Proceedings of The 3rd Global Conference on Women’s Studies
Postcolonial Feminist Theory and the Decolonization of Research: A Synergistic Framework for Transnational Feminist Collaborations
The purpose of this article is to present a synergistic framework for transnational feminist collaborations which draws upon the affordances of postcolonial feminist theory and decolonizing research methods. This framework was originally developed for a narrative inquiry study of one Afghan woman’s (Parvana’s) storied experiences and multiliteracy practices. This collaborative study explored a counter-story to homogenized and static western portrayals of Afghan women as silenced and in need of saving. Drawing upon key tenets from postcolonial feminism and decoloniality, the study focused heavily on collaborative research processes and Parvana’s epistemic authority through co-constructed interviews, free-flowing conversations, and participant-generated narrative data, including Parvana’s written stories, chats about books that held special meaning for Parvana, and discussions about Parvana’s photographs and artifacts. In the writing of the study, Parvana’s life story was re-presented through a poetic re-storying which honors her storied and daily lived experiences in her own words. Carefully selected and rearranged excerpts from narrative data highlight in poetic form how Parvana utilizes a wide range of complex and creative multiliteracy strategies for navigating daily life in Afghanistan, including the following, among others: original story writing; the creation of a new literacy promotion program for Afghan citizens; and detailed plans for designing an original, culturally relevant, and fashionable clothing brand for Afghan women. This paper describes how the key tenets from postcolonial feminist theory and decolonizing research practices can offer feminist researchers a synergistic framework for engaging in deeply meaningful collaborative research processes, for embracing the formation of feminist alliances across difference, for critiquing colonizing assumptions behind western centric research practices, for working towards culturally and geographically appropriate approaches to knowledge production, and for more authentically understanding and supporting women transnationally.
keywords: postcolonial feminist theory, decolonizing research methods, transnational alliances, collaborative knowledge production.