Notes for Project:

Methodology of the Oppressed by Chela Sandoval (2000)

In this important work, Sandoval relies on Roland Barthes and Frantz Fanon to construct an oppositional consciousness and a rhetoric of resistance guided by democratics– a practioner’s commitment to the equal disturibution of power– for effectively countering neo-colonizing postmodern global hegemonies (2.1) Sandoval identifies four theories and methods of oppositional consciousness use by feminists in the past, which she argues have been used ineffectively and have only lead to hegemonic feminist theories: equal rights, revolutionary, supremacist, separatist. She proposes a fifth theory, a differential mode, which rescues the previous four from their hegemonic tendencies and creates a more effective oppositional consciousness and social movement. Sandoval also unlocks a methodology of the oppressed from Barthes and Fanon’s rhetorics of supremacy, which transforms into a methodology of liberation, comprised of five skills: semiotics, deconstruction, meta-ideologizing, democratics, and differential consciousness (2.2). Rescuing Barthes work from theory without action, Sandoval explains that these tactics and skills form a hermeneutics of love, “a set of practices and procedures that can transit all citizen-subjects, regardless of social class, toward a differential mode of consciousness and its accompanying technologies of method and social movement” which act as resistance to dominant forces (140). She concludes with a forceful, passionate explanation that “love as a social movement is enacted by revolutionary, mobile, and global coalitions of citizen-activists who are allied through the apparatus of emancipation” (182.4).

Drawing on Althusser’s theory of “ideology and ideological state apparatuses”—ideological imperialism–, Sandoval extends his theory by “identifying forms of ideology in opposition that can be generated and coordinated by those classes self-consciously seeking affective liberatory stances in relation to the dominant social order. The idea here, that the citizen subject can learn to identify, develop, and control the means of ideology, that is, marshal the knowledge necessary to “break with ideology” while at the same time also speaking in, and from within, ideology, is an idea that lays the philosophical foundations enabling us to make the vital connections between the seemingly disparate social and political aims that drive, yet ultimately divide, social movements from within” (44.4).

Third Wave feminism brings to light the five principal categories around which oppositional consciousness is organized, and which were thought to be politically effective means for transforming dominant power relations under capitalistic production (44.4). They are:

EQUAL RIGHTS: Practioners demand their humanity be legitimated, recoginized as the same under the law, and assimilated into the most favored form of the human-in-power. This mode of oppositional consciousness is known within hegemonic feminist theories as “liberal feminism”=women are same as men=1st phase feminism. (56.6)

THE REVOLUTIONARY FORM: Practioners believe that the assimilation of such myriad and acute differences is not possible within the confines of the present social order. Instead, they reason, the only way a society can affirm, value, and legitimate these differences will be if the categories by which the dominant is ordered are fundamentally restructured. This mode of oppositional consciousness is know within hegemonic feminist theories as “Marxist feminism”=women are different than men=2nd phase feminism (55.6).

THE SUPREMACIST FORM: Practioners believe that oppressed are not only different but also that their differences have provided them access to a higher evolutionary level than that attained by those who hold social power. These practioners, which think they operate at higher state of psychic and social evolution than their counterparts, aim to provide the social order a higher ethical and moral vision, and consequently more effective leadership. This mode of oppositional consciousness is known within hegemonic feminist theories as “cultural” or “radical” feminism=women are superior=3rd wave feminism (56.7).

THE SEPARATIST FORM: Practitioners believe that in order to protect their difference, complete separation from dominant social order must be enacted for political resistance. This mode of oppositional consciousness is known within hegemonic feminist theories as “socialist” feminism = women are racially divided class **Not sure about this. Check it.

