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French Women & Feminists in History: A Resource Guide

Colette Guillaumin

L'idéologie raciste. By Colette Guillaumin (La Haye: Mouton, 1972). Library of Congress General Collections.

A contemporary of de Beauvoir and an important French Second Wave feminist philosopher, Colette Guillaumin (1934-2017) made important contributions to both feminist and race theory. Guillaumin began her career studying race theory and the work of Franz Fanon, writing about the ways in which non-white people are discriminated against based on biological characteristics. Following on from her doctoral thesis on racist ideologies (L'Idéologie raciste, genèse et langage actuel or Racist ideology, genesis and current language), Guillaumin continued to expand her research on the mechanisms of power and social relations, making analogies between race and gender as early as the 1970s.

Her work led her to collaborate with other French feminist academics in founding the journal Questions féministes in 1977. Alongside Simone de Beauvoir, Christine Delphy, Emmanuèle de Lesseps, and several others, the journal explored topics of race, gender, sexuality and class in the French context. Guillaumin’s work first appears in the journal in the February 1978, “Pratique du pouvoir et idée de Nature (1) L'appropriation des femmes” and then in May 1978, “Pratique du pouvoir et idée de Nature (2) Le discours de la Nature.” In the two-part article Guillaumin investigates the historical evolution of our ideas about race and gender, using materialist and naturalist philosophy to show that the experience of social relationships and mental conventions must be intertwined with semiotic systems. In applying race theory and structures of domination to the social relations of gender, Guillaumin provided an early intersectional theory of race and gender, one of the first academics to do so in France. Guillaumin continued to be active in feminist and anti-racist circles until her death in 2017.

For digitized sources on women of this time period see Digitized Sources:Feminism in the 20th Century.

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Guillaumin, Colette

Print & Digital Resources

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