The primacy of narrative agency: Re-reading Seyla Benhabib on narrativity

Feminist Theory 19 (2):123-143 (2018)
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The central claim of this article is that narrative agency, which I will define as a subject’s capacity to make sense of herself as an ‘I’ over time and in relation to other ‘I’s, is a precondition for identity formation. I engage with two critiques of this claim: first, that narrative agency is limited by, rather than primary to, subordinating gender norms and, second, that a view of narrative agency as primary is committed to too ambitious a conception of the communicability of narratives. I argue that the narrative model survives these two criticisms by emphasising its irreducibility, its inherent relationality and its generative potential. I then suggest some of the ways in which a concept of narrative agency might help feminist critical theory to posit mutual recognition and respect as productive criteria for progressive self and social transformation.



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Sarah Lucas
University of Sydney

Citations of this work

Loneliness and appearance: Toward a concept of ontological agency.Sarah Drews Lucas - 2019 - European Journal of Philosophy 27 (3):709-722.

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