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date: 18 April 2024

Gender Violence, Colonialism, and Colonialityfree

Gender Violence, Colonialism, and Colonialityfree

  • Natália Maria Félix de SouzaNatália Maria Félix de SouzaDepartment of International Relation, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo
  •  and Lara Martim Rodrigues SelisLara Martim Rodrigues SelisInstitute of Economics and International Relations, Federal University of Uberlândia


Feminist perspectives on gender, colonialism, and coloniality have provided important contributions to the discipline of international relations, particularly by producing dislocations on the established political imaginary. By critically engaging issues of embodiment, violence, and resistance, these perspectives have been able to subvert epistemological positions that objectify subaltern experiences, particularly those of colonized and racialized women. Furthermore, feminism’s ability to account for non-Western experiences of colonialism and coloniality has demanded a fundamental commitment to re-signifying gender violence in ways that markedly challenge its mainstream connotations.

In that sense, distinct Latin American and Afrocentric critical approaches have opened different avenues to politicize gender without ignoring the experiences and knowledges of colonized, racialized, and sexualized populations. Their differing perspectives on embodiment emerge from the voices, practices, and struggles of women who refuse liberal diagnoses and solutions to their multiple, long-standing oppressions and experiences of violence. In this regard, it is important to highlight the centrality of popular, communitarian, and indigenous feminists whose actions and reflections have been sustaining revolutionary debates on bodies, states, territories, capitalism, and so forth. A reconstructive feminist narrative must seriously engage with existing practices of resistance to understand the ways in which they have already been reconstructing political imaginaries and grammars. In following this path, a critical feminist approach to international relations can abandon its modern academicist ambitions for universal solutions to recover the plural narratives, memories, knowledges, and interpretations of people as opportunities for experiencing another discipline and, hopefully, another world.


  • International Relations Theory
  • Political Sociology
  • Politics and Sexuality and Gender


The other is, therefore s/he thinks.

(. . .) Who knows, I may even conclude that, if I think, then I am also an Other1

(Viveiros de Castro, 2008, p. 117)

The impetus to always be the speaker and speak in all situations must be seen for what it is:

a desire for mastery and domination.

(Alcoff, 1991, p. 24)

The debate on power and violence constitutes one of the most enduring narratives that has organized the field of international relations (IR). The authority of those concepts has prevailed not only on the definitions of IR research agendas but also on the constitution of scholars’ identities. Yet, there are few critical engagements with the philosophical or cultural bases of such masterful ideas. Students are often presented to studies that take power as a theory of domination from which follows a hierarchizing perspective of politics. Relations of super- and sub-ordination make politics a field necessarily buoyed by violence, the nature and inevitability of which are often taken for granted. The conceptual imbrication between notions of violence, order, and sovereignty has assured the centrality of state-centric perspectives in the field—especially its more orthodox subfields, such as international security, international political economy, and foreign policy.

The encounter between IR thinkers and Global North feminists, set by the so-called third debate, was certainly important for dislocating some of that orthodoxy and promoting theoretical innovations in the field.2 The discipline was called upon to reimagine its ontological and epistemological presuppositions (Tickner, 1997), whose deep-seated Western and androcentric legacy was tacitly and uncritically assumed by researchers and academic journals. Among these dislocations, a fundamental feminist contribution to the field was to inaugurate a debate about the body as both an analytical category and an epistemological statement (Steans, 1998; ; Tickner, 1997). The notion of an embodied subject/perspective has enabled explorations of violence as a practice that not only targets the physical body and its subject positionings but is constitutive of it.

The politics of the body was also, and more radically, propelled by the encounter between feminism and postcolonial thoughts. Although historically inevitable, both contacts, between IR and feminism and between those and the voices coming from non-hegemonic positions (in terms of race, class, nationality, sexuality, and so on), have not been without friction. For the Brazilian feminist social scientist Luciana Ballestrin (2017), the encounter between feminism and postcolonialism in the 1980s was marked by contributions, tensions, and limits to the transnationalization of the feminist agenda. While feminism and postcolonialism shared several insights and political positions (mainly those questioning universalism), they were also pervaded by disagreements. Even if postcolonial thinkers such as Edward Said (1978) and Frantz Fanon (1952) did not ignore the fundamental difference between men and women, and their roles in the process of colonization, they underplayed the centrality of sexuality or gender in the structure of colonialism. Similarly, feminists of the first and second generations were inattentive to enduring power hierarchies relating to the colonial enterprise and therefore tended to universalize the category of woman and the structure of patriarchy. In the process, they often invisibilized the structuring role that race played in producing global power.

The attempt to work through these tensions came from subaltern feminisms—a category that Ballestrin (2017) borrows from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1988) to generalize the many brands of feminisms that questioned not only the invisibility of women of color oppressions within anticolonial and race-based struggles but also the tendency of hegemonic feminisms to ignore the operations of sexuality and gender outside the West and within different cultures.3 These feminisms underscore the absence of universality within feminism and their many different interests and political positions. What is more fundamental, perhaps, for the purposes of this essay is to recognize how this encounter between feminism and postcolonialism produced extremely nuanced understandings of gender that find political traction in postcolonial realities.

In light of this claim, this article takes as its starting point the commitment to discuss feminist perspectives on gender, colonialism, and coloniality and gives special attention to the dislocations they produce on the established political imaginary. For that reason, the text offers a critical engagement with perspectives on embodiment, violence, and resistance, looking to subvert epistemological positions that tend to objectify subaltern experiences, particularly those of the colonized and racialized women. Learning with the ironic turn that marks Viveiros de Castro’s interpretation of Descartes that opens this introduction, it places IR, feminist, and postcolonial categories into object positions while assuming subaltern experiences of violence and resistance to be the questioning subject, capable of dismantling the politico-ideational structures of silencing.

The first section opens with a discussion of how gender violence has to be re-signified to be able to account for non-Western experiences of colonialism and coloniality. The argument moves through distinct positions emerging from Latin American and Afrocentric critical perspectives on gender, such as those by Maria Lugones, Oyèrónkẹ́ Oyěwùmí, Ifi Amadiume, Rita Segato, and Julieta Paredes. The goal is not to analytically settle their differences but to open different avenues for politicizing gender that do not ignore the experiences and knowledges of colonized, racialized, and sexualized populations. This discussion highlights the insufficiency of Western accounts of gender violence that organize international politics and the discipline of IR.

