In this article, I weave together connections between notions of decoloniality and love while considering implications for decolonial praxis by racialized people settled on Indigenous lands. Through a community-based research project exploring land and body sovereignty in settler contexts, I engaged with Indigenous and racialized girls, young women, 2-Spirit, and queer-identified young adults to create artwork and land-based expressions of resistance, resurgence, and wellbeing focusing on decolonial love. Building on literature from Indigenous, decolonizing, feminist, and post-colonial studies, I unpack the ways in which decolonial love is constructed and engaged in by young Indigenous and racialized people as they navigate experiences of racism, sexism, cultural assimilation, and other intersecting forms of marginalization inherent in colonial rule. I uphold these diverse perspectives as integral components in developing more nuanced and situated understandings of the power of decolonial love in the everyday lives of Indigenous and racialized young peoples and communities.
Exploring Conceptualizations of Decolonial Love in Settler States
Fire dancers in Southern Thailand, almost exclusively young, intra-/international migrant men from rural Thailand and Myanmar, are paid to entertain tourists at nightly beach parties. An unacknowledged economy fueled largely by tips, fire dancing is fast becoming an iconic symbol of Thailand's young backpacker tourism sector but is not considered an acceptable form of labor or a valued artistic practice, because tourist beach spaces are perceived as sites of immorality, excessive drinking, and sexuality. Male fire dancers, then, come to be known as young social deviants who do not belong in the national imaginary and thus must maneuver around a complex politics of belonging with vast differences in social and economic power. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this article examines how belonging is negotiated among Burmese fire dancers working in Thailand, and how experiences of belonging are shaped by spatialized gendered moralities and masculinities that operate within the fire dancing scene.
Young Men Talking about Place, Community, and Belonging in Manchester
Khawla Badwan and Samantha Wilkinson
Universities are as a means of leaving for the city for young people living increasingly precarious and mobile lives. This article explores how male university students (aged 18–25) talk about, and belong to, the places they inhabit in Greater Manchester, England. Drawing on mixed-methods data collection from survey responses and in-depth semi-structured interviews, this article finds that while young men embrace liquid understandings of place, they express tensions between “insiders” and “outsiders.” While universities appear to be significant places for male university students, only half the participants reported feelings of belonging to university communities. Consequently, this article proposes recommendations for universities, in order to ensure male university students feel they can open up to staff, thereby enabling them to feel part of a “learning community”—a key theme of the National Student Survey.
How Do Young Men Experience “Belong-ing” in Higher Education?
Vicki Trowler, Robert Allan, and Rukhsana Din
There is something of a moral panic about the relative paucity of men in higher education in many countries. Closer examination shows that it is often men from subordinate groups in their contexts, such as working-class men (in the UK context) or African men (in the South African context) who are most underrepresented. This article draws on research in Scotland, South Africa and England to examine the experiences of young men positioned as “nontraditional” in their localized HE contexts who do attend university. Our studies found their experience of “belong-ing” to be mediated by their underrepresentation, as well as constructions of masculinity at system/context or at individual/group level. Understanding the latter can help ameliorate the effects of the former.
Racialized Girlhood, Behavioral Diagnosis, and California's Foster Care System
Isabella C. Restrepo
Scholars of the welfare system have explored the racialized criminalization of mothers of color who are punished by the foster care system, through control of their children, when they are unable to meet the ideals of middle-class motherhood but have yet to fully articulate a language to understand the ways in which this criminalization and punishment extends to youth once they are placed in the foster care system. Using ethnographic interviews with agents of the care system, I explore the ways in which the system pathologizes Latinas’ quotidian acts of resistance and survival like their use of silences through the behavioral diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). I argue that California’s foster care system is an arm of the transcarceral continuum, marking girls of color and their strategies of resistance as pathological, thereby criminalizing them through the diagnosis of behavioral disorders.
