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The Ethics Of Transnational Feminist Research And Activism: An Argument For A More Comprehensive View

Hamsa Rajan
Published 2018 · Sociology

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Feminist activism undertaken by global Northerners operating in the global South must contend with dilemmas around the ethics of imposing alien values and of ethnocentrically assuming that the cultures of the global North are superior to those of the global South. Such ethnocentric bias has frequently affected transnational feminist activism and commentary, as well as Northern governments’ immigration and international relations policies. To counteract this problem of ethnocentric bias, feminist scholars have proposed various methods by which to ethically undertake transnational feminist practice. Subaltern feminist activists have also undertaken particular measures to respond to the marginalization, sensitivities, and social pressures they face. In this essay, I argue that in order to ethically engage in transnational feminist research and activism, the Northern activist should adhere to five principles: namely, distancing oneself from problematic values and from feminism used as a cover for ulterior motives, discovering common viewpoints and then building upon these, engaging in advocacy that is fully absent of coercion, counteracting discourses that could further stigmatize underprivileged communities, and operating in a spirit of acceptance that both oneself and the other may be transformed through the process of transnational dialogue, a dialogue that is itself a matter in which no one party is completely right or wrong.
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