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“Marginalization” in third world feminism: its problematics and theoretical reconfiguration

Palgrave Communicationsvolume 2, Article number: 16026 (2016) | Download Citation

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 07 June 2016


With the imposition of certain notions of agency and marginalization prescribed by first world feminist discourses, global feminism has cumulatively remained mired within a binaristic closure. This closure is based on the idea of an agentive Western feminist center and a passive third world feminism at the margin. This article endeavours to go beyond this closure to initiate debates regarding the operational praxis of a third world woman’s marginal placement as articulated in third world feminist discourses. It problematizes the idea of “disempowerment” that stems from a patriarchal model depicting man as the nucleus and a woman as a peripheral and centripetal entity, drawn within the mise en abyme of self-consolidating representations. Therefore, the argument presented here revisits the notion of the marginalization of third world women by subjecting the theoretical approaches regarding female marginalization and agency—as articulated by Spivak, Irigaray and Kristeva, et al.—to a deconstructive mode of analysis to explore the theoretical reconfiguration of a third world woman’s marginal placement. This article reconsiders the margin as discursively “limitrophic” so that the binaries between the margin/center, agency/disempowerment and third world feminism/first world feminism are re-scrutinized. The margin, thus, becomes an agentive plane for a third world woman as she uses it to direct her gaze away from any discursive center. In this way, a third world woman undermines the West-centric centripetal force despite being englobed within what Kristeva calls “supranational sociocultural ensembles” and sees her “self” as independent of any fixed center so that she redefines herself as an autonomous thinking woman able to dismantle the notion of a congealed subalternity. This article is published as part of a thematic collection on gender studies.

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  1. Department of English, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan

    • Asma Mansoor


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Correspondence to Asma Mansoor.

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