Latinx Feminist Thought
- Author(s): Garcia, Rocio
- Advisor(s): Ortiz, Vilma
- et al.
This dissertation uses mixed qualitative methods to explore the ideas and experiences of Latinx feminists spanning national origin, sexuality, race, and generation status not only to reimagine what we think we know about identity, social movements, and knowledge production, but also how we come to know it. Scholars theorize the Self as produced through social interactions and internalizing how individuals see each other, yet Latinx communities experience the institutionalized disappearance of their bodies, political power, and knowledge. How, then, is the Self formed under these circumstances? Across four empirically-driven chapters, I explore how Latinx feminists make sense of and contest their disappearance in four realms: ideology, discourse, reproductive politics, and academic knowledge production. I argue that for those on the margins, the Self is formed through the production of political lenses in relation to current and future realities, producing what I term politicmaking. I define politicmaking as the creation of imaginaries for being in the world that make salient intersecting oppressions rendered invisible in non-intersectional politics and discourses, motivated by the need to affirm marginalized subjectivities, love, knowledge, and joy. As a relational approach, politicmaking requires the negotiation of fluid and contentious ideas and experiences of privilege and oppression that interrogate the erasure of Indigeneity, Blackness, feminisms, and queer experiences in views of and from Latinx communities.
Based on a nearly three-year ethnography with California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ)—a social movement organization engaged in policy advocacy in the movement for reproductive justice—I find that their activism, rooted in how white supremacy, settler colonialism, and other structures affect reproduction, contends with a larger terrain of reproductive rights that prioritizes gendered inequalities. By resisting intersecting inequities and non-intersectional discourses, Latinx feminists make politics that negotiate the similarities and differences across Latinx reproductive experiences. As a result, they create counter narratives of Latinxs as whole selves who also experience autonomy and joy. To further understand how Latinx feminisms are practiced across time and space, I trace some of the permutations of politicmaking through content analysis of various cultural forms, including texts in the humanities and social sciences, podcasts and social media, and literary art.
Throughout the dissertation, I show that Latinx feminists as politicmakers develop a sense of being as contested communities, shifting from the Self as identity to the Self as an ongoing, relational, political stance. Specifically, I explore the relationship between Latinx feminist thought and Black feminist theories in the United States, the distinguishing features that connect Latinx feminisms across social locations, the controlling images that impinge on Latinxs’ abilities to exert self-determination, the contentious perspectives on race and Latinidad, the difficulties and necessities of building solidarity at the intersections of movements and identities, and the implications of sociological research on understandings of Latinx migration as a gendered process. I connect Latinx feminist praxis with Du Bois, Hill Collins, Hunter, and others who examine what it means to resist in a racialized body that is not fully seen. By linking these theories with data on social movements in reproductive politics, I begin to trace the origins and features of a pan-ethnoracial Latinx feminist framework. This framework offers lessons for imagining political solidarity built upon the messiness of difference and sameness. I reveal that Latinx feminists have created a transformative body of knowledge about intra and intergroup relations and political futures that remains either unknown or undervalued.