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Postcolonial Feminism Among Epistemological Views Essay

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Updated: Jul 7th, 2021


The modern world is characterized by the increased attention to the development of such aspects as humanity, tolerance, and quality as the basics of society’s evolution and cooperation between individuals. Cultivation of these notions gave rise to multiple civil movements aimed at the improvement of the position of depressed minorities or marginalized groups that suffer from biased attitudes. Feminism can be considered one of the phenomena belonging to this cohort as it tries to reconsider the role of women in communities and provide opportunities for their development. However, further sophistication of the contemporary world gave rise to the emergence of multiple perspectives on how this movement should evolve and what values should be cultivated. For this reason, today, feminists have a number of epistemological locations that revolve around different problems affecting groups of women, and how they can be solved. For instance, postcolonial feminism emerged as a response to traditional feminism that is mainly focused on women of the Western world. Thus, the vulnerable position of women in countries with colonial past shows that the given paradigm should be given significant attention because of its relevance.

Literature Review

The discussed movement emerged as a part of the third-wave feminism peculiar to the 1980s under the necessity to recognize diversified women’s needs and experiences. The given idea also became a representation of the new way of thinking of people at the end of the 20th century (Chambers & Watkins, 2012). Due to the growing resistance to various forms of differentiation and the negative attitude to the image of a third world woman traditionally promoted in Western countries, feminist activists started to realize the necessity to reconsider the paradigm aimed at the improvement only of the Western world and devote attention to non-white, non-European women who still suffered from the manifestations of racism, discrimination, and colonialism (Chambers & Watkins, 2012). In such a way, postcolonial feminism presented an opposing viewpoint to mainstream ideas stating that individuals living in third world countries are misrepresented.

Another critical element of postcolonialism is the emphasis on the negative impact of colonization and how it altered people who lived in these areas. The continuous attempts to depress cultures and change mentalities resulted in the emergence of the idea of second sort humans who should be treated in different ways (Chambers & Watkins, 2012). Feminist activists who utilize this idea state that while western women can benefit from all achievements of civil movements, females of other countries are still taken as primitive, violent, toxic, and sexualized (Van der Tuin, 2009). This divergence in perspectives results in the disregard of the wide population’s needs as they are considered insignificant regarding the global discourse and attempts to improve the state of individuals (Tlostanova, Thapar-Björkert, & Koobak, 2016).

The question of sex, gender, and relations between men and women also become critical for postcolonial feminism. Today, there is still a biased image of a non-white woman whose position can be significantly improved if a white male marries her (Chambers & Watkins, 2012). Additionally, in the majority of cases, marginalized females are considered sexual objects that can be possessed easily without any objections (Kerner, 2017). This situation is unacceptable in modern society because of the necessity to provide equal opportunities for representatives of all classes, nationalities, and cultures. That is why postcolonial feminists outline a need to step aside from the traditional paradigm of feminism and devote attention to countries that have traditionally been taken as less significant ones to improve the quality of women’s life there.

Furthermore, regarding the growth of Western feminist theoretical models and their undoubted dominance, the necessity to attract attention to the problems of non-Western and non-white minorities becomes critical for the further reconsideration of social relations and attainment of high levels of tolerance and equality. Postcolonialists insist on the necessity to transform the existing framework with the pivotal aim to include so-called third world women in the discourse and reveal their problems that emerged under the impact of colonial past and discriminative patterns that still remain in modern societies (Kerner, 2017). For this reason, the discussed paradigm presupposes broader thinking as one of the ways to elaborate a more relevant theoretical model and contribute to the improvement of women’s states in various regions.

Finally, postcolonial feminism touches upon the role of government and other institutions of power in the development of areas that had a colonial past. In accordance with this perspective, the further evolution of communities is connected with the regulations introduced by the local authorities to eliminate the basis for the emergence of any discriminative patterns or biased attitudes toward women because of them being non-whites (Tlostanova, Thapar-Björkert, & Koobak, 2019). In such a way, the discussed paradigm can be considered an attempt to attract both society’s and governments’ attention to the problems of third world women because of their significant scope and the need for immediate actions to ensure that not only European feminism will provide benefits for females living in the Western world.

Issue Statement

In such a way, regarding the information provided, it is possible to formulate the following issue statement that helps to better understand the existing problem and answer all critical questions emerging in the course of its investigation. Thus, the following thesis can be offered:

The 21st century’s feminism acquires new paradigms and epistemological locations driven by the necessity to solve all problems depressed or marginalized communities face; however, the postcolonial approach seems to be one of the most relevant ones because of its focus on the most critical issues of the so-called third world countries. In this regard, can this very position suffice the current females’ needs and be effective enough to reconsider the existing situation and attain success?