The second section turns to the differing perspectives on embodiment that emerge from centralizing the voices, practices, and struggles of women who refuse liberal diagnoses and solutions to their multiple, long-standing oppressions and experiences of violence. The text follows the actions and reflections proposed by popular, communitarian, and indigenous feminists who have been sustaining revolutionary debates on bodies, states, territories, capitalism, and so forth. The last section follows the reconstructive path that comes out of the previous discussions, by seriously engaging existing practices of resistance and the ways in which they have been reconstructing political imaginaries and grammars. In doing so, it abandons the modern, academicist ambition of proposing universal, forthcoming solutions to multiple challenges lived by so many others and instead tries to recover their narratives, memories, knowledges, and interpretations as themselves opportunities for experiencing another discipline and, hopefully, another world.

Gender Violence/Gender as Violence: Reflections on Gender and Coloniality

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is one of six United Nations Conventions and particularly legislates about the need to end discrimination against women as a way to achieve their full enjoyment of rights and freedoms. Seen as an international bill of rights for women, “CEDAW is law without sanctions” (Merry, 2006, p. 72) and therefore requires the commitment of states’ parties for its effectiveness. Adopted by the General Assembly in 1979, CEDAW went into force in 1981, translating the ideas about the status of women that were being discussed between the 1950s and 1970s.

CEDAW and the ensuing agenda of women’s rights as human rights are strongly premised on the need for a cultural transformation of gender roles in order to achieve gender equality (see Bunch, 1990; Bunch & Fried, 1996). Although the convention did not originally commit to abolishing gender violence (Kelly, 2005), two further General Recommendations adopted by the monitoring committee—General Recommendation 12 (1989) and 19 (1992)—would address the issue of gender-based violence in the overarching framework of discrimination. General Recommendation 19, in fact, became the basis for the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, adopted in 1993 (Merry, 2006). It defines gender-based violence as “violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty” (General Recommendation 19).

General Recommendation 19 further defines family violence as “one of the most insidious forms of violence against women” since it affects women in all ages who are subject to “battering, rape, other forms of sexual assault, mental and other forms of violence, which are perpetuated by traditional attitudes.” The latter, seen to be sedimented on different cultural practices, are in fact considered to lie at the basis of many forms of violence against women, including sexual and reproductive violence and violence afflicting rural women.4 Furthermore, the document includes concerns about forced sterilization and abortion, illegal abortion, wars and armed conflicts, trafficking and prostitution, and sexual harassment. Poverty and unemployment are considered discriminatory to the extent that they expose women to trafficking, prostitution, and sexual exploitation.

This shows how the international normative framework sets up a discursive economy of gender in which (a) gender becomes somewhat correlated to women and girls, attached to a universal, descriptive category; (b) gender violence becomes intelligible within a framework of discrimination and inequality between men and women, and its solution becomes part of a liberal strategy of achieving gender equality; and (c) a liberal, state-centric account of politics is universalized, premised on the public/private division, the heterosexual contract, and the achievement of individual rights and freedoms.

Much criticism has been raised within the West against this framework, questioning gender equality as a sufficient or desirable outcome, problematizing law as a patriarchal institution with little capacity to transform deep-seated social relations, and denouncing the state as the main source of women’s insecurities and vulnerabilities (see Charlesworth, 2011; Charlesworth et al., 1991). Beyond these very important questions, however, lies a different and perhaps more complicated set of discussions that emerge from the problematization of the very applicability of the concept of gender within colonial and postcolonial contexts. Decolonial and communitarian feminist perspectives, in this regard, have been able to reposition the concept of gender and gender violence in a way so as to question the very violence reproduced by gender when postcolonial realities are read exclusively through gender, without taking account of its adequacy.

The concept of coloniality was forged in the late 1990s by a group of Latin American authors known as the Modernity/Coloniality Group—which includes Edgardo Lander, Arturo Escobar, Walter Mignolo, Enrique Dussel, Aníbal Quijano, and Fernando Coronil. Their goal was to denounce the conquest of the Americas in the 16th century as the starting point of a global pattern of power that came to structure modernity/coloniality through race, gender, and class. Since then, the concept of decoloniality has traveled very far, leading to a proliferation of calls for decoloniality and decolonization by the end of the 20th century. In this broadened sense, decoloniality has been called to respond to a vast history of political resistance of black and indigenous populations rather than retaining the analytic precision of the earlier academic debates (Cusicanqui, 2010). The present article tries to follow this broad, political dimension of decoloniality, which is grounded on the political struggles for resistance and re-existence of afrodiasporic, black, indigenous, and Third World communities (Bernardino-Costa et al., 2020).

An important achievement of the modernity/coloniality group was to systematize discussions that were so far scattered among black thinkers and make the concept of race central to understanding the modern/colonial world-system. While these traditions must be preserved,

it is necessary to bring to the first plane the political struggle of black women, quilombolas, the diverse black movements, the candomblé communities, young people from the peripheries, of black aesthetics and art, and the wide range of activists and intellectuals

(Bernardino-Costa et al., 2020, p. 10, authors’ translation)

By stretching the lines of that discussion, decolonial feminists sought

to open the discussion about other feminized bodies and, even more, to move from a single definition of violence (always domestic and intimate, therefore confined) towards an understanding of it in relation to the spheres of economic, institutional, work, and colonial violence.

(Gago, 2020, p. 73, authors’ translation)

Behind this effort to pluralize the meanings and connections of violence is a core realization about the need to move beyond the very limits of “gender violence.”

The decolonial critique of gender has received a more sustained engagement by Maria Lugones. By juxtaposing women of color and Third World feminists’ critique of Western accounts of gender and the coloniality of power framework set up by Aníbal Quijano (2000), Lugones (2007) offers the concept of the colonial/modern gender system. This system, according to Lugones, has a light and a dark side: on the light side, biological dimorphism, heterosexualism, and patriarchy organize the field of social relations; on the dark side, colonialism, coloniality, and dehumanization form the very basis of all relations.5 This distinction denounces gender as a colonial concept—a concept that did not preexist colonization but was constituted by and constitutive of coloniality. As such, gender is seen as insufficient and inadequate to account for patterns of domination established over the colonized people, at the fractured locus of the “colonial difference.”

[G]ender is a colonial imposition, not just as it imposes itself on life as lived in tune with cosmologies incompatible with the modern logic of dichotomies, but also that inhabitations of worlds understood, constructed, and in accordance with such cosmologies animated the self-among-others in resistance from and at the extreme tension of the colonial difference.

