Feministtheory is a central strand of cultural studies. This book explores the history of feminist cultural studies from the early work of Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, through the 1970s Women's Liberation Movement. It also provides a comprehensive introduction to the contemporary key approaches, theories and debates of feministtheory within cultural studies, offering a major re-mapping of the field. It will be an essential text for students taking courses (...) within both cultural studies and women's studies departments. (shrink)
Contemporary feministtheory is at an impasse: the project of reformulating concepts of self and social identity is thwarted by an association between identity and oppression and victimhood. In Sacrificial Logics, Allison Weir proposes a way out of this impasse through a concept of identity which depends on accepting difference. Weir argues that the equation of identity with repression and domination links "relational" feminists like Nancy Chodorow, who equate self-identity with the repression of connection to others, and poststructuralist (...) feminists like Judith Butler, who view any identity as a repression of nonidentity and difference. Through readings of Chodorow, Butler, Jessica Benjamin, Luce Irigaray, Jacqueline Rose and Julia Kristeva, Weir analyzes the relation of theories of self-identity to theories of women's identity, social identity, the identity of meaning in language and feminist solidarity. Drawing particularly on the work of Julia Kristeva, she argues for a reformulation of self-identity as a capacity to participate in a social world, and sketches a model of a self-identity which depends on a capacity to accept nonidentity, difference and connections to others. (shrink)
This book evaluates the major debates around which the discipline of international relations has developed in the light of contemporary feminist theories. The three debates (realist versus idealist, scientific versus traditional, modernist versus postmodernist) have been subject to feminist theorising since the earliest days of known feminist activities, with the current emphasis on feminist, empiricist standpoint and postmodernist ways of knowing. Christine Sylvester shows how feminist theorising could have affected our understanding of international relations had (...) it been included in the three debates. She elaborates a feminist method of empathetically cooperative conversation which challenges the identity politics of IR, and illustrates that method with reference to the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp and the efforts of Zimbabwean women to negotiate international funding for their local producer cooperatives. (shrink)
This authoritative and lively exploration of the theories of contemporary feminism covers all the major variants of feminist political thought from the "traditional" schools of the women's movement-particularly radical, liberal, and socialist-to today's postmodern texts. FeministTheory Today examines the epistemological challenge from critical legal theory and postmodernist thought; the divergences within, as well as between, feminist schools; and the protests from women marginalized by the feminist movement, including those who are lesbian and those (...) who are black. It also interrogates the dialectic equality and difference and reconceptualizes this pervasive tenet of feminist thought. Author Judith Evans documents the changes in socialist feminism from its revolutionary origins to its current focus on modifying liberal democratic forms. Students and teachers of women's studies, sociology, and political theory will find this an authoritative and lively exploration of the theories of contemporary feminism. It is also essential reading for anyone seeking to understand why the women's movement is as it is today. (shrink)
Power is clearly a crucial concept for feministtheory. Insofar as feminists are interested in analyzing power, it is because they have an interest in understanding, critiquing, and ultimately challenging the multiple array of unjust power relations affecting women in contemporary Western societies, including sexism, racism, heterosexism, and class oppression. In "The Power of FeministTheory," Amy Allen diagnoses the inadequacies of previous feminist conceptions of power, and draws on the work of a diverse group (...) of theorists of power, including Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Hannah Arendt, in order to construct a new feminist conception of power. The conception of power developed in this book enables readers to theorize domination, resistance, and solidarity, and, perhaps more importantly, to do so in a way that illuminates the interrelatedness of these three modalities of power. (shrink)
: Although a rich tradition of feminist critiques of science exists, it is often difficult for feminists who are scientists to bridge these critiques with practical transformations in scientific knowledge production. In this paper, I go beyond the general bases of feminist critiques of science by using feministtheory in science to illustrate how a practical transformation in methodology can change molecular biology based research in the reproductive sciences.
We need a feministtheory of disability, both because 16 percent of women are disabled, and because the oppression of disabled people is closely linked to the cultural oppression of the body. Disability is not a biological given; like gender, it is socially constructed from biologically reality. Our culture idealizes the body and demands that we control it. Thus, although most people will be disabled at some time in their lives, the disabled are made "the other," who symbolize (...) failure of control and the threat of pain, limitation, dependency, and death. If disabled people and their knowledge were fully integrated into society, everyone's relation to her/his real body would be liberated. (shrink)
This article explores some of the most significant questions in feminist epistemology: how do academics demarcate what constitutes ‘proper’ academic knowledge? And to what extent is feministtheory and research recognised as such? I draw on material from an ethnographic study of academia in Portugal to examine the claims that non-feminist scholars make in classrooms and conferences about the epistemic status of feminist scholarship. I observed that feminist work was very commonly described as capable (...) of generating credible and valuable knowledge, but only in some instances and in limited ways. I present examples of these adversative claims and analyse their structure, content and uses of caricature and humour, showing how epistemic boundaries are drawn in them and how feminist scholarship is positioned in relation to those boundaries. I argue that this boundary-work produces a representation of feminist scholarship as being located partly within, and partly outside, the realm of proper knowledge, a move which I designate as an epistemic splitting of that scholarship. I suggest that this splitting enables and legitimates a selective engagement with feminist work, because it provides non-feminist scholars with a recognised epistemological rationale for taking into account the feminist insights which broadly fit mainstream frameworks, while simultaneously rejecting as epistemologically unsound the feminist critiques of those frameworks. (shrink)
Although a rich tradition of feminist critiques of science exists, it is often difficult for feminists who are scientists to bridge these critiques with practical transformations in scientific knowledge production. In this paper, I go beyond the general bases of feminist critiques of science by using feministtheory in science to illustrate how a practical transformation in methodology can change molecular biology based research in the reproductive sciences.
