Feminist Solidarity Building And Working With Difference: The Case Of The Fiji Women’s Forum

Smolovic Jones, Sanela (2014). Feminist Solidarity Building And Working With Difference: The Case Of The Fiji Women’s Forum. MPhil thesis University of Auckland.

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The primary purpose of this thesis was to explore how it is possible to establish feminist solidarity amongst women who sit on different intersections of identity categories. The research was inspired by the optimism that gaining a deeper insight into solidarity building might enrich development programmes and projects which currently largely rely on legal and economic remedies in the process of instigating a positive social change, such as gender equality. The theoretical framework used draws on the work of Nira Yuval-Davis on ‘Intersectionality and Belonging’. Intersectionality is a theory which seeks to examine the complex interweaving of material positioning and identity work of women (Crenshaw, 1991; Yuval- Davis, 2006 and 2011). On the other hand, belonging, for Yuval-Davis (2011; 2011a) is a means through which scholars and practice groups may dig underneath the basic concept of intersections to understand why and how women may become affiliated with a particular cause and become emotionally attached to that cause. The Fiji Women’s Forum (FWF), which comprises over a hundred members from 26 different organisations, served as the case study for this research. The methodology used in this research is narrative discourse analysis of field interviews and the data was analysed via a three-stage discourse analysis framework designed by Krzyzanowski and Wodak (2008). Intersectionality was found to be a valuable theoretical lens with which to explore the intersectional identifications of FWF participants. Such an approach particularly highlighted the strength of identification women held with a cross-section of identifications other than gender. Nevertheless, such intersectional analysis in itself did not explain the capacity of the women in this study to generate solidarity. Rather, these intersectional identifications were redefined and reframed into what is referred to as ‘discourses of enabling’. These discourses of democracy, learning and safety are important because they are simultaneously rooted in the context of participants’ contextual, intersectional identifications and adapt these identifications into discourses which seem to enable solidarity building.

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