M.I.A. in the Global Youthscape

Rethinking Girls' Resistance and Agency in Postcolonial Contexts

in Girlhood Studies
Author: Lisa Weems
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In this article I explore the performance art of international hip-hop artist M.I.A. to interrogate the problematic of girls' resistance and agency within a global youthscape. Using a feminist transnational framework, I analyze how her music and celebrity persona may be considered gendered post-colonial cultural productions that highlight issues of inequality, violence and domination. I argue that M.I.A.'s cultural productions serve as pedagogical symbolic resources for theorizing girlhood in post-colonial contexts specifically around issues of sexuality. As a symbolic resource, M.I.A.'s work is pedagogical in the larger global youthscape as well as in scholarship on girls in post-colonial contexts. Specifically, M.I.A. (in her music and interviews) openly wrestles with the embodied tensions between complicity and possibility in post-colonial girlhood. Consistent with a feminist transnational framework, I argue that the identities of “Third World” girls are discursively produced as innocent yet hypersexualized exotic Others in the service and/or mercy of “First World” colonial men and women. However, M.I.A. makes explicit that within the context of globalization, the cultural politics of gender and sexuality take place on/through/with brown female bodies—whether it is in the battlefield, the street or in the bedroom. A close analysis M.I.A.'s song 10 Dollar illustrates how Third World girls exercise resistance and agency in negotiating imperialist and nationalist heteropatriarchy.

Girlhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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