(Lugones, 2010, p. 748)

In this reading, the hegemonic light side of the colonial/modern gender system, while violent, regulates a relationship among humans, setting up a binary normative pattern in which woman becomes the non-complementary, dichotomous pole of man, who is seen as the normative ideal of humanity. To assume this side, however, to be the main or exclusive starting point for understanding social relations all over the world is to be blind to coloniality and its multiple forms of dehumanization meant to fit people for classification and domination. Within this hegemonic perspective, gender is the starting point, a concept structuring every society all over the world: it is a universal system of oppression of women by men. There is no room to question the profound imbrication between race and gender in the structure of colonialism and the production of dehumanization.

Much to the contrary, “the dark side of the gender system was and is thoroughly violent”, producing profound changes in the lives of “anamales, anafemales, and ‘third gender’ people” (Lugones, 2007, p. 206). The colonized, sexed but not gendered populations, have been animalized, pushed to forced sexual encounters with the white colonizers, and strictly removed from participation in all social, religious, political, and economic activities. From that perspective, decolonial feminism accepts gender not as being a set of universal operations based on heterosexuality, biological dimorphism, and patriarchy but as being differentially constructed along racial lines to structure systems of collective authority, all relations between capital and labor, and the entire structure of knowledge that sustains such a system. In that sense, the profound imbrication between gender and race make up the entire capitalist structure that allowed it to produce control over labor, its resources, and products.

Lugones’s decolonial feminism charges Quijano’s coloniality of power framework for its uncritical endorsement of the hegemonic understandings of gender/sex and therefore its inability to ground a properly decolonial praxis. Because she sees the coloniality of gender as “constituted by and constitutive of the coloniality of power, knowledge, being, nature, and language,” Lugones claims that “there is not de-coloniality without de-coloniality of gender” (Lugones, 2010, p. 757). Therefore, decoloniality is not a theoretical but a praxical task: “it is to enact a critique of racialized, colonial, and capitalist heterosexualist gender oppression as a lived transformation of the social” (Lugones, 2010, p. 746). The decolonial feminist cannot start from a gendered reading of different cosmologies, but she has to account first for the cosmologies that inform different social realities.

The suggestion is not to search for a non-colonized construction of gender in indigenous organizations of the social. There is no such thing; “gender” does not travel away from colonial modernity. Resistance to the coloniality of gender is thus historically complex.

(Lugones, 2010, p. 746)

At this point, it is important to contrast Lugones’s account of gender to that found in other feminist approaches to colonialism and coloniality, both within and outside Latin America. Much has been said about the diverging understandings of gender found among subaltern feminists. A crucial difference is said to separate more radical perspectives on gender that associate it exclusively with Western modes of sociality—such as seen in Maria Lugones (2010), Oyèrónkẹ́ Oyěwùmí (2021), and Ifi Amadiume (2015), for instance—and more moderate perspectives that, while cognizant of the profound differences between gender roles in pre-colonial realities, still resort to gender to account for patriarchy within ancestral (Feministas Comunitarias de Abya Yala, 2016), pre-colonial (Paredes, 2014), or pre-intrusion (Segato, 2012) worlds.

The different positions on the relation between colonialism and the native gendered social structures are usually sustained by anthropological findings and historical studies about the indigenous cultures. Therefore, the critique to one or another tends to problematize the reading and mobilization of such findings. For Ballestrin (2017, p. 1047), for example, Lugones’s decolonial feminism uncritically accepts Oyěwùmí’s refusal of gender as an organizing principle of Yoruba societies before Western colonization. In her attempt to complicate Quijano’s coloniality of gender and underscore the need to move away from gender as the main organizing category of oppression within the colonial difference, Lugones (2007) systemically recites Oyěwùmí’s (2021) thesis as a way to account for the double operation of colonialism: on the one hand, the inferiorization of colonized people through race; on the other, the inferiorization of anatomic females (which Oyěwùmí calls anafemales) through the imposition of a Western gender system that was alien to Yoruba societies.

The Nigerian feminist sociologist is set in articulating an African critique of oppression, showing that if gender is a social construction, then the category of woman is not universal (Oyěwùmí, 2020, 2021): it is an invention within Western society that, while revealing a number of oppressions, can also serve to occlude other modes of existence, sociality, oppression, and desire. By emphasizing the anatomic differentiation of male and female and treating gender and sex as equivalents (in a move that defies much feminist scholarship), Oyěwùmí claims that these distinctions were superficial within pre-colonial Yoruba society, in that they did not take a hierarchical dimension. Still, according to her, Western feminists, in the process of making gender visible, also contributed to creating gender.

Oyěwùmí claims that the central concepts of Western feminism—women, gender, and sorority—are rooted within the nuclear family, and their endorsement by white feminists often reinforces the forms of violence associated with this family structure, while claiming to be denouncing and contesting it. An example used to clarify this point is found in the (oxymoronic) concept of the “single mother.” The centrality of the sexual relationship with a man in the affirmation of motherhood shows how in the West the identity of the mother remains subjugated to the woman’s identity as a wife in the structure of the nuclear family. “The formation of couples through marriage is thus placed as the basis of the social division of labor” (Oyěwùmí, 2020, p. 90, authors’ translation). As such, the entire society is structured patriarchically as a nuclear family, in stark contrast to the Yoruba family structure, linked by ties of lineage and seniority.

The ways in which lineage affects gender ascription and gender roles in African societies had been previously discussed by the Nigerian anthropologist Ifi Amadiume, whose work shifted gender discourses as early as the 1980s. In her award-winning book Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender and Sex in an African Society, published in 1987, Amadiume (2015) discusses the flexibility of gender within some African societies, in which gender roles were occupied by both men and women. In indigenous Nnobi society, a matricentric and matrilineal community, the figures of “male daughters” and “female husbands” were occupied by women acting as family heads—a genderless position by the very linguistic definition of the Nnobi people. Without being able to rehearse the details of her discussions on gender in African societies at this point, one must stress that Amadiume is part of a powerful African scholarship set to defend Afrocentric perspectives from the profound Eurocentrism of most knowledge production—a task that fits well within the scope of the decolonial feminist position and its refusal of gender as a legitimate decolonial category.

And yet, other critical Latin American feminists thinking through the processes of colonialism, coloniality, and dehumanization refuse to relegate gender entirely to the Western imaginary. Departing from the same decolonial analytical framework, Segato (2012, 2013) disputes Lugones’s conceptual conclusions that rule out the existence of gender and patriarchy in the pre-colonial world. In fact, Segato’s historical and archeological research grounds the claim of a dual, yet non-binary, gender structure and the existence of a “low intensity patriarchy” in the village-world—the world before the intrusion by the colonizers. The difference between the duality of gender relations of the village-world and the binary gender structure imposed by coloniality is not hierarchy—this was well established before the colonizers came—but binarism, the fixation of gender categories within separate, supplementary (rather than complementary) categories, denying both of them ontological and political fullness. “When one of these terms becomes ‘universal’, that is, of general representation, what was hierarchy becomes an abyss, and the second term converts into remainder and residue: this is the binary structure, different from the dual” (Segato, 2012, p. 122, authors’ translation).

In a similar vein, Julieta Paredes (2014), in advancing the tenets of communitarian feminism, is more concerned with salvaging the revolutionary potential of gender as a category of denunciation of indigenous women’s oppressions from the depoliticization of gender going on within many brands of white feminism that use gender as a descriptive category in order to advance public policies for gender equality. For Paredes, “gender” works like “class”: two categories that denounce forms of oppression that structure the whole of society. Consequently, just as there can be no equality of class, there can be no equality of gender. What can and should exist, instead, is the strategic denunciation of class and gender—a profound understanding of their inner workings—as a way of overcoming a class-based and a gender-based society.

For Paredes (2014), gender is not a descriptive or attributive category but a denunciation of an unfair, oppressive, and exploitative relationship established by men over women. This conceptualization of gender during the 1960s and 1970s was, however, stripped off of its revolutionary potential and turned into a neoliberal strategy used by bourgeois women to impose neoliberal public policies. Gender equality is a depoliticized concept because it erases the relational aspect between masculinity and femininity, the fact that one is built on the devaluation of the other. What communitarian, racialized women want is to end with gender as a system of power and oppression, not equalize men and women in domination.

In light of this understanding of gender, Paredes defines patriarchy much more comprehensively than Lugones. Patriarchy is, for communitarian feminists, the system of all the oppressions, exploitations, violences, and discriminations lived by humanity (man, women, and intersexed people) as well as nature. As a consequence, colonization is seen as an instrument of patriarchy rather than the opposite. As profoundly interrelated systems, patriarchy and colonization cannot be understood separately, making decolonization first and foremost a process of depatriarchalization.

That which renders patriarchy such an all-encompassing structure is the “patriarchal junction” (entronque patriarcal), a new configuration of power that started with the colonization of Abya Yala in 1492.6 Patriarchal junction recognizes the existence of an ancestral patriarchy, which existed within pre-colonial societies, and a colonial patriarchy strongly tied to the Western imperial legacy. The two patriarchies were independent from one another up until 1492, and then they started to complement, articulate, and intertwine with each other but with damning effects for women of Abya Yala (Feministas Comunitarias de Abya Yala, 2016, p. 47). However, their junction is a matter of not only juxtaposition or superposition of one domination over another but the inauguration of a new social reality and a different configuration of oppressive powers.

The effect of this is the creation of a planetary system of patriarchal domination, under the auspices of the European-colonial patriarchy, which starts by colonizing other times, erasing other historicities. It recycles and updates its mechanisms, becoming more subtle, and yet produces all of its accomplishments over the bodies of its women. Colonial penetration alludes to the sexual basis upon which colonization was produced, a way of not only seizing the fruits and products of the colonized territories but invading and colonizing the bodies of its women and men, capturing their spirit.

In this regard, not all struggles by women are depatriarchal, since many women contribute to recycling patriarchy. For communitarian feminists, there is a threefold task: to decolonize gender as a colonial concept, recognizing its existence in communities prior to colonization; to overcome gender as a neoliberal concept; and to revolutionarily undo gender as a category, ending the categorization of people and their socialization as feminine and masculine. It is not enough to recognize the complementarity of the chacha-warmi, men and women, without making the denunciation of gender within the community and denouncing the naturalization of discrimination.7 The reconceptualization of this complementary pair goes along the lines of a non-racist, non-sexist, and non-classist complementarity, toward warmi-chacha (Paredes, 2014).

Therefore, while starting from different understandings of gender and patriarchy, decolonial, Afrocentric, and communitarian feminists seem to arrive at a similar claim: that colonization introduced an entirely new system of oppression and violence, in which racial and sexual domination were used to produce dehumanization and capitalist accumulation and had devastating impacts in all forms of life, including nature itself. As such, these debates on gender pluralize and dislocate understandings of violence that are present in the discipline of IR as well as in more hegemonic debates of feminism. If gender under colonialism cannot be analyzed apart from race and the dehumanization of bodies, spirits, communities, and nature, then the struggle against patriarchy and gender violence has to be a struggle against all of these forms of violence, that have very different manifestations in the bodies of colonized people, particularly colonized women.

For those, gender violence is not exclusively attached to Western accounts of gender, premised upon the binary separation between the public and private spheres, and the organization of the heterosexual family. While domestic violence, sexual violence, reproductive violence, femicides, transvesticides, and the denial of rights to sexual minorities constitute a very explicit manifestation of gender violence, debating gender in the context of colonialism and coloniality takes it beyond identitarian and symbolic claims about that which is feminized to place it in the context of the material expropriation to which racialized bodies were subject in the course of colonization and primitive accumulation. The next section will discuss how the concept of the body can be reconceptualized to contribute to the decolonization of gender.

The Politics of Embodiment Under Colonialism: Violences, Bodies, Territories

As seen in the previous section, the Western attachment to solipsist and atomized imaginaries is fractured by communitarian, decolonial, and African feminists, whose perspectives continuously resist falling into universal/particular dichotomies. Such epistemological reconstruction dislocates a series of antagonisms regarding the body, such as body/mind, flesh/soul, individual/collectivity, and so on. In this regard, decolonial, indigenous, and communitarian thinkers take the conceptualization of the body toward plural directions, including the idea of a material space, time, or text where corporative and illegal exploitations are inscribed or where “the structure of war is manifested” (Segato, 2014, p. 22, authors’ translation). Contrary to modern, Western imaginaries, the body is not an individual or abstract category. Corporeality is an integral enterprise, “which ranges from biogenetics to energy, from affectivity, through sensitivity, feelings, eroticism, spirituality and sensuality, until reaching creativity” (Paredes, 2014, p. 100, authors’ translation). Furthermore, for communitarian feminists, the notions of body, space, movement, and time are all connected.

Although the experience of the struggles passes through the body of each one individually, it is also true that we feel, live and build collectively. We assume our body as a social movement, in which we alternate places among ourselves so as not to repeat the vices of popular movements, where some are the ones who lead and others who are led, some who think and others who do.

