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Lugones is interested in theorizing various forms of resistance against multiple oppressions. She is known for her theory of multiple selves, her work on decolonial feminism, and for developing the concept of the "coloniality of gender," which posits that gender is a colonial imposition.
Lugones is the author of Pilgrimage/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition Against Multiple Oppressions (2003) a seminal, highly-praised collection of essays, many of which were originally published in Hypatia, Signs and other journals. Among the essays included are "Playfulness, 'World'-Travelling, and Loving Perception," which addresses the experience of navigating hyphenated identities from a phenomenological perspective. Lugones posits "a plurality of selves" that literally shift from being one person to being a different person, with each shift produce a corresponding new world. In another essay, "Purity, Impurity, and Separation," Lugones introduces the concept of curdling as an intersectional practice of resistance that works against an oppressive logic of purity. Examples of curdling include: code-switching, drag, gender transgression and multilingual experimentation.
In her later work, "Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System" (2007) and "Toward a Decolonial Feminism" (2010), Lugones turns her attention to coloniality: its impact on gender formation, as well as various strategies of resistance which could contribute toward its eventual dismantling. Combining Anibal Quijano's theory of the coloniality of power with a feminist, intersectionalist framework, Lugones concludes that gender is a colonial imposition. Drawing on historical examples of pre-colonial, gynecratic Native American tribes, Lugones situates gender as a colonial classification system that divides and subjugates people differently depending on multiple intersectional factors including class and ethnicity.
Some of Lugones's published work includes:
Heterosexualism in the Colonial/modern Gender system - Hypatia vol 22 no 1 (winter 2007)
Problems of translation in Postcolonial Thinking - Anthropology News. April 2003. With Joshua Price.
The Inseparability of race, class, and gender - Latino Studies Journal. Vol. I #1, Fall 2003. With Joshua Price.
Strategies of the Chicana Lesbian - edited by Ma. Louise Keating (forthcoming).
Peregrinajes/Pilgrimages: Theorizing Coalition Against Multiple Oppressions - New York: Rowman & Littlefield Press, 2003.
Impure Communities - in Diversity and Community: An Interdisciplinary Reader, edited by Philip Anderson. 2002. Oxford: Blackwell.
On Maria Pia Lara's Moral Structures - Hypatia, Fall 2000.
Wicked Caló: A Matter of the Authority of Improper Words - In Feminist Interpretations of Mary Daly. Edited by Marilyn Frye and Sarah Lucia Hoagland. Penn State University Press, 2000.
Tenuous Connections in Impure Communities - Journal of Environmental Ethics, 1999.
The Discontinuous Passing of the Cachapera/Tortillera from the barrio to the bar to the Movement - In Daring To Be Good: Feminist Essays in Ethico-Politics. Edited by Ami Bar-On and Aim Ferguson. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Motion, Stasis, and Resistance to Interlocked Oppressions - In Making Worlds: Gender, Metaphor, Materiality. Edited by Susan Hardy Aiken, et al. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press. 1998.
Enticements and Dangers of Community for a Radical Politics - In Blackwell Companion to Feminist Philosophy. Edited by Iris Young and Alison Jaggar. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.
Hard to Handle Anger - In Overcoming Racism and Sexism. Rowman & Littlefield, 1996.
Colonialidad y género - Tabula Rasa. Bogotá - Colombia, No.9: 73-101, julio-diciembre 2008