Returning the Gaze: Essays on Racism, Feminism & Politics // Review

By Bannerji, Himani | Herizons, Spring 1994 | Go to article overview

Returning the Gaze: Essays on Racism, Feminism & Politics // Review


Bannerji, Himani, Herizons


RETURNING THE GAZE: ESSAYS ON RACISM, FEMINISM AND POLITICS.

HIMANI BANNERJI, EDITOR

SISTER VISION PRESS 1993

"It is from the theorized experience of the most oppressed...that the possibility of most knowledge arises," says the editor in her introduction. "The social relations which structure her locality and her experience hold clues to the entire society's organization. Bannerji has collected twelve essays by non-white women who prove her point. Radical and sometimes shocking, Returning the Gaze is a brilliant and convincing analysis of Canadian culture and politics.

Each author seems to follow the method of May Yee, "to write as honestly as we can, from the heart, to drive at the heart of a system which is indeed killing us, to expose the truth as we live it, to expose the lie of this capitalist ideology of liberal democracy." At times I found myself laughing out loud with the pure delight of hearing truths which few Canadians have the nerve to voice.

The authors demonstrate a commitment to listening, honesty, and self-examination. Anita Sheth and Amita Handa, for instance, record a lengthy dialogue through which they begin to understand the politics of listening -- not just in theory, but in practice. Sherene Razack calls for self-questioning and "ethical guidelines for listening." Aruna Srivastava says, "I myself must be the first to criticize, question, shift my positions."

It is this commitment to listening and self-examination which Lee Maracle recommends as one way to start eradicating racism, particularly between women. White feminists, she says, need to consciously test their motives at all times, to question their actions and test their attitudes. "What happens when you point the finger at someone else as the cause and perpetrator of discord? …

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