Exploring Young Black/ African Canadian Women’s Practices of Engagement and Resistance: Towards an Anticolonial Solidarity Building

  • Author / Creator
    Pillay, Thashika
  • The experiences of young women of Black/ African descent living in Edmonton/ Amiskwaciwaskahikan – in what is currently Canada – are mediated by relations and structures of power as constructed through settler colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism, and neoliberalism. These political, economic, social, and cultural structures and systems organize the world and influence young women’s responses, both as individuals and as collectives. Young women of African descent are also influenced by African Indigenous Knowledge Systems (AIKS), a philosophy rooted in a relational worldview and culture in which knowledge is collectively and community oriented. A critical analysis of these interlocking structures and worldviews is integral to understanding the process through which the emergence and formation of subjects and selves as well as the collective occurs.

    This study is positioned within an Indigenous hermeneutics and draws on the work of Manulani Aluli Meyer as well as Desmond Tutu’s conceptualization of Ubuntu. Using a critical qualitative research design that included focus group and semi-structured interviews with nine young women participants and analysis of relevant documents, I explored the following research questions:

    1. What challenges, barriers, and marginalizations do young African Canadian women face as they understand and enact their agency and citizenship? 1a. How are these challenges and subsequent responses, resistances, and subversions communicated among and between young African Canadian women?
    2. How do African Indigenous systems of knowing, seeing, and being influence young African Canadian’s women’s practices of understanding, engagement, and resistance in their local, national, and extra-local communities?
    3. What educational and activist platforms are needed to construct new possibilities for individual and collective resistances?

    My analysis and discussion revealed the emergence of a shared collective consciousness, an African Canadian onto-epistemology of justice, and has illustrated that young Black/ African Canadian women’s systems of knowing, seeing, and being in this world and of how they respond to their experiences and lives are drawn, in part, from their understandings of indigeneity, culture, and traditional ways of being, knowing, and seeing. This shared vision is also influenced by shared experiences of colonial, capitalist, and patriarchal subjugations that unify women in their resistance to economic, political, social, and cultural exploitation. I also assert that this shared onto-epistemology requires spaces of engagement. Community, then, becomes an emergent space for decolonial and anti-colonial resistance that must be engaged for educative purposes through a pedagogy of critical anticolonial feminism. I suggest that these revisioned spaces of engagement, education, resistance, solidarity, and activism as well as the processes of engagement can produce an agenda to resist patriarchy, capitalism, (settler)colonialism, and neoliberalism.

    Within the context of this research project, AIK represents a distinctive knowledge system that can be understood as a collective philosophical consciousness, as embodied though a shared epistemology and ontology rooted in the collective ethic of young women. This collective sense of responsibility women displayed for each other is rooted in a distinctive cultural philosophy that encompasses a shared historical consciousness, collective experiences of marginalization, oppression, and resistance, and, therefore, a collective vision of justice that is feminist and anticolonial.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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