Who's afraid of identity politics?

Abstract
This volume is an act of talking back, of talking heresy. To reclaim the term “realism,” to maintain the epistemic significance of identity, to defend any version of identity politics today is to swim upstream of strong academic currents in feminist theory, literary theory, and cultural studies. It is to risk, even to invite, a dismissal as naive, uninformed, theoretically unsophisticated. And it is a risk taken here by people already at risk in the academy, already assumed more often than not to be uninformed and undereducated precisely because of their real identities. Of course, identity is today a growth industry in the academy, across the humanities and social sciences, influencing even law and communication studies. The constitutive power of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and other forms of identity has, finally, suddenly, been recognized as a relevant aspect of almost all projects of inquiry. However, as I shall discuss in this essay, simultaneous to this academic commodification of identity is an increasing tendency to view identity as politically and metaphysically problematic, some have even said pathological. So on the one hand the theoretical relevance of identities has become visible, while on the other hand many theorists are troubled by the implications of the claim that identity makes a difference. Increasingly, then, the attachment to identity has become suspect. If identity has become suspect, identity politics has been prosecuted, tried, and sentenced to death. To espouse identity politics in the academy today risks being viewed as a member of the Flat-Earth Society. Like “essentialism,” identity politics has become the shibboleth of cultural studies and social theory, and denouncing it has become the litmus test of academic respectability, political acceptability, and even a necessity for the very right to be heard. In contrast, there has been a noticeable thaw regarding the term essentialism. What was once perfunctorily denounced at the start of every paper in feminist theory has recently been tentatively examined by a few theorists for possible signs of validity..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 10,075
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

115 ( #7,606 of 1,095,313 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

7 ( #19,761 of 1,095,313 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.