Towards De(s)colonial Research in the Global Rural: A Feminist Feeling-Thinking Study with Rural Women in Colombia

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Pini, Barbara
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Baker, Sarah
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This dissertation is a feminist de(s)colonial study with rural women in Colombia. It documents and validates the lives, labour and agency of rural women by re-signifying place as a site of resistance and negotiation within a neoliberal context. Descolonialism is not a concrete theory. It is a process that is alive, emphasising the openness of identities, the entanglement of ways of thinking and the notion of feeling-thinking. It is an approach that opens up spaces to think from the localities and social spaces of activism and research. In using descolonialism as the epistemology for this thesis, I implemented a feminist participatory visual methodology, collecting data from two case studies in the towns of Toca and Minca. The case studies involved focus groups that included photo-elicitation interviews with campesina women, as well as the collaborative organisation of two photographic exhibitions where further informal interviews were conducted with the community. Data for the thesis were also generated through in-depth interviews with women activists involved in social movements and organisations focused on rural women in Colombia. Collectively, the data demonstrate that rural women are agents in place, resisting colonial practices such as the impact of climate change, agroindustries, machismo and exploitative tourism. While campesina women experience social inequality, they enact resistance in places such as the home, vereda, and the city, and contest violence against their territories bodies-lands. As such, rural women in Colombia challenge their positioning by hegemonic feminisms and neoliberal projects as lacking agency and in need of saving. The research demonstrates the importance of feminist, feeling-thinking, place-based research to conceptualising the countryside as an embodied relational space constituted by multiplicities and histories. In calling for alliances that trouble neoliberal projects (including academia) I conclude this thesis by stating that there is an urgent need to support autonomy struggles in Colombia, in the context of the critical historical moment after the peace accord signature with the FARC-EP in 2016. Overall, this thesis contributes to the growing literature emerging from the Global South that makes visible and supports the progressive politics and new paradigms that question the colonial bias of hegemonic feminisms and neoliberal projects.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Hum, Lang & Soc Sc
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Rural women
Feminist feeling
Feminist thinking
Hegemonic feminisms
Neoliberal projects
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