Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

On Temporary and Contextual Dis/Empowerment

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I’m writing this blogpost to ask if there already exist terms for what I’m trying to convey here. I am think of this. Being empowered or oppressed is sometimes a temporary thing in a particular context. It can be transient, whereas other types of oppression are more generic, ongoing, permanent. This builds on intersectionality obviously and also on postructuralism of seeing those different angles at once. Here is what I am looking at

  1. A white male student while a student, is disempowered in their role as a student vs their professors in that microcontext. But in general they have a lot of power outside their context. This is a temporal disempowerment; once they graduate, this power dynamic is over
  2. Egyptian Christians are a minority in Egypt but if they immigrate to the US, they will be a religious majority, in general terms, but immigrants nonetheless and depending on skin color, POC. Their oppression is locational, but also transitions from one of religious minority to something else
  3. Race and gender *tend* to be more permanent/ongoing oppressions in most societies but the magnitude is very different depending on context. E.g. slavery history of US vs apartheid in South Africa vs just preference for lighter skin in Egypt and Sudan.

So I am asking if there are terms for these persistent vs transient or temporary or contextual oppressions? I think it’s important because it nuances how we discuss these things… and how we prioritize our activism in context.

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