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Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 March 2020


The coloniality of power is understood by Anibal Quijano as at the constituting crux of the global capitalist system of power. What is characteristic of global, Eurocentered, capitalist power is that it is organized around two axes that Quijano terms “the coloniality of power” and “modernity.” The coloniality of power introduces the basic and universal social classification of the population of the planet in terms of the idea of race, a replacing of relations of superiority and inferiority established through domination with naturalized understandings of inferiority and superiority. In this essay, Lugones introduces a systemic understanding of gender constituted by colonial/modernity in terms of multiple relations of power. This gender system has a light and a dark side that depict relations, and beings in relation as deeply different and thus as calling for very different patterns of violent abuse. Lugones argues that gender itself is a colonial introduction, a violent introduction consistently and contemporarily used to destroy peoples, cosmologies, and communities as the building ground of the “civilized” West.

Research Article
Copyright © 2007 by Hypatia, Inc.

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