Centering mana wahine
This thesis analyzes “mana wahine,” an Indigenous feminist epistemology from Aotearoa New Zealand. The aim is to articulate its unique intersectional understanding of white supremacist colonial heteropatriarchy and draw connections to women of color feminism outside of Aotearoa. First, I review tenants of mana wahine that highlight its intersectional perspective and utility for de-colonizing white feminist approaches. The themes I analyze are traditional Māori family structures (whānau), discussions of traditional gender roles, Māori feminist alliances with Māori men (mana tañe), reclamation of cosmological feminist figures, and Māori “herstory”. In the second section, I look at moments where mana wahine thinkers directly engage with women of color feminists abroad. I find commonalities between mana wahine and women of color critiques of white feminism and its analysis of the Western institution of motherhood, white privilege in educational curriculum, and tokenism. This section is not a cross-cultural comparison, but rather draws analytical linkages between the epistemologies’ shared understandings of power. Cross-cultural comparisons often construct a monolithic Other, against which a normative perspective is affirmed and uplifted. Instead, I identify connective tissue between mana wahine and women of color feminism, with attention to difference, to provide a basis for ideological solidarity against white supremacist colonial heteropatriarchy. By examining contemporary feminist thought that is rooted in centuries of analysis of the relationship between European patriarchal systems, settler colonialism and racialized capitalism, this thesis creates transnational analytical linkages that are understudied yet necessary to understanding contemporary relations of power.