Publication Details

Lyons, L.T. (2000). Disrupting the center: interrogating an ‘Asian feminist’ identity. Communal/Plural: Journal of Transnational and Crosscultural Studies, 8 (1), 65-79.


The problem of ‘difference’ has emerged as a significant issue in western feminist theory making during the past two decades. In response to claims that mainstream feminism has ignored the lives and voices of third world women and women of colour, attention has increasingly been placed on the ways in which class and ‘race’ intersect in the everyday lived experiences of women. This work has sought to displace the hegemonic control of white, western women in the production of feminist knowledge. Despite a growing body of literature on women’s movements throughout the Asian region, however, common-sense perceptions of Asian ‘submissiveness’ and ‘coercion’ continue to dominate dialogues between Australian and Asian women. Through an examination of a women’s rights organisation in Singapore, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), this paper calls into question dominant assumptions about ‘Asian feminism’. By examining the numerous ways in which feminism is contested I argue that to view Singaporean women’s choices within a model of tradition/modernity or Asian/Western values sets up a false dichotomy of choice that only serves to reinforce the centre-periphery model of western and Other feminisms.



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