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Accepted Paper:

Colombian professional feminists: political subjectivities of transnational activism  
Lucie Naudé (Central European University)

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on ethnographic work with Colombian feminist NGO workers, the paper challenges the demarcations of the good feminist subject in the NGOized field of transnational activism for women’s rights and studies the modalities of construction of feminist political alliances despite power asymmetries.

Paper Abstract:

Since the 1990s, many critiques have targeted “professional feminists”, i.e. the visible political subjects of processes of institutionalization and NGOization of radical politics. These critiques have finely described and analyzed how these processed have narrowed the scope of social transformation in different sociopolitical contexts, how social movements and organizations have developed their collective action within restrictive frameworks of global agendas, and how the logic of the project relies on rationalized ideas of social change. In this context, professional feminists have implicitly been demarcated as bad activists or simply not acknowledged as such. This paper unpacks the moralized assumptions about what constitutes a good or a bad feminist subject in the context of NGO politics in Colombia, related to normative ideas about the legitimacy of certain type of political subjects and the appropriateness of certain feminist practices.

The paper discusses ethnographic material collected with a group of privileged white-mestiza Colombian feminist NGO workers who have been at the forefront of institutionalized feminist politics in the country over the last decade. By unpacking their ethical dispositions and affective attachment to feminism, their awareness about the political contradictions they inhabit, and the political imaginaries they rely on to sustain their political work, I delve into the formation of political subjectivities in the context of transnational activism. I argue that despite their in-between position of professional feminists, their ethical engagements to a feminist imagined community with other feminist activists sustain transnational political alliances across power asymmetries.

Panel P238
Becoming/ being an activist: reflections on a key political subjectivity of late capitalism
  Session 1 Friday 26 July, 2024, -