Decolonizing Universalism argues that feminism can respect cultural and religious differences and acknowledge the legacy of imperialism without surrendering its core ethical commitments. Transcending relativism/ universalism debates that reduce feminism to a Western notion, Serene J. Khader proposes a feminist vision that is sensitive to postcolonial and antiracist concerns. Khader criticizes the false universalism of what she calls 'Enlightenment
liberalism,' a worldview according to which the West is the one true exemplar of gender justice and moral progress is best achieved through economic independence and the abandonment of tradition. She argues that anti-imperialist feminists must rediscover the normative core of feminism and rethink the role of moral
ideals in transnational feminist praxis. What emerges is a nonideal universalism that rejects missionary feminisms that treat Western intervention and the spread of Enlightenment liberalism as the path to global gender injustice.
The book draws on evidence from transnational women's movements and development practice in addition to arguments from political philosophy and postcolonial and decolonial theory, offering a rich moral vision for twenty-first century feminism.
Serene J. Khader is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and Jay Newman Chair in Philosophy of Culture at Brooklyn College. She is the also the author of Adaptive Preferences and Women's Empowerment and co-editor, with Ann Garry and Alison Stone, of The Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy.