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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Socially transformative transnational feminism : Filipino women activists at home and abroad Carrillo, Maria Lourdes


Twelve Filipino women activists who shared the same ideology were interviewed in three locations: the Philippines, the Netherlands, and Vancouver, BC. The study considers how massive migration and displacement of Filipino women have produced transnational communities of struggle that are a source of political consciousness and positive social change. The research compares personal and social changes among those immersed in daily struggle under different circumstances. It looks at how and why women and communities are transformed in the very process of struggle -- women becoming more socially empowered and communities learning to be more assertive, democratic, and politically engaged. In the stories they tell, the women historicize, contextualize, and politicize actions for structural change. While transnational feminism appears to parallel global strategies of transnational entities and nation-states, feminist movements struggle to be relevant. Mohanty (2003) sees antiglobalization activism as imperative for feminist solidarity, yet feminist projects continue to seek focused, collective efforts against neo-Iiberalism. This group’s activism enhances our understanding of feminist praxis. They jointly address neo-colonial domination (capitalist globalization) and systemic race-class-gender oppression. Economic experiences of those from a poor Majority World nation and actions from socially and politically conscious activists are integrated into community-based and academic feminist theorizing. Their analyses of global trade/labour trafficking contribute to learning about responsible communities and hope for transnational solidarity. This project proposes a socially transformative feminism that does not merely recognize antiglobalization efforts, but analyzes progressive feminist praxis that points to women’s liberation as directly linked to positive structural change locally, nationally, and transnationally, while already demonstrating its possibility. Citing the work of Mohanty (2003), Tuhiwai-Smith (2002), Sandoval (2000), and community-based research by the Philippine Women Centre of BC (1996-2006), it builds on feminist research and social change movements. It focuses on marginalized women’s/communities’ capacity to show creative assertion and political participation, and examines criteria for what is socially transformative. The study concludes by reassessing the relationship of feminism and transnationalism in the context of these women’s lives and work—the realities of migration, the dialectics of women’s marginalization and empowerment, and the perpetual, constantly changing nature of social transformation.

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