Gender, race, and science: A feminista analysis of women of color in science

Sara Diaz. “Gender, race, and science: A feminista analysis of women of color in science.” Diss. U of Washington, 2012.

Gender, Race, and Science: A Feminista Analysis of Women of Color in Science is a methodological intervention that expands the boundaries of Feminist Science Studies to include the experiences of women of color scientists and to continue the resistance against persistent racialized gender ideologies within the field. In this dissertation, I propose a revision of the field I call "Feminista Science Studies." In the introduction, I map out a methodology which integrates decolonial historical case study methodology, feminist cultural and spatial studies, and US Third World feminist theories. I then apply my Feminista analytic to three cases. In each case, I use María Lugones' theory of fragmentation, multiplicity, and curdling to analyze the relationship between the socially marked bodies of women of color scientists to the epistemological paradigms in which they worked. The first case, on zoologist Roger Arliner Young (1899-1964), uses intersectionality and queer of color theory to push beyond the single-axis accounts by situating Young's individual experience in the context of the US Eugenics movement and Jim Crow segregation. In the second case, I argue that physicist Chien-Shiung Wu's (1912-1997) research threatened foundational values within Modern Science and, magnified by Cold War era anxieties, her exoticized Asian female body was perceived as disruptive to the militarized space of the nuclear laboratory. In my third case, I use border theory to analyze how Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695) laid claim to the right to produce knowledge about nature, as a woman, by articulating an epistemology of mestizaje. In the conclusion, I make three claims based on these cases: 1) Women of color are positioned in opposition to modern Western science through the association of their bodies with a primitive and wild form of nature in our cultural scientific imaginary. 2) The strategies employed by these women of color for survival and success in science represent a form of oppositional differential consciousness in the service of scientific knowledge production. 3) The epistemological paradigms in which these women operated shape their experience by regulating their ability to conform and resist the social norms of science.

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