Feminist and postcolonial critiques of neoliberalism

The seminar aims to discuss neoliberal and postcolonial networks of power, including their relation to gender, race, class, caste, sexuality, ability and other contextual axes of subordination. The critique of neoliberalism shows that within this system of capitalism, every aspect of life becomes increasingly economized. This includes the sphere of the political and social. It also turns individuals to entrepreneurs, thereby making people ‘responsible’ in their own conditions of marginality. However, the ways in which these transformations happen are deeply gendered, racialized, classed and produced through specific power regimes. When seen through this neoliberal frame, rights become a matter of deservingness and social structures are neglected at the cost of exclusive focus on individual ‘choice’. Further, differences that are tied up with inequalities in modern societies - such as gender, sexuality or race - are co-opted as ‘resources’, which can be advertised and commodified. Hence, questions related to justice are often turned into opportunities for marketing inequalities as ‘saleable’ segments.
This course helps students ask questions and critically analyze market rationalities and the excessive economization of social life. The course brings together texts and analysis by feminist and postcolonial scholars to ask from an intersectional perspective what forms of social engagement and identities are made possible within a neoliberal enterprise-based framework. Students will also study how forms of ‘knowledge’ are contested and patriarchal and colonial logics disrupted in the process of asking ‘what is knowledge’. This enables a search into the ideas of individualism, choice and agency that are advanced through neoliberal economising logics. Here we ask is there such a thing as ‘free choice’? We illustrate alternative possibilities for the imagining of agency, freedom and choice. Furthermore, we bring forth discussions on and examples from eco-feminist endeavours all over the world, to indicate how possible anti-capitalist and anti-neoliberal ways of thinking and being are imagined and executed.







Gender Studies


Universitäre Hochschulen (UH)