(Feministas Comunitarias de Abya Yala, 2016, p. 60, authors’ translation)

According to Paredes’s proposition, the existence of the body as both individual and collective ontology is manifested in three domains of life: (a) each one’s biography, (b) the quotidian, and (c) the history of the communal village (Paredes, 2014, p. 99). The space where life is developed is responsible for connecting those three domains. The notion of space includes places of personal experiences, like home and schools, and those of communitarian production, such as the territory, common lands, villages, the landscape, and geography. Besides, for the communitarian perspective, spatiality also carries a vertical axis composed of three other dimensions: “above,” “here,” and “below.” Time and space are consubstantial matters. Hence, the “above” refers to the aerial space, where (tele)communications are exchanged, while the notion of “here” indicates a localizing spot, where people ground their bodies, movements, and decisions and where the present becomes possible; finally, the below represents the spatiality of the past, the place where the ancestors live, along with the natural resources of Pachamama (Paredes, 2014).8

Knowledge, history, and memory are also manifestations of a time taken as both finite and circular. In this sense, the time and the space of everyday existence are connected to those of the historical movements, and the body is presented as the line sewing together such circularity. The body connects the present and the past, the personal and the collective experiences. Similar images can be found in other indigenous and communitarian feminists (Cabnal & ACSUR-Las Segovias, 2010; Gargallo, 2014) who assume women’s bodies and communal territories as interchangeable arenas, where colonial exploitation first took place. For that reason, indigenous women emphasize the impossibility of separating their struggles against imperialism, capitalism, and gender violence.

Still, according to this perspective, if the body can be experienced as a territory, the territory also assumes a bodily meaning. From that realization emerges the concept of a body-territory, a political proposition that gives material representation and tactical direction to the inseparable relation between depatriarchalization and decolonization. According to the Argentine academic and feminist activist Verónica Gago (2020), the continuum body-territory translates the impossible separation between the effects of exploration that reach the human body, its territory, and nature, all at once. Therefore, it is a notion that escapes attempts to dichotomize individual and collective experiences, human and non-human domains. In this destabilizing idea, the body-territory dismantles the political and epistemic attachments to neoliberal notions of division and private property.

The conjunction of the words body-territory speaks for itself: it says that it is impossible to cut and isolate the individual body from the collective body, the human body from the territory and the landscape. Body and territory compressed as a single word de-liberalizes the notion of the body as individual property and specifies a political, productive and epistemic continuity of the body as territory. Thus, the body reveals itself as a composition of affections, resources and possibilities that are not “individual,” but are singular, because they pass through the body of each one to the extent that each body is never just “one,” but is always already with others, and with other non-human forces as well.

(Gago, 2020, p. 107, authors’ translation)

The separation of gender perspectives from neoliberal imaginaries promotes a particular dislocation of Western notions of public and private spheres. When the body is taken as territory and then disconnected from its individual borders, it is also removed from domestic isolation. Violations and extractions of value perpetrated against women’s bodies are not different, nor separated, from the reasons and meanings behind the conflicts promoted in the name of sovereignty or capital. The raison d’état, a term that founds the political language of IR, has its meaning revised and expanded by the encounter between power theories and feminist propositions. For these, the idea of a sovereignty over one’s own body contests the juridical monopoly of the State over that principle. Sovereignty is then conceived as a right of resistance of women’s body-territory against the violent advances of men, state, and neoliberal enterprises. Such a reviewed grammar “raises another political economy and another non-state-centric geography” (Gago, 2020, p. 114, authors’ translation), which amplifies traditional ideas on security and threats as well as on protections and citizenship.

Therefore, the body-territory idea calls attention to the constitutive connections that work through structures of violences, allowing juxtapositions that reject “the thematization of domestic violence as a gender ghetto” (Gago, 2020, p. 96, authors’ translation) to be explored and ghettoized solutions or victimizing narratives to be avoided. The body-territory requires salvaging the revolutionary potential of gender as a category, against neoliberal cooptation, which involves a serious disposition to recognize the pluralization of violences. In this process, one has to pay attention to the risks of deflecting their eyes from the constitutive connections between violences and to avoid focusing only on their description or systematic quantification.

[Pluralizing violence] is something much denser: it's a way of mapping their simultaneity and their interrelation, that is, connecting the broken homes to the lands devastated by agribusiness, the salary gap and the invisible domestic work; linking the violence of neoliberal adjustment and crisis to their contestation by the feminized protagonism of popular economies, and relating all of this to the financial exploitation through public and private indebtedness; linking the forms of disciplining disobedience at the hands of the blunt repression of the State and the persecution of immigrant movements to the imprisonment of the poorest women, criminalizing subsistence economies, and women who practice abortion to the racist motivation of each one of these violences.

(Gago, 2020, p. 72, authors’ translation)

The commitment to this complex cartography is related to Gago’s understanding of “war” as a more precise category to account for the set of strategies that have historically been used to explore bodies-territories in order to sustain capitalist accumulation. Gago’s proposition follows the argument made by Segato, who suggests the existence of a persistent war against women, lesbians, trans people, and transvestites, which is grounded in the systematic and structural nature of gender violences. Segato avoids the individualistic diagnosis so common in pathologizing analyzes that tend to read cruel performances of masculinity as exceptionalities. According to her, masculinity has to be seen for what it represents: “an identity dependent on a status that encompasses, synthesizes, and confuses sexual power, social power, and the power of death” (Segato, 2003, p. 37, authors’ translation).

Drawing on that, Gago attempts to tie femicide cases together with several domains where male authority has been repositioned. Particularly, she identifies four sites where neoliberal violence circulates to ensure the accumulation of capital alongside exploitation, which in turn produces precarious subjectivities: (a) domestic spheres, (b) peripheral illegal economies, (c) transnational arenas of land spoliation, and (d) processes of financialization of social life (Gago, 2020, p. 83). This multilevel articulation of violence constitutes a rearticulation of patriarchal power that tries to promote obedience in the face of destabilization. According to this logic, the high levels of unemployment and wage depreciation that followed female participation in the labor market have all promoted fractures in the logic of power whose foundation lies in the masculine monopoly over the economic and symbolic capital. This crisis in the core relation between patriarchy and capitalism has not, however, taken a disruptive direction. On the contrary, their re-pairing has actually restructured their violent technologies, and local illegal economies and global value chains have provided convenient outlets for their operation.

In these terms, violence is certainly a resilient phenomenon, whose perpetuation is reciprocally connected to hierarchical regimes coming from long-standing gender contracts that are greatly resistant to change. Segato argues that the structure of this violence is organized around two main axes: “a horizontal one, formed by terms bounded by relations of alliance or competition; and a vertical one, characterized by relations of surrender or expropriation” (Segato, 2003, p. 253, authors’ translation). The horizontal contract establishes a binding relation among pairs, whereby the violator announces his allegiance to the group, while the vertical axis produces asymmetrical relationships that signal the violator’s power over his victim.

