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FEMINISM À LA QUEBEC: IDEOLOGICAL TRAVELINGS OF AMERICAN AND FRENCH THOUGHT (1960-2010)
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This dissertation examines the travelings of three concepts central to feminism - gender, queer, and intersectionality - as they move between the United States, France, and Quebec. The concept of gender, central to U.S. feminism, is relatively absent from feminist theory in France and Quebec until the 1990s; rather, drawing on Marxist and existentialist traditions, French and Quebec feminists will deploy the term "rapports sociaux de sexe" to identify that differences among women and men are grounded in social structure and, further, that the two classes, women and men, are constituted in hierarchicized relation. The term queer, linguistically subversive in English but lacking this potential when translated into French, is mainly resisted by French materialist feminists and feminist scholars in Quebec on the basis that it displaces social reality focusing instead on resistance through performance. Nonetheless, in Quebec, activists groups such as Les panthères rose are able to present a version of queer that also addresses systemic oppressions. Finally, the concept of intersectionality, theorized first by feminists of color in the U.S. trying to reconcile their allegiances to multiple struggles, provides a useful tool for analyzing the interaction between different systems of oppression and how they shape the lives of people differently located. In France, a similar desire to theorize multiple oppressions led to the development of the concept of "consubstantialité des rapports sociaux," whereby social "rapports" of sex and of socio-economic class are co-constituted. Yet, in the context of changing immigration patterns and a debate on the headscarf, French feminists re-examine the concept of intersectionality to enhance their understanding of racialization and its interaction with gendered structures. In Quebec, a look at three different moments reveals an early theorization of the interaction of multiple oppressions by capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism with feminists, drawing on their experiences as separatist movement participants, self-identifying as "racialized" based on the model of Third World national liberation struggle. In the 1990s and again in 2007, however, feminists will struggle to develop new models of pluralism that address the marginalization, within society in general and also within feminism, of women from minority ethnocultural or religious groups.