Guest Editors’ Introduction by Wanda Alarcón, Dalida María Benfield, Annie Isabel Fukushima, and Marcelle Maese
Love has to be rethought, made anew.—María Lugones (1987)
We are in good company in our engagement with María Lugones. This special issue arrives soon after the 2019 anthology Speaking Face to Face: The Visionary Philosophy of María Lugones and anticipates more collections gathering various conversations and points of entry into her important decolonial feminist thought.1 We chose Lugones’s 1987 essay “Playfulness, ‘World’-Travelling, and Loving Perception” as the invitation to this conversation because of how it positions love as central to the project of coalition.2 We are so in need of both at the present moment. The importance of making political the loving relation between women of color also echoes Lugones’s early 1983 conversation with Elizabeth Spelman about feminist coalition, “Have We Got a Theory for You! Feminist Theory, Cultural Imperialism, and the Demand for ‘the Woman’s’ Voice.”3 In this innovative essay, Lugones and Spelman write in different voices and in Spanish and English, retaining the textures of their differences, to arrive at a sense of solidarity, even when as they write “[they] could not say we.”4 Lugones and Spelman appeal for a theory-making process in which theory or an account is helpful if among other qualities, “it enables one to see how parts of one’s life fit together”; it allows one to “locate oneself concretely in the world”; and “there is reason to believe that knowing what a theory means and believing it to be true have some connection to resistance and change.”5 Theory and coalition are helpful if they not only comprehend worlds but also remake them. They also affirm friendship, not reducible to sameness nor alienated by differences, as the only viable motive for white or Anglo women to make theory with women of color. As Lugones states: “The [End Page x] only motive that makes sense to me for your joining us in this investigation is the motive of friendship, out of friendship.”6 Without these frameworks of theory, coalition, and friendship, it is difficult if not impossible, to see the politics and the practices of radical women of color writing.
We also structured our call for this special issue with language invoking another movement in Lugones’s writing, “Toward a Decolonial Feminism,” with a desire to think about the concepts of women of color and decolonial feminisms in complex interrelation.7 We take the opportunity here to amplify Lugones’s contribution to decolonial theory. Using the framework of coloniality and decoloniality elaborated by Anibal Quijano and Michael Ennis8 and many other scholars, activists, and artists, Lugones’s critical engagement with the shifting contours of women of color, the coloniality of power and gender, and decolonial feminisms produces new proposals for resistance. In “Hetero-sexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System,” Lugones analyzes the colonial/modern gender system and its imposition of the gender binary and heterosexualism.9 This analysis creates a new field for praxical coalition and reconstructing non-binary subjectivities outside the colonial matrix of power. Lugones also interrogates origin stories and the times and places of our pasts and futures, including a recognition of Indigenous thought and practices that persist in their resistance to coloniality. In tandem, let us also consider as a consequence, Lugones’s different way of thinking of the term “women of color” as one that expands our understanding to include women who are not “backed by a collective memory” of belonging to a legible diaspora within the United States.10 Through this deepening of women of color as a coalitional term, Lugones echoes her earlier appeal to enact what she conceives of as “world”-travelling.
“World”-travelling must not be forgotten in a praxis of decolonial feminisms. It encourages us to drop our enchantment with naturalized ideas about community and offers a pedagogy for learning “an ethics of coalitionin-the making.”11 In “Playfulness, ‘World’-Travelling, and Loving Perception,” Lugones’s loving solution to arrogant perception is accompanied with an exploration…