Regarding the crimes of cruelty, the horizontal axis can address violations that assume the form of a man’s “aggression or affront against another generic man, whose power is challenged and his heritage usurped through the appropriation of a female body” (Segato, 2003, p. 32, authors’ translation).9 Despite any individual causation, violence against the female body appears in that scene as a strategic technique for the “ongoing cycles of power restoration” (Pereira, 2007, p. 459). For that reason, both Gago and Segato agree on the pluralized structures of violence that operate with and through regimes of gender.

In relationships marked by status, such as gender, the hierarchical pole is constituted and carried out precisely at the expense of the subordination of the other. As it was said: power does not exist without subordination, both are by-products of the same process, the same structure, which is enabled by the usurpation of one's being by the other. In a metaphorical sense, but sometimes also literally, rape is a cannibalistic act, in which the feminine is forced to become a giver: of its strength, power, virility. In this aspect, rape is perceived as a disciplinary and avenging act against a generic woman (Segato, 2003, p. 31, authors’ translation).

This idea resonates with communitarian and decolonial feminisms. Within their logics, gender violation involves some sort of fracture, denial, and extraction against the oppressed self, spirits, body, community, and nature. As Fanon also described, this subtraction is part of an interrelated and continuous process of dehumanization that can only lead to “the death of aboriginal society, cultural lethargy, and the petrifaction of individuals” (Fanon, 1963, p. 93). In this regard, Segato compares the extraction of human value with the process of capitalist accumulation. In her view, “all extraction of economic surplus value also behaves as an extraction of symbolic surplus value, which is equivalent to saying that every class regime behaves, at the sociocultural level, as a status regime” (Segato, 2003, p. 255, authors’ translation). Gago’s argument (2020) makes a similar claim that the war against women is not disconnected from the “civil war” fought by the capitalist against the working class. In this perspective, Gago expands the idea about the space (the factory) and the temporality (labor journey) of that civil conflict which is then connected to illegal economies, land exploitation, establishment of sovereign borders, and so on. In doing so, she produces a more comprehensive analysis of the techniques and places of gender exploitation in the 21st century.

In short, male power, taken as the surplus value of patriarchy/capitalist economies, assumes the form of a loss for female and feminized bodies. Gender violence is then a constitutive technique that ensures the defense of the Western, male, neo-extractivist property over their bodies, communitarian sociability, and territories. The pluralized and capillarized violence ensures the experience of loss, by transmuting female vulnerability into precariousness as the condition for surplus transference. These new forms of violence that work on the recomposition of male authority are fundamentally related to “the social cooperation between illegal and a-legal, immigrant and popular economies in which domestic-community labor functions as vertices of new proletarian zones in neoliberalism” (Gago, 2020, p. 85). In this horizon, decolonial feminists clarify how the exploitation of bodies, just like the spoliation of land, assumes neo-extractivist meanings, demanding not only a new approach to gender violence but also new elaborations about the resistance against it.

Decolonization as Depatriarchalization: Resisting Neoliberal Gender Perspectives

Gago’s (2020) propositions highlight the non-obvious nature of the connections and meanings that tie the web of violences structuring postcolonial contexts. The “machinery of exploration and extraction of value,” as she called capitalism, “implies increasing levels of violence that have a differentiated—and therefore strategic—impact on feminized bodies” (Gago, 2020, p. 72, authors’ translation). Confronted by this complexity, many feminist movements of resistance have made it their goal to denounce the lack of recognition about the “differences and inequalities present in the feminine universe, despite biological identity” (Carneiro, 2003, p. 118, authors’ translation).

At the turn of the 21st century, an increasing feminist agitation strikes particularly Latin American societies, leading authors to identify a new wave of contestation marked by transversal and transnational solidarities (Matos, 2010; Selis & Souza, 2021; Souza, 2019). Indigenous women marches, LGBTQIA+ struggles for rights, communitarian feminist contestations, and the empowerment of black movements are important forces in this scenario. Movements in defense of democracy (#elenão, in Brazil), against labor exploitation (#NosotrasParamos, in Argentina), denouncing gender violence and femicide (#NiUnaMenos, in Argentina; el violador eres tu, in Chile), and demanding public accountability in face of political violence have also made it impossible for the hegemonic ears to remain deaf to their calls.

These movements emerged in the wake of a long history of struggles carried out by women coming from different contexts and with heterogeneous agendas. In the late 20th century, feminist activism was characterized mainly by internal negotiations and cleavages, which grounded its potential for building a strong transnational solidarity, not devoid of contradictions. In fact, the organizational challenges of these social movements that were formed in a region with cultural, economic, social, and political heterogeneities became a source of strength in their ability to produce solidarity across differences (Conway, 2018; Souza, 2019). Throughout the late 20th century, the feminist movements improved their discussion on intra-gender differences, consolidated intersectional articulations, and transversalized their agendas with other political mobilizations (Matos, 2010). Their capacity to promote inter-sectional dialogues in terms of class, race, sexual orientation, religion, and nationality is certainly a core point of the feminist revolutionary epistemology discussed here.

After decades of proliferating feminist contestations, the 21st century glimpses the political and strategic centralization of the voices of numerous segments of intersectional feminists and multiple identity configurations that demand their standpoints and places of speech. For Heloisa Buarque de Hollanda (2020), these movements are encompassed by two strong tendencies that organize the feminist field the early 21st century: decolonial feminism and feminism of the 99%, which expresses the critique of individualism and neoliberal feminisms. Within these two categories, Hollanda tries to map the epistemological and political transformations through which feminisms have become attentive and critical of colonialism and coloniality, the structures of inequality and domination that ensue from the continued colonial pattern structuring global power and affecting women in all parts of the world. Whereas decolonial feminists emphasize deconstruction of counter-epistemologies to confront Western imaginaries, feminists of the 99% focus on the production of a radical and transformative new ethos that supersedes the identity politics of the late 20th century to the early 21st century and instead connects the struggles for environmental justice, dignified living conditions, access to standard health, against racism, sexism, heterosexuality, and xenophobia.

According to Gago (2020, p. 98, authors’ translation),

it was the emergence of a feminism of the masses that allowed (and allows) the reading of the map of violences as a web connecting gender violence to economic, financial, political, institutional, and social violence, that has today become a widespread analysis.

Still, according to Gago, this analysis comes from the movement of the masses, from the decision to use the strike as a tool of feminism, rather than from the academia. The pluralization of violence came from the recognition of the simultaneity and imbrication between different forms of violence, experienced by singular, differently positioned bodies.10 In this understanding, it is important to assume not that bodies experience violence—and gender violence—in the same way but that the shared and transversal questioning of these violences allows them to be connected in their transformative potential.

