Research Workshop: "Decolonial Feminism’s “Dynamic” View of Disorientation"

Dr. Tiffany Tsantsoulas (CSU Bakersfield)

Friday, April 14th, 2023 (12:10-2:00 PM) Erhart Agriculture 10-125


The notion that disorientation is defined by feelings of incapability is present in most philosophical accounts of the concept. Its prevalence may stem from Merleau-Ponty’s discussion of disorientation as a temporary disturbance of the body-subject’s normal state of being- toward-the-world in Phenomenology of Perception, but it is also found in more recent feminist descriptions of disorienting experiences brought on by living life under cisheteropatriarchy. In this presentation, I trace another thread in contemporary understandings of disorientation, one rooted in decolonial feminist phenomenology. This thread continues the feminist project of centering marginalized lived experience and yet differs in its reading of the character and effects of disorientation to accommodate the ambiguous power relationships of decolonial subjectivity. To that end, I turn to Sara Ahmed’s discussion of queer affective refusal and María Lugones’ account of existential liminality to distinguish a concept of “dynamic disorientation” defined by at least two key features: critical liminality and resistant creativity. I argue that dynamic disorientation is a radically transformative and enabling experience. One that is accessible to those who are never at-home within, or rendered capable by, social worlds structured by coloniality, viz. racist, sexist, transphobic, and ableist hierarchies of value and power.   

Dr. Tsantsoulas is an assistant professor of philosophy at California State University, Bakersfield. Her current research develops decolonial feminist approaches to phenomenologies of resistance.

Related Content