Citation and Subjectivity: Towards a Return of the Embodied Will

Body and Society 5 (2-3):209-225 (1999)
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Freudian and phenomenological approaches to subjectivity allow the existence of a residual core self. Recent work within cultural analysis and sociology has rejected such a residue. The writings of Judith Butler and Pierre Bourdieu are two cases in point. In the former case, this refusal functions to provide the possibility of reconstructable gendered identities. For Bourdieu, it confirms the primacy of the social. In both cases, the refusal is part of a case made against psychological essentialism. However, the campaign against essentialism may not be served by the rejection of all aspects of the autonomous embodied self. As a test of the implications of this self-denial, an examination is made of the shift in transsexual discourse from the early culture of dissimulation to current trends of openness and the transcendence of dichotomous models of gender. It is shown that the model of citation found in the work of Judith Butler works poorly in the early stage, but works well in the later culture if stripped of its contingent association with dissimulation. The culture of open citation is shown to be dependent upon external certitudes which duplicate, in potentially stronger terms, the very essentialism which the rejection of residual selfhood was first meant to defeat.



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