A clarification is necessary, however: violence is not common; the common is produced by the situated and transversal questioning of violence. Connecting violences offers us a shared perspective that is both specific and expansive, critical and non-paralyzing, that weaves together experiences. Mapping violences from their organic connection, without losing sight of the uniqueness of how the nexus between each is produced, allows us to do something more: to produce a language that goes beyond cataloging women as victims.

(Gago, 2020, p. 74, authors’ translation)

It is noteworthy that the body is presented as the point of access through which the revolutionary function of gender is activated. As Gago (2020, p. 73, authors’ translation) explains, “the body of each woman, taken as trajectory and experience, thus becomes a way of access, a concrete way of locating”—which leads to the question of how to recognize and to fight the forms through which violence is singularized in each one of them. As mentioned, the common ground produced by violence, as a totalizing phenomenon, comes not from the same experience of oppression, which can only emerge as singularity, but rather from sharing the disposition for resistance. Therefore, undoing gender as a revolutionary task involves an idea of resistance and decolonization that cannot be a purely epistemological, academic enterprise: it starts with real struggles of people. This means starting from lived, embodied, communal realities of resistance and transformation to the coloniality of gender.

In these terms, the feminist decolonial proposition gets close to Fanon’s (1963) militant theory, which spoke with and for an embodied subject—“the victims of starvation and the victims of the land.”11 There is no room in this discussion for an abstract subject of resistance. Therefore, the everyday actions, thoughts, and survival of the subaltern are already a life drive against the capitalist and colonial necropolitics (see Mbembe, 2003): “the will-to-live against all adversity, pain, and imminent death is transformed into an infinite source for the creation of the new” (Dussel, 2008, p. 78). Turning their body-territories into domains of resistance is a shared disposition for those who cannot be represented by either the material or symbolic economies of neoliberal regimes.

In one of her most popular texts, Spivak tells the story of a young woman from Calcutta, who tried to turn her own body into a resisting text, hanging herself as a political act motivated by the dynamics of a nationalist armed struggle. As Spivak declares, Bhubaneswari Bhaduri should be understood as “a figure who intended to be retrieved, who wrote with her body. It is as if she attempted to ‘speak’ across death, by rendering her body graphematic” (Spivak, 1999, p. 246). In her analysis, the resistant body functions “as a text – a very moving one – to be read” (Morris, 2010, p. 6). The case of Bhubaneswari Bhaduri represents the struggle for vocalization coming from a woman whose position of subalternity has blocked all authorized channels for her to be heard or read by the signs of the hegemonic discourse.

In a somewhat similar problematization, black Brazilian feminist philosopher Lelia Gonzalez tries to demarcate the importance of retrieving those narratives and voices that have been silenced by nationalist, statist, and hegemonic discourse as a way to recover the truth that is denied by the complementary institutions of racism and sexism. Looking specifically at the Brazilian sociological construction, Gonzalez aims to tackle the foundational myth of racial democracy which keeps insinuating the existence of a racial harmony and equality among the population while systematically silencing any understanding of structural racism. Gonzalez presents two contradictory concepts to explain the functioning of such mechanisms: conscience and memory. The former refers to the dominant ideological discourse, and the latter marks the place where truth can emerge: “Conscience excludes what memory includes. (. . .) conscience is expressed as a dominant discourse (. . .) in a given culture, hiding the memory, through the imposition of what it, conscience, affirms as truth” (Gonzalez, 1984, p. 78, authors’ translation).

Through these concepts, Gonzalez exposes the contradiction that is propagated through conscience, or the dominant discourse. As the hegemonic self-image of Brazilian society, this discourse produces racism while disguising it by emphasizing that every Brazilian is equal but leaving unquestioned the racial division of space that segregates the majority of black people in the favelas, where they are systematically repressed (and killed) by state and non-state forces. In fact, “the dominant discourse justifies the action of this repressive apparatus, speaking of social order and security” (apud Gonzalez, 1984, p. 233, authors’ translation).

As for the black Brazilian woman, conscience traps her within two subject positions: the mulata and the doméstica. Mulata is the name given to the woman born from the miscegenation between a black and a white person and is derived from the word “mula,” which names a hybrid animal resulting from the crossing of a horse/mare with a donkey and refers to “something of a questionable origin.”12 According to Gonzalez, mulata in Brazil is not even an ethnic concept but a profession. In that sense, the mulata is the doméstica, or the maid. This naturalized association between the mulata and the doméstica frames all of the possibilities of the black woman in Brazil, articulating the different modes of inclusion/exclusion of their bodies.

Through the myth of racial democracy, which disguises all forms of racism and sexism, emerges the figure of the desired mulata—“mulata deusa do meu samba . . . desired, devoured by the gaze of tall princes and blondes, coming from distant lands just to see her” (Gonzalez, 1984, p. 228, authors’ translation). According to Gonzalez, becoming a desired mulata in the samba parades is the dream of every black girl in Brazil—a dream to become human by entering the field of recognition of the white people, particularly the white men.

Outside of this order of recognition, she can be nothing but the doméstica, the one whose entire subjectivity is attached to the performance of the invisible and devalued work of cleaning and caring—she becomes the “mucama,” a Kimbundu word that designates “the female black slave and pet who was chosen to help with housework or accompany family members and who was sometimes a wet-nurse” (Gonzalez, 1984, p. 229, authors’ translation, emphasis added). The mucama was the object of desire of the white master, often abused by him in the primordial phases of racial miscegenation in Brazil. The figure of the mucama continues to engender the possibilities of black women in contemporary Brazil: they either are seen as objects of desire in the samba schools or are left in the corners of the houses of their employees, kept away from all external gaze.

Racism and sexism thus translate into the overexploitation and all kinds of discrimination against black women in Brazilian society, from domestic workers to hypersexualized bodies displayed in samba schools during Carnival. However, Gonzalez highlights the need to pay attention to their forms of resistance and survival, not only in a literal sense but also in the way they keep their culture and customs alive and their demands visible. The paramount figure of this resistance is, for Gonzalez, the mãe preta, or “black mother.” Conscience frames her as the one who creates an atmosphere of kindness and tenderness to the white children, and in that role she becomes “the extraordinary example of total love and dedication” for the whites and a “traitor of the race” for many blacks who rush to judgment. Memory shows, however, that the mãe preta is, in fact, the actual mother of all Brazilian children, the one “who breastfeeds, who bathes, who cleans poop, who puts to sleep, who wakes up at night to take care, who teaches how to speak, who tells a story and so on” (Gonzalez, 1984, p. 235, authors’ translation). And, in that position, black mothers, in fact, exercised an important role of passive resistance, by Africanizing Brazilian culture with their language, “pretuguês,” and with the transmission of African values and beliefs through the stories they told to the children of white lords and landowners.13 If conscience tells that they live in Latin America, memory shows that black women have created “Ladin Amefrica” (Améfrica Ladina).

