A wide range of issues besieges women globally, including economic exploitation, sexist oppression, racial, ethnic, and caste oppression, and cultural imperialism. This book builds a feminist social justice framework from practices of women's activism in India to understand and work to overcome these injustices. The feminist social justice framework provides an alternative to mainstream philosophical frameworks that promote global gender justice: for example, universal human rights, economic projects such as microfinance, and cosmopolitanism. McLaren demonstrates that these frameworks are bound by a commitment to individualism and an abstract sense of universalism that belies their root neo-liberalism. Arguing that these frameworks emphasize individualism over interdependence, similarity over diversity, and individual success over collective capacity, McLaren draws on the work of Rabindranath Tagore to develop the concept of relational cosmopolitanism.
Relational cosmopolitanism prioritizes our connections while, crucially, acknowledging the reality of power differences. Extending Iris Young's theory of political responsibility, McLaren shows how Fair Trade connects to the economic solidarity movement. The Self-Employed Women's Association and MarketPlace India empower women through access to livelihoods as well as fostering leadership capabilities that allow them to challenge structural injustice through political and social activism. Their struggles to resist economic exploitation and gender oppression through collective action show the vital importance of challenging individualist approaches to achieving gender justice. The book is a rallying call for a shift in our thinking and practice towards re-imagining the possibilities for justice from a relational framework, from independence to interdependence, from identity to intersectionality, and from interest to socio-political imagination.
About the Author
Margaret A. McLaren teaches Philosophy and Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies at Rollins College where she holds the George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Chair of Philosophy. She is the author of Feminism, Foucault, and Embodied Subjectivity (SUNY Press, 2002), and the editor of Decolonizing Feminism: Transnational Feminism and Globalization (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2017). Her articles on women and human rights, feminism, cooperatives and economic empowerment, and Foucault have appeared in several journals, including Social Theory and Practice, Journal of Developing Societies, Forum on Public Policy, Philosophy Today, and Hypatia, as well as in a number of book anthologies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Situating the Project
Chapter 1. Women's Activism as a Model for Feminist Theorizing: MarketPlace India and the Self-Employed Women's Association
Chapter 2. Women's Rights as Human Rights: Feminism and Universal Human Rights
Chapter 3. Globalization and Women's Empowerment
Chapter 4. Toward A Relational Cosmopolitanism
Chapter 5. Responsibility for Global Justice and Transnational Feminist Solidarity Projects