This fifth mode lifts previous four out of hegemony. This mode, which is differential, enables movement “between and among” ideological positionings mentioned above. It depends on practioners’ ability to read the current situation of power and self-consciously choosing and adopting the ideological stand best suited to push against its configurations, a survival skill well known to oppressed peoples. Requires “outsider/within” identity that guides movment of being according to an ethical commitment to equalize power between social constituencies” (60-60.1). Requires strength to commit to well defined structure of identity, flexibility to self-consciously transform that identity according to requisites of another oppositional ideological tactic if readings of power’s transformation require it, and grace to recognize alliance with others committed to egalitarian social relations and race, gender, sex, class, and social justice, when these and other readings of power call for alternative oppositional stands (60).

Together these make up a rhetoric of oppositional consciousness and social movement.

Social actors committed to egalitarian social relations, who are seeking the basis for a shared vision, an oppositional and coalitional politics, and who seek new inner and social technologies that will ensure that resistant activity not simply replicate the political formations that are linked to transnational cultural expansion, must self-consciously recognize, develop, and harness a dissident globalization, a methodology of the oppressed, which is composed of the technologies that make possible differential social movement (72.2).

METHODOLOGIES OF THE OPPRESSED: (also called technologies)

SEMIOLOGY: reading signs of power/ideological discourse. Semiotic perception of objects-in-culture as signs of power to be taken in , read, and interpreted

MYTHOLOGY: deconstruction of those dominant ideological sign-systems. Decolonizing mode of consumption.

META-IDEOLOGIZING: radical process in which new “higher” levels of signification are built onto older, dominant forms of ideology. Ideologization of ideology itself. Reveals, transforms, or disempowers ideology.

DIFFERENTIAL MOVEMENT: flexibility of consciousness necessary to meta-ideologize or in other words move into and through the forms and meanings of signification in a systematic excavation that leads the consuming consciousness away from a sense of meaning-as-nature, toward the connections of meaning to history…or to something else, which interrupt the turnstile of form and meaning of dominant oppressive ideology (104.4 and 112.4). Necessary for semiology and mythology and meta-ideologizing to occur.

DEMOCRATICS: guiding strategy that is interested in challenging the institutionalization of dominant ideology, and the forms of social and psychological inequity it naturalizes. Drives methodology of the oppressed. It is the moral and ethical commitment to enact any of its technologies with the aim of equalizing power between humans.


RHETORICS OF SUPREMACY: rhetorics used by dominant class to spread and maintain dominant ideology. Encouraged development of authoritarianism, domination, supremacism in its practioners. This rhetoric constructs seemingly innocuous forms of personal and everyday life—of subjectivity, of citizenship itself. This rhetoric animates the great ideological perversions, especially those that invite citizen-subjects to faultlessly consume ideology, and to guilelessly reproduce “depoliticized” and supremacist forms of speech, consciousness, morality, values, law, family life, and personal relations” (118.8). All work to erase differences.

INOCULATION: provides cautious injections—in modest doses only—of dissimilarity. Outcome is that by incorporating small, tidy portion of difference, the good citizen-subject does not have to accept its depth or enormity, and thus can remain as is. Difference is controlled/tolerated.

PRIVATION OF HISTORY: distancing all objects of culture from the material history of what has made them what they are, an estrangement that deprives (Western) consciousness of any responsibility for what has and will become. This rhetoric colonizes the colonizer’s consciousness as well. Enables colonizers to possess any new object from which all soiling trace of origin and choice has been removed (120- 120.1)

IDENTIFICATION: consciousness draws itself up, comforts itself, and identifies itself through a comparing and weighing operation that seeks to equate all differences with itself—the better to either brush differences aside as unimportant or to assimilate them. In extreme form is exoticism, where difference is safely relegated to limits of humanity and can’t be a threat.

TAUTOLOGY: reasoning that enable citizen-subjetcts to believe that Western knowledge can be understood and justified as such. Operates behind a badge of authority, where its rationality is hidden (122.2)

NEITHER-NORISM: enables the citizen-subject to develop an idependent “neutrality” or “objectivity” in behavior.

Etc. see book!!!!!!!!!


1 Comment

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One response to “Notes for Project:

  1. And you were surprised when I called you a nerd the other day?

    Welcome, friend, welcome…. (and -PS – BE PROUD! I don’t call just anyone a nerd these days….)

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