Kimihko sîmpân iskwêwisâkaya êkwa sihcikêwin waniskâpicikêwin
Kari Dawn Wuttunee, Jennifer Altenberg, and Sarah Flicker
A small group of Indigenous girls and their allies came together to make ribbon skirts to reclaim teachings, resist gender-based and colonial violence, and re-imagine our collective futures. Based on the personal reflections of the organizers and the girls involved gathered through individual semi-structured interviews and directed journal writing, we share lessons about the process and outcomes. Learning about the historical and cultural significance of ribbon skirts gave these girls a stronger connection to their culture, community, and each other. Wearing their ribbon skirts became an embodied act of resistance to violence in promoting resilience and self-determination. This case study illustrates how Indigenous girls and their allies can engage in resurgence practices to challenge gender-based violence through reclaiming and adapting cultural teachings and practices.
Sandrina de Finney, Patricia Krueger-Henney, and Lena Palacios
We are deeply honored to have been given the opportunity to edit this special issue of Girlhood Studies, given that it is dedicated to rethinking girlhood in the context of the adaptive, always-evolving conditions of white settler regimes. The contributions to this issue address the need to theorize girlhood—and critiques of girlhood—across the shifting forces of subjecthood, community, land, nation, and borders in the Western settler states of North America. As white settler states, Canada and the United States are predicated on the ongoing spatial colonial occupation of Indigenous homelands. In settler states, as Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang remind us, “the settler never left” (2012: 20) and colonial domination is reasserted every day of active occupation. White settler colonialism functions through the continued control of land, resources, and racialized bodies, and is amalgamated through a historical commitment to slavery, genocide, and the extermination of Indigenous nationhood and worldviews. Under settler colonial regimes, criminal justice, education, immigration, and child welfare systems represent overlapping sites of transcarceral power that amplify intersecting racialized, gendered, sexualized, and what Tanja Aho and colleagues call “carceral ableist” violence (2017: 291). This transcarceral power is enacted through institutional and bureaucratic warfare such as, for example, the Indian Act, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the child welfare system to deny, strategically, Indigenous claims to land and the citizenship of racial others.
Renegade Indigenous Stewarding against Gender Genocide
Sandrina de Finney, Shezell-Rae Sam, Chantal Adams, Keenan Andrew, Kathryn McLeod, Amber Lewis, Gabby Lewis, Michaela Louis, and Pawa Haiyupis
“Sisters Rising” is an Indigenous-led research project that centers the gender knowledge of Indigenous youth and communities. In this article, members of “Sisters Rising” build on the notion of kinscapes to propose renegade stewardship as a generative concept through which to consider what kinds of responses are required at the community-scholarly-activist level to disrupt conditions of gender-based and sexual violence and racialized poverty that strip Indigenous bodies of sovereignty, land, and cultural connections while targeting us for genocide. Operating from a multimethod research standpoint that is land- and arts-based, community-rooted, and action-oriented, that engages youth of all genders, and that links body sovereignty to decolonization, this work seeks to build political, theoretical, ceremonial, and interpersonal channels that are crucial to restoring dignity with advocacy for and by Indigenous communities.
Boys, Bathrooms, Hypospadias, and Interphobic Violence
Celeste E. Orr
How sex-segregated bathrooms negatively impact trans, genderqueer, nonbinary, queer, and gender-nonconforming people has been extensively studied, yet few have considered how intersex people are subjected to bathroom violence. To begin broadening this conversation, I focus on the medical management of boys with the intersex variation hypospadias and demonstrate that anxieties around bathrooms extend beyond the bathroom walls—into surgical theaters—and are not simply a trans or queer issue. Anxieties about bathrooms and hegemonic urinary masculine behavior inform the violent medical maltreatment of intersex boys with hypospadias; they are subjected to shaming, disabling, and invasive procedures in the hope they will reinforce compulsory dyadism and able-bodiedness, as well as exhibit hegemonic heteromasculine behaviors, namely standing to urinate. Because of discriminatory, gratuitous surgical interventions, the bathroom and urination become sites of pain and trauma for these boys. In turn, these boys’ sense of masculine belonging are undermined or destroyed.
Realities of Black Girlhood in a Settler State
Kandice A. Sumner
In this article I examine my lived experience as a Black girl in a white settler state using an autoethnographic approach within the framework of critical race and feminist theory to unpack the deleteriousness of existing as a Black female in a white educational settler state. Drawing on my doctoral research, I conclude that greater attention, in terms of theory and praxis as well as compassion, needs to be applied to the educational journeys of Black girls in white settler states, particularly in predominantly white schools.