Ms Amrita Dasvarma
Project Officer, YWCA Adelaide, University of Adelaide
Beyond Colonialism: Feminist Futures of Non-Western Women
As a young woman of Indian background actively involved in feminist
campaigns through the nineties, I observed almost dispassionately
the constant and sometimes repetitive intergenerational debates
between seventies feminists icons and today's young feminists,
which unfortunately had been partly diminished to the chiding
of mothers and the icy mutiny of daughters. I felt part of the
debate but not quite, just on the periphery.
Seen but unseen, I wore uncomfortably the clothing of the
younger feminist, but furtively tugged and smoothed the garments.
Having lived one third of my life in Australia, I was almost
immune to the colour, to the Anglo overtones of what I was wearing
which didn't quite match my black hair and brown skin: the outfit
hadn't really been designed with me in mind. Somehow the Anglo
clothes became a standard: add skin colour, add ethnicity, add
cultural background, and suddenly anything not Anglo, any colour
that was not white, was othered. White was neutral, the norm.
This paper will focus on the situation of young migrant women
growing up as part of an ethnic minority in a country such as
Australia, and their daily interactions with Western feminism,
where the roots of feminism are inextricably bound with the roots
of imperialism. Through anecdotal and academic analyses, this
paper will identify how young migrant women must forge their
own feminist identities and feminist futures.
Amrita Dasvarma's longest occupation has been as a student of
law and women's studies. She has also held positions as the President
of her campus Students' Association, Women's Officer for the
National Union of Students, and Australian NGO Coordinator for
the Beijing + 5 UN Conference. She is committed to women's human
rights issues and to good food.
30 min paper