Here we share co-editor and co-translator Liz Mason-Deese’s edited remarks from the launch of Feminicide and Global Accumulation, published by Common Notions. Watch the full video of the launch event with Silvia Federici and Susana Draper here. And find the book here!
Five years after the International Forum on “Feminicide and Global Accumulation” we publish this edited translation of the “memories” – not only the papers and presentations given at the event, but also the dialogue, the question and answers, the songs, the rituals that made up this space of encounter among nearly 300 women from around the world. Why translate this book now?
There are many reasons. First, to share and give voice to the experiences of these brave women who are fighting against multiple brutal forms of violence in their everyday lives, from that of mining corporations and paramilitary groups that use violence to try to drive them off their lands, to the everyday slow violence of not having adequate access to food, medicine, and shelter, to the multiple forms of male violence that are intertwined with these. These women courageously came together in the city of Buenaventura, in one of the most violent places in the world, to share their stories and experiences, to learn from one another, and to construct new strategies for combating this violence. Because, as all the participants emphasize, these women and communities are not merely victims to violence, they are also actively resisting it and collectively producing new forms of life and new social relations not founded on violence, through what they call re-existence. We hope to expand that work through this translation that allows these stories to travel and to make new connections.
In doing so, we want to emphasize that the resistance showcased in this book forms part of a broader wave of feminist organizing across Latin America. This includes organizing against feminicide and the multiple forms of gendered violence, as well as fighting to secure new rights, as we saw in Argentina recently with the victory of the right to legal, safe, and free abortion. Across the continent, this movement has been massive, dynamic, and fundamentally radical, challenging the roots of oppression and adopting to specific conflicts in specific territories.
This feminism has been described as popular, communitarian, antiracist, and decolonial but here I want to emphasize something about its methodology, which I think comes across clearly in this book and is characteristic of this feminist tide as a whole. The interventions presented here, and the perspectives they represent, start from a recognition of difference; that is, they do not start from assumptions of what it means to be a woman, that we all have something in common or have experienced violence in the same way. The interventions at the forum and in the book emphasize precisely how violence is racialized and classed, how it targets specific communities in specific ways, according to the needs of capital. But, starting from that recognition of difference and specificity, they weave together a more complex and complete cartography of forms of violence, allowing us to see their interconnections and, in doing so, to recognize ourselves as part of a common struggle. We see this translation and publication as participating in that process, translating experiences and struggles from particular places and contexts into a language that can hopefully inspire and resonate with struggles elsewhere. As part of that process, we also included new texts in this edition, which speak specifically to the cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women in North America, to explicitly draw out the links between different contexts of violence.
This investigation into forms of violence takes seriously all different types of knowledge and knowledge production, forms of knowledge that are often not recognized as such, and that are often violently excluded from academic discourses. That is why, in this translation, we have tried to maintain, as much as possible the sensibility of the event, the multiple types of interventions, including singing, dancing, prayer, ritual, artistic expressions, that make up other ways of knowing that are essential for understanding both feminicidal violence and resistance to it.
Finally, with the translation, we also hope to introduce new concepts and analyses into the conversation about gender-based violence in the English speaking world and thus provide new tools for activists. As we say in the editors’ introduction to the volume:
Throughout the text we use the term feminicide rather than femicide, although the latter term is perhaps more common among English-speaking people. Femicide is a broad term used to refer to the intentional killing of women or girls because they are female. Latin American feminist organizations and theorists have developed the concept of feminicide as it enables us to refer not only to the killing of women for being female, but to the systematic nature of these killings and the complicity of the institutions of the state and capital. It is used by women in this forum not merely as a descriptor of the multiple forms of violence that women face daily, but directly, as a political operation. By highlighting the structural and institutional causes of violence against women, and the relationships between different forms of violence, we can better resist and challenge that violence and create new ways of being together in the world. Beyond constructing women as victims of violence, participants have emphasized the multiple tactics, strategies, and levels of resistance that women and LGBTQI+ people are always engaged in. We hope that by insisting on the concept of feminicide we will encourage more conversations with activists in the English-speaking world and deepen our understanding of the systemic nature of violence against women and gender nonconforming people and its roots in colonial and capitalist power-structures and institutions.
Thus, we hope that this translation serves as a political and conceptual tool, that it provokes and inspires, and that it enables new connections and collaborations between struggles.