“Beyond sisterhood there is still racism, colonialism and imperialism!”: Negotiating gender, ethnicity and power in a Madagascar mangrove

Authors: Manon Lefevre*,
Topics: Gender, Ethnicity and Race, Environment
Keywords: Decolonial, feminist, political ecology, Madagascar, mangroves
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Third world and women of color feminisms have, for decades, critiqued a colonial universalism that produces “third world women” as passive victims of globalization. Following decolonial feminist thought, this paper challenges dichotomies of colonial modernity, in order to challenge climate change discourses and policies that perpetuate colonial legacies of power. I argue that universalizing women’s experiences of climate change and environmental degradation obscures the ways in which colonial structures of power affect women’s experiences of climate change and participation in climate-related decision-making, simultaneously reifying those covert structures of power. In this work, I explore women's participation in climate change initiatives in Madagascar, and seek to uncover the lingering colonial articulations of ethnicity and gender that justify uneven ethnic and gendered dispossession in climate change initiatives. In Madagascar, I contend that an imposed colonial ethnic ordering led to the naturalization of ethnic and gender categories that contribute to the exclusion of some women from climate change initiatives today. This lingering colonial ethnic hierarchy obscures the history of emerging circuits of capital and shifting land use patterns that continue to divide women. Colonial articulations of power thus have lasting material consequences in climate change initiatives that continually reify colonial categories of order that foreclose solidarity among women. I hope that illuminating these legacies of colonial violence, as well as the ways in which they are continually re-enacted today, allows for an anti- and decolonial feminist resistance among women facing the effects of climate change.

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