Feminists Theorize the Political

Routledge (1992)
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Abstract

The use of "theory" in feminist analysis has been said to threaten feminism as a political force. This collection of work by leading feminist scholars engages with the question of the political status of poststructuralism theory within feminism. Against the view that the use of post-structuralism necessarily weakens feminism, 'Feminists Theorize the Political' affirms the contemporary debate over theory as politically rich and consequential. In laying the theoretical groundwork for the volume, Butler and Scott posed a number of questions to prominent legal scholars, literary critics, philosophers, political theorists, historians, and cultural theorists. The essays do not settle the questions but generate new and productive directions for them. The volume as a whole valorizes the unsettling power and politics of theory. The essays in 'Feminists Theorize the Political' speak to the questions that emerge from the convergence of feminism and poststructuralism: What happens to feminist critique when traditional foundations--experience, history, universal norms--are called into question? Can feminist theory problematize the notion of the subject without losing its political effectivity? Which version of the subject is to questioned, and how does that questioning open up possibilities for reformulating agency, power, and sites of political resistance? What are the consequences of a specifically feminist reformulation of difference? What are the uses and limits of a poststructuralist critique of binary logic for the theorization of racial and class differences, the position of the subaltern? This anthology represents a diverse array of theoretical work within feminist theory with strong political stakes. Although not all of the authors subscribe to poststructuralism, (and few would concede post-structuralism is a monolithic enterprise), each offers an innovative feminist analysis that is in some way motivated in and by the poststructuralist challenge. 'Feminists Theorize The Political' addresses a range of feminist concerns, including productive freedom, anti-discrimination law, rape, and formulating power in terms of exclusion, difference and hierarchy.

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Judith Butler
University of California, Berkeley

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