Multiplicity in Identity: Beyond the Metaphysics of Substance

Dissertation, Michigan State University (2000)

Crista Lebens
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Any theory incorporating 'identity' as a central concept must respond to the criticisms of identity posed by postmodernists. For feminist theorists, the most complete articulation of such criticisms has been developed by Judith Butler. Butler focuses on gender identity at the level of subjectivity, how the individual is constructed as a gendered being. The conception of subjectivity Butler criticizes is one that legitimates the social order by masking the power dynamics involved in the construction of subjects. ;In this dissertation, I argue that the construction of subjectivity developed by Maria Lugones engages the criticisms of identity raised by Judith Butler. Furthermore, mestiza, or multiplicitous subjectivity, on Lugones' account, can be the basis for political action. To illustrate this, I analyze the construction of gender identity and racial identity. Finally, I show that mestiza subjectivity as a ground for politics, provides a means for constructing a sustained coalitional identity politics
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