realized our responsibility in challenging colonialism and ourselves. Regardless of whether you have been working for years in solidarity or are just beginning to put anti-colonialism into practice many complex challenges come up when attempting to work in solidarity with Indigenous communities. It is integral that we learn from our mistakes and our successes. This book aims to look specifically to those who are doing, acting and creating.

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