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Visited Luke Moldof’s gig which is a part of the Pennies From Heaven #4 series organized by the Control (store) and Bánh Mì Verlag. We were taken on a sonic journey. Transitions between scenes were fluid. The trip highlighted at 4th July fireworks, the noisyness of which was pulled to sonic focus. The gig started with a horse eating / stable ambient sample.

Gender as Colonial Object – The spread of Western gender categories through European colonization (2018) Lucas Ballestín. A good follow up to last Sundays reading group discussions.

To appreciate the extent to which gender can be construed as a colonial object, it’s necessary to first understand just what a colonial object is. I understand colonial objects neither as ‘artifacts produced by indigenous peoples,’ nor as ‘artifacts that get taken up as emblematic of a particular (foreign, fetishized) way of life.’ Rather, by colonial objects I understand objects that are imbedded, (re-) produced, and circulated within a concrete colonial practice.

In fact, [Oyèrónkẹ́] Oyěwùmí’s primary claim is that “gender was not an organizing principle in Yoruba society prior to colonization by the West,” but that the systematic institutionalization of gender was itself a colonial development. There are two aspects of Oyěwùmí’s approach that serve [Maria] Lugones especially well, and which illustrate my own claim about considering gender itself as a colonial object. The first is the pre-colonial Yoruba gender system, and the second is the juridical and political changes introduced by the colonists during their ‘settlement’ of the region.

The Yoruba pantheon, which was traditionally non-gendered, increasingly became so, with the most traditional Western associations about power and wickedness being dragged into the picture. […] At the same time, even as the Yoruba as a whole were subordinated to the British, the British saw it fit to allow for a degree of participation in the affairs of public life (in the form of State minor posts or charges) for Yoruba men, but not for women.

Marriage law was modified to agree with the European Christian model, in effect annulling local traditions of polygamy other arrangements. “In other words,” writes Oyěwùmí, “regardless of qualifications, merit, or seniority, women were to be subordinated to men in all situations.”

Works by Paula Gunn Allen and Michael J. Horswell catalogue the variety of possibilities for gender identity and social gender roles throughout a large number of originary peoples both in North and South America. Perhaps most prominent among these variations is the recurrent ‘third gender’ space. The idea here was that, in addition to two binary gender/sex poles, many Native American cultures featured an intermediary gender that broke up the binary, not by presenting a gender/sex triad, but by having this third gender express the spectrum of mediate positions between the two ‘poles’.

When we make the claim that gender is colonial, we don’t mean to say that gender was altogether absent prior colonization (although Oyěwùmí does want to make such a claim with regard to the Yoruba), but rather that the gender systems were also an object of colonization, and that colonization as a historical process also involved the modification of the specific indigenous gender arrangements of the regions it affected. 

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