ReInterpreting Liberation: Decolonial Feminist Futures

Fall Open
Class Standing
Savvina Chowdhury
Alice Nelson
Therese Saliba

For centuries, shouts of liberation have echoed through the streets, from Kolkata, India, to Santiago, Chile. Today, new movements are afoot, inviting us to revisit the question, "What does liberation mean in the cultural, historical, political, and economic context of the global South?" In the aftermath of World War II, the Third World movements that arose in resistance to colonial domination also attempted to reconceptualize an alternative, anti-imperialist and anti-racist world view. While gaining some measure of political independence, nations such as India, Egypt, Algeria, Mexico and Chile found that they remained enmeshed in neocolonial relations of exploitation vis-à-vis the global North. Their post-colonial experience with nation-building bears witness to the reality that political liberation remains inseparable from economic independence. Moreover, women who contributed to the success of Third World revolutions argued that the broader struggle for national sovereignty and class equality was incomplete without women’s liberation.

Through the disciplinary lenses of literature, cultural studies, political economy, and feminist theory, this program will explore how various ideas of liberation have emerged and expanded over time, in the contexts of Latin America, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.  We will look at feminist resistance movements in each of these contexts, as well as the role of U.S. foreign and economic policy in suppressing liberatory movements. We will explore how religious, national, gender, ethnic, and cultural identities shape narratives of liberation, often in resistance to (neo)colonialist discourses and deep structural inequalities, through authors and films that seek to tell another story, re-interpreting liberation.

In fall, we will explore several historical models of liberation and critique dominant representations of Third World nations. We will focus especially on India's path to independence, the Algerian and Cuban revolutions, Egypt/Arab Nationalism, and the Chilean Road to Socialism. In winter, we will move forward chronologically, and our cases will include several of the following: Chile under Pinochet and the rise of neoliberalism, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, opposition to U.S.-led post 9/11 wars, the Arab Spring, Indigenous movements for “land-back” against extractivism, anti-colonial movements among the Black diaspora, feminist and queer resistance to emerging neo-fascist regimes, as well as growing calls for reparations, abolition, and decolonization against centuries of global white supremacy.

Students may enroll for 16, 12 or 4 credits. Students enrolled for 16 credits may either take a 4-credit Advanced Intermediate/ Advanced Spanish module with Alice Nelson or work on a Media Watch project assignment in fall and deepen their political economy skills in winter. Those enrolled for 12 credits will not engage in these projects or modules. Students may choose to take only the 4-credit Advance Intermediate/Advanced Spanish module (signature required).  

A cohort of first-year students in Introduction to Liberation Movements of the Global South (taught by Therese Saliba) will be joining many of our lectures, films, and some workshop sessions, and Therese will be providing lectures and content material to our program.  There will also be opportunities for advanced students to mentor first-year students, as we build a learning community based on mutual support, shared inquiry, and decolonial feminist pedagogy. 


Course Reference Numbers
So - Sr (16): 20149
So - Sr (12): 20150
So - Sr (4): 20151

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (4): 10060
So - Sr (16): 10097
So - Sr (12): 10098

Academic Details

Education, history, international studies, community advocacy, politics, writing, and human and social services.


$150 in fall quarter for overnight field trip, $75 in winter for cultural meal/entrance fee.


In Person (F)
In Person (W)

See definition of Hybrid, Remote, and In-Person instruction

Schedule Details
SEM 2 E3107 - Seminar


Date Revision
2023-12-08 Was FWS, now just FW.