This article explores the implications of Charles Taylor’s politics of recognition for a global feminist theory. The main contention is that Taylor’s thought implies an innovative dialogue about human rights that assists a flexible understanding of diverse women’s needs. This central claim is developed, however unexpectedly, by focusing on the controversial practice of footbinding. Prevalent in imperial China, this debilitating convention was supported by values that contrast markedly with those of the modern West. The case thus confronts global feminists with the serious issue of comprehending sympathetically the lived concerns of diverse human beings, while reacting critically to the oppression that they may experience. A creative reading of Taylor’s theory here yields, I argue, commitments to two normative claims that I call ‘narrativity’ and ‘instability’. Together, these claims promise not a static form of recognition based on uncontroversial rights to autonomy or bodily integrity but an imaginative dialogue which is sensitive to cultural differences in the interpretation of human needs and critical of culturally diverse forms of oppression. The critique of footbinding implied by Taylor’s thought is finally developed through comparison with contemporary cosmetic surgeries in the West. The study reveals a feminist politics of recognition attuned to subaltern struggles over the meaning of human rights and of women as active participants in this vital, ongoing work.
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DOI 10.1177/1755088214522740
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Truth and Method.H. G. Gadamer - 1975 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 36 (4):487-490.
Liberalism, Community, and Culture.Will Kymlicka - 1989 - Oxford University Press.

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