Professor’s book launch invites dialogue about feminist theory and politics among Latin Americans

A gender and women’s studies professor at CSUN said theory is easier to write about than to talk about.

The Chicana/o Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies departments hosted Dr. Breny Mendoza’s, “Critical Feminist Essays in Our America” book launch, along with a panel discussion on Monday.

Mendoza, gender women’s studies professor at CSUN, selected 15 years worth of essays to be included in her book about Latin American feminism.

The purpose of the essays was, “to give some foundational elements of a Latin American feminist theory from a decolonial perspective,“ said Mendoza.

During the first half of the book launch event, Mendoza discussed the various topics included in her book.

The book contains an essay on the analysis of geopolitics of knowledge in terms of political science and gender studies in Latin America, liberal democracy, the beginning of the feminist movement and dictatorships in Latin American countries, the neoliberal era, and the shift to the left in politics.

Mendoza, who has been active in the Latina feminist movement for over a decade, said she dedicated the book to Latina feminist.

Most of the book was written during Mendoza’s current time at CSUN. However, she said she started writing during the ’90s, before her time at CSUN.

The idea came because, “we needed a political theory in Latin America that was more located in our history, right in our coloniality,” Mendoza said.

During the second half of the event, three panelists joined Mendoza: Dr. Susan Fitzpatrick from the department of History, Dr. Ramón García from department of Chicana/o Studies, and Professor Jóse Miguel Paez from department of Social Work.

The panel discussed topics from the book, such as the colonization and decolonization of the mind, and later answered questions from the audience.

Audience members included students and faculty from various departments, particularly from Gender and Women Studies and Chicana/o Studies departments.

Alejandro Castro, 22, a sociology major and gender and women’s studies minor student, said he found the event interesting, “especially to learn about the decolonization [at this event] because I never thought about the decolonization of the mind.”

Castro said the event made him think about, “how we are taught this… perspective from the Anglo side, but we never learn from other perspectives of the indigenous or Latin American perspective.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Tania Soto, a Chicano studies and political science double major, was drawn to attend the event because of her career goals.

“I want to work with politics. I want to work with the Chicano community, and focus on women especially,” Soto said. “[Mendoza] is talking about the feminist movement in Latin America, which is one of my focuses.”

“Critical Feminist Essays in Our America” is written in Spanish, although Mendoza said that 40 percent of the essays have been published in English in various feminist journals. She said if the book does well she will consider publishing the book in English.