Journal of International Affairs (JIA): Global Feminism is a debated nomenclature. With the course of feminist movements being largely dependent on their unique social, cultural and geographical contexts, how then, in your opinion, should Global Feminism be defined?
Nimmi Gowrinathan (NG): The idea of a "one universal feminism" is very difficult to achieve. Particularly at the present moment, I'm not sure what such an aspiration would achieve politically. I think that there should be space for multiple, complimentary, feminisms. My interest is really in a kind of situated feminism. For instance, how does one get to, first, understand the positioning of women in the global south under multiple layers of repression? I talk about it in terms of concentric circles of captivity: family, community, culture and the state. It is essential to understand the view from this position and acknowledge it. It is from this space that one should be able to see other women similarly situated in the United States, Europe, and other contexts. I think that you understand the deep, layered, oppression that so many women are under; the work of identifying sources of repression in itself becomes an important political through-line linking these communities and their women. Resistance has to emerge from a situated kind of feminism, which is why I hesitate to say that any one form of feminism could be universal.
JIA: In militarized regions, the identities of individuals are largely political in nature. Is there then a place for gender identities in regions of conflict?
NG: I do not think that there is a separate gendered identity outside of political identities. I think that in militarized regions, in which I would include the United States, political identities are formed based on experience, and most experiences of repression are deepened by gender. So, gender is inextricably linked to the political identity that is formed in reaction to militarization. I do not see that as a separate identity--rather one, complex, political (and politicized) identity.
I believe that mobilization happens along political lines. Where gender plays a role is in the politics that are formed. Even in the initial stages where people do mobilize around purely gendered identities (violence against women for example), I believe that in order for that to be effective, eventually, those will have to take on a more politicized form (addressing the root causes of violence).
JIA: "Deviarchy" is...