Jules Falquet on “Gender in Translation”


Jules Falquet is Senior Lecturer in Sociology, a member of CSPRP (Centre of Sociology of Political Practice and Representation) and CEDREF (Centre for Teaching, Documentation and Research in Women’s Studies). She is responsible for the research master’s program on gender and development at University Paris Diderot. She works on “progressive” social movements (revolutionary movements, indigenous peasants, feminists and lesbians) and resistance to neoliberal globalization, from the perspective of Latin America and the Caribbean. She also analyzes neoliberal re-organization of social power relations of gender, class and “race” in the context of materialist and antiracist feminist theory.

Jules Falquet will take part in the conference “Gender in Multiplicities: Intersectionality, Decoloniality, Assemblages, Co-Formations: French and U.S. Conversations” on November 18th, 2016 at UC Berkeley.

-> What triggered your interest in Gender Studies?

The injustice of male absurd dominance and violence in the society I live in and also, where my friends and beloved too, live.

-> According to you, has the reflection on Gender Studies evolved over the past years, if we consider the publication of “Gender Trouble” by Judith Butler (1990) a reference point?

Why should we give such importance to a single person, who wrote something many lesbians and feminists already wrote and knew? 1990 is rather the turning point of the spreading of neoliberal globalization, just after the destruction of the Berlin wall and just before the dissolution of the USSR. Globally, gender studies evolved from a political and radical position (including a lot of internal complexities and political differences), rooted in strong and multiple social movements, which themselves were a response to the societies of their times, to a more institutionalized perspective. On one hand, the years and hard work of many allowed a rich accumulation of analyses and a complexification of reflexions. On the other hand, academic feminism, and dominant gender theories are now increasingly impossible to understand for non-academic women, and even sometimes used against the less privileged —non-white and non-bourgeois women and men. For instance, they are used to pretend that white occidental bourgeois “values” should rule the world and that we should all accept neoliberal “democracy.” So called “gender equality” is increasingly used as a tool to disguise and even impose a racist, capitalist and patriarchal system, as we can see in many “development” perspectives, and is also used against immigrants and working class people in general).

-> The operation “Gender in Translation” as it has been conceived originally tries to put into perspective French and American approaches to Gender Studies. Does this distinction still seem relevant to you? Why?

The distinction between the United-States’ and French approaches is still crucial, as long as the two contexts are deeply different: in their colonial history; in their class, race an sex histories; and in their social movements and social theorization. America as such includes many countries that also produce very interesting and different feminist and gender theories, mainly marked by their political (neo) colonized situation and long lasting forms of resistance.

-> Could you define the specificity of your approach to Gender Studies?

My approach is rooted in the French materialist feminist perspective, as well as in the perspective of interlocking systems of race, class and sex developed originally by black US activists and in Abya Yala decolonial feminist approaches. I strongly believe that feminist theory (rather than gender theory) is produced in collective struggles and should serve social justice.

->Does your research in the field of Gender Studies bear a civic and/or political engagement? Is this an important aspect for you?

Any research is political, and so is mine —even though I have no illusion about the academic world being a “revolutionnary place.”  The academy is a workplace and a State ideological apparatus, and with neoliberal globalization it has become, in many countries, another big neoliberal business.

->As a scholar/artist/thinker/curator/…, what does the title “Gender in Translation” evoke for you?

Translation is something I do on a daily base as a necessity to understand and be understood. It is not only the words but the contexts too have to be rendered understandable, to allow real understanding. I love words and recognize the importance of using them for what they really mean.


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