Utilization of the given issue statement will help to achieve success while analyzing the fundamentals of postcolonial feminism and the role it plays in modern international discourse.

Research Questions

The improved understanding of the role of postcolonial feminism in the modern world and the way it shapes society and its responses can be achieved by answering some research questions that are introduced to cover the issue and outline the most critical elements of the discussed topic. Thus, they can also guide the discussion and contribute to the increased relevance of findings by guaranteeing the inclusion of all meaningful aspects in the analysis. In such a way, the following ones can be offered

  • What are the key aspects of postcolonial feminism?
  • What is its main difference from the other four feminist epistemological positions?
  • Why do these differences emerge?
  • What are the main goals of third-wave feminist movements and how they shape modern society?
  • What are common perspectives peculiar to all existing epistemological positions of feminist activists?
  • How can postcolonial feminism be popularized and integrated with contemporary society?

The utilization of the given research questions is critical for the improved discussion of the major elements of postcolonial feminism and the achievement of its improved understanding.


In such a way, the discussion of postcolonial feminism becomes critical for the improved understanding of the problems women face in the modern world. For this reason, one of the central ideas of this epistemological position is the necessity to attract attention to the needs of women who suffer from colonial impacts of the past. As against other movements, this one is focused on the elimination of the biased attitude to women of the third world because of their vulnerable positions and multiple barriers they face in their development (Chambers & Watkins, 2012). At the same time, the primary cause for the emergence of this paradigm was the critical need for the reconsideration and replacement of old frameworks revolving around the needs of western and white women who were able to benefit from the improvement attained by feminism. Instead, postcolonialists emphasize the necessity to broaden the target audience and include other women in it.

Being one of the third-wave movements, postcolonial feminism, as other four paradigms, pursue the goal of the transformation of classical or traditional feminism with the primary aim to provide better conditions to marginalized groups that were previously disregarded or excluded from the international discourse because of the ideas of their inferior character. This fact also preconditions the existence of common perspectives on how feminism should continue its evolution and what ideas should be cultivated to attain success (Chambers & Watkins, 2012). All new ideas that oppose traditional feminism can also be taken as paradigms that tend to attract people’s attention to undiscovered or understudied aspects of women’s lives which is critical for the modern international discourse. In such a way, one can observe the tendency towards the increasing importance of marginalized minorities that suffer from various forms of discrimination or biased attitudes.

Finally, regarding the increased importance of the discussed paradigm, it is possible to state that its utilization can become one of the possible ways to achieve a new level of understanding between its communities’ members. That is why the postcolonialists’ efforts should be supported by various organizations and authorities with the primary aim to create the basis for the further improvement and creation of a new society deprived of all negative impacts or influences of the past. These epistemologies can become an appropriate option for other feminist activists to understand the existence of other problems different from traditional ones.


Altogether, the existence of multiple epistemological positions of modern feminism can be explained by the necessity to attract people’s attention to the various needs of women that suffer from discrimination and biased attitudes. Postcolonialists, as representatives of a new wave, emphasize the fact that in the majority of countries that experienced colonization, the role and position of females remain extremely vulnerable. It is preconditioned by the alteration of their cultures and the negative attitude of the rest of the world to non-whites and non-Europeans. In such a way, there is a critical need for the transformation of traditional feminism and it’s becoming broader to include all categories of depressed women and offer ways in which their positions can be enhanced as it is the only way to achieve high levels of mutual understanding and cooperation.


Chambers, C., & Watkins, S. (2012). Postcolonial feminism? The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 47(3), 297–301. Web.

Kerner, I. (2017). Relations of difference: Power and inequality in intersectional and postcolonial feminist theories. Current Sociology, 65(6), 846–866. Web.

Tlostanova, M., Thapar-Björkert, S., & Koobak, R. (2016). Border thinking and disidentification: Postcolonial and postsocialist feminist dialogues. Feminist Theory, 17(2), 211–228. Web.

Tlostanova, M., Thapar-Björkert, S., & Koobak, R. (2019). The postsocialist ‘missing other’ of transnational feminism? Feminist Review, 121(1), 81–87. Web.

Van der Tuin, I. (2009). ‘Jumping generations’: On second- and third- wave feminist epistemology. Australian Feminist Studies, 24(59), 17-31.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Postcolonial Feminism Among Epistemological Views." July 7, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/postcolonial-feminism-among-epistemological-views/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Postcolonial Feminism Among Epistemological Views'. 7 July.

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