Améfrica Ladina is a powerful concept introduced by Gonzalez to recreate the history of Latin America. Améfrica, and not America, because “it is an African América whose Latinity, because inexistent, had the t exchanged by the d to effectively assume its name with all the letters: Améfrica Ladina” (Gonzalez, 1988, p. 69, authors’ translation). To face Brazilian racism—which she calls “racism by denegation,” in contrast to the explicit forms of racism historically manifested in apartheid societies, such as the United States and South Africa—is to understand that all Brazilians are ladinoamefricanos and not only the immediate descendants of the black slaves and native indigenous peoples. This is the power of the memory of mãe preta—she allows a recreation of the cultural history of Brazil that recognizes the central role of those subaltern, colonized, dehumanized people. Gonzalez’s Afro-Latin-American feminism (Gonzalez, 2020) unveils the deep-seated, unconscious workings of racism and sexism within Brazilian society in ways that center the experiences, voices, and struggles of subaltern people.


The discipline of IR has come a long way in acknowledging its more critical dissidents since its earlier inception in the mid-20th century. A lot of ink has been spilled to try to account for all the ways in which the tragic legacy of IR—that of sovereign states confronting each other in an anarchic realm—can be overcome, so that violence can become a story for history books. Yet the legacy of colonialism, the enduring structures of coloniality, and the multiple faces of gender violence continue to be marginalized topics in scholarly practices and academic conventions. Seriously engaging those questions requires more than formally acknowledging their existence as a way to make the discipline more inclusive, diverse, or plural. It involves a real disposition to unlearn one’s privileges, “working critically back through one's history, prejudices, and learned, but now seemingly instinctual, responses” (Landry & MacLean, 1996, p. 4). As argued by Spivak, the task of effectively listening to the other requires “rendering delirious that interior voice that is the voice of the other in us” (Spivak, 1988, p. 294).

Unlearning that which one has learned from their privileges as IR academics is not only possible but necessary “precisely because our assumptions about race” and also gender, violence, and colonialism “represent a closing down of creative possibility, a loss of other options, other knowledge” (Landry & MacLean, 1996, p. 4). This article sought to unlearn IR by learning from the voices of marginalized, racialized, and sexualized scholars and activists who center decolonization and depatriarchalization as the most urgent political tasks of our time.

Further Reading

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  • Viveiros de Castro, E. (2008). O perspectivismo é a retomada da antropofagia oswaldiana em novos termos. In R. Sztutman (Org.), Encontros: Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (pp. 114–129). Azougue Editorial.


  • 1. In this reflection, Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (2008, p. 117) ironically paraphrases Descartes’s famous sentence in order to demonstrate the epistemological critique that the Amerindian perspectivism presents against the modern solipsism, indicating a path for a form of thought more close to alterity potentiality.

  • 2. According to Lapid (1989, p. 235), the “third debate” in the field of international relations is related to the efforts of reconsidering “theoretical options in a ‘post-positivist’ era.”

  • 3. The category includes different feminist women movements, whether academic or not: “postcolonial feminism, third world feminism, black feminism, indigenous feminism, Latin American feminism, African feminism, Islamic feminism, feminisms from the South, decolonial feminism, feminism on the border, transcultural feminisms, etc.” (Ballestrin, 2017, p. 1040, authors’ translation)

  • 4. In fact, the tension between the advancement of women’s human rights and the respect for culture and tradition has been at the center of many critiques of liberal human rights, informing an important debate between the universality of human rights and the particularity of cultural experiences (see Ackerly, 2008; Bunch & Fried, 1996; Merry, 2006; Nayak & Selbin, 2010).

  • 5. It is important to notice that colonialism and coloniality, though correlated, are not synonymous. Whereas the first makes reference to a historically situated event, the latter indicates a logic of power that exceeds the colonial period. As Quijano states, “in spite of the fact that political colonialism has been eliminated, the relationship between the European – also called ‘Western’ – culture, and the others, continues to be one of colonial domination” (Quijano, 2007, p. 169). In that sense, coloniality “is still the most general form of domination in the world today, once colonialism as an explicit political order was destroyed” (Quijano, 2007, p. 170).

  • 6. According to Gargallo (2014, p. 23), “Abya Yala is a name coined by the Kuna's people and, especially in South America, it is used by indigenous leaders and communicators to define the south and north of the continent, since ‘America’ is taken as a colonial name with which they do not want to identify their common territory.”

  • 7. “From a biological perspective it is: Chacha = man. Warmi = woman. From a sociocultural perspective, it is marriage: the union of two opposite human beings, who govern the Aymara model as wife and husband. It is a complementary dual body in which its components are linked and interact in accordance with Aymara models. From an anthropological-cultural perspective, this idea conceives the equality of status and position of the components, to accentuate the marital balance.” (see Paredes, 2014, p. 123, authors’ translation)

  • 8. For the native peoples from the Andean region, Pachamama represents the very possibility of life, usually translated from the Aymara and Quechua languages as “Mother Earth.” It is worth noticing that Pachamama, as the generator of life, often assumes a feminine role in the native cosmogonic order, explaining the centrality of this theme (and its problematization) for communitarian feminists.

  • 9. The cruel violations refer to “the use and abuse of another’s body, without the latter participating with comparable intent or will” (Segato, 2003, p. 22, authors’ translation).

  • 10. Following Ochy Curiel and other decolonial and diasporic perspectives on gender, Gill and Pires (2019) explain the advantages of an imbricated approach over an intersectional one, situating the debate about domination and dehumanization within the framework of colonization (see Gill & Pires, 2019).

  • 11. Excerpt of the Communist International Anthem, which opens Fanon’s book, The Wretched of the Earth, written in 1961.

  • 12. Reference taken from Dicio: Dicionário Online de Português.

  • 13. Pretuguês is a neologism emerging from the juxtaposition of the words preto (black) and português (the Portuguese language of the colonizer). Gonzalez creates it as a manifestation of memory itself, rupturing the colonial Portuguese conscience to show how much of the Brazilian Portuguese is actually preto, based on the denied and silenced languages (and worlds) of the African slaves trafficked to Brazil for over 300 years.