Differences That Matter challenges existing ways of theorising the relationship between feminism and postmodernism which ask 'is or should feminism be modern or postmodern?' Sara Ahmed suggests that postmodernism has been allowed to dictate feminist debates and calls instead for feminist theorists to speak (back) to postmodernism, rather than simply speak on (their relationship to) it. Such a 'speaking back' involves a refusal to position postmodernism as a generalisable condition of the world and requires closer readings of what (...) postmodernism is actually 'doing' in a variety of disciplinary contexts. Sara Ahmed hence examines constructions of postmodernism in relation to rights, ethics, subjectivity, authorship, meta-fiction and film. (shrink)
Posthumanist feministtheory has been instrumental in demonstrating the salience of gender and sexism in structuring human–animal relationships and in revealing the connections between the oppression of women and of nonhuman animals. Despite the richness of feminist posthumanist theorizations it has been suggested that their influence in contemporary animal ethics has been muted. This marginalization of feminist work—here, in its posthumanist version—is a systemic issue within theory and needs to be remedied. At the same time, (...) the limits of posthumanist feministtheory must also be addressed. Although posthumanist feministtheory has generated a sophisticated body of work analyzing how gendered and sexist discourses and practices subordinate women and animals alike, its imprint in producing intersectional analyses of animal issues is considerably weaker. This leaves theorists vulnerable to charges of essentialism, ethnocentrism, and elitism despite best intentions to avoid such effects and despite commitments to uproot all forms of oppression. Gender-focused accounts also preclude understanding of the importance of race and culture in structuring species-based oppression. To counter these undesirable pragmatic and conceptual developments, posthumanist feministtheory needs to engender feminist accounts that centralize the structural axes of race and culture. (shrink)
Feminist epistemologists who attempt to refigure epistemology must wrestle with a number of dualisms. This essay examines the ways Lorraine Code, Sandra Harding, and Susan Hekman reconceptualize the relationship between self/other, nature/culture, and subject/object as they struggle to reformulate objectivity and knowledge.
My aim in this paper is to introduce a theory of affective labor as byproductive, a concept I develop through analysis of the phenomenology of various affective labor practices in dialog with feminist scholarship, both on gendered and racialized labor, and on affect and emotion. I motivate my theory in the context of literature on affective and emotional labor in philosophy and the social sciences, engaging the post-Marxist literature on affective and immaterial labor and emphasizing feminist (...) critiques. I argue that affective labor is not only the work of producing affects for others to consume or the reproductive work that rejuvenates and sustains labor power and social life, but also the work of metabolizing waste affects and affective byproducts. Thus, byproductive labor is a neologism I develop to bring into view an affective economy and indeed a political economy of affects to the side of the distinction between productive and reproductive labor in its paid and unpaid variants. I make three central c... (shrink)
After a time dominated by nature-phobia, a naturalistic turn is emerging within feministtheory. Welcoming this new theoretical embrace of nature and sympathising with its insistence that nature is not feminism’s enemy, this article nevertheless points to some problematic features of this turn. Focusing on Elizabeth Grosz’s postmodernist readings of Charles Darwin, I suggest that their emphasis of nature’s dynamic, indeterminate and enabling qualities both implies a politically unmotivated glorification of the dynamic and unruly, and as such obscures (...) the important fact that nature also works as a constraining factor on societies. I demonstrate, from the point of view of a Marxist-realist perspective, why an acknowledgement of nature’s limiting force is crucial for the coherence of any theoretical account of the workings of social systems. The article also addresses the feminist imperative to transcend the dualism between nature and culture, and shows how the concept of emergence offers a solution to dilemmas that tend to appear in connection to such efforts of transcendence. (shrink)
What happens when well-defined disciplines meet or are confronted with transdisciplinary discourses and concepts, where transdisciplinary concepts are analytical tools rather than specifications of a field of objects or a class of entities? Or, if disciplines reject transdisciplinary discourses and concepts as having no part to play in their practice, why do they so reject them? This essay addresses these questions through a discussion of the relationship between philosophy – the most tightly policed discipline in the humanities – and what (...) I will argue is the emblematically transdisciplinary practice of feministtheory, via a discussion of interdisciplinarity and related terms in gender studies. It argues that the tendency of philosophy to reject feministtheory in fact correctly intuited that the two defining features of feministtheory – its constitutive tie to a political agenda for social change and the transdisciplinary character of many of its central concepts – are indeed at odds with, and pose a threat to, the traditional insularity of the discipline of philosophy. It argues, further, that feministtheory operates with what we should now recognise as a set of transdisciplinary concepts – including, sex, gender, woman, sexuality and sexual difference – and that the use of these concepts in feminist philosophy has been the most far-reaching continuation in the late 20th/early 21st centuries of the critique of philosophy initiated by Marx and pursued by ‘critical theory’. This puts feminist philosophy in a difficult position: its transdisciplinary aspects open it up to an unavoidable contradiction. Nonetheless, this is a contradiction that can and must be endured and made productive. In order to draw out the specificity of the concept of transdisciplinarity at issue the essay begins with a discussion of attempts to define inter- and transdisciplinarity, particularly in gender studies. Arguing for the transdisciplinary origin of the concept of gender, it then suggests one way of understanding its function as a critical concept, before making explicit how this leads to the historical antagonism between traditional philosophy and the critical, transdisciplinary concept of gender and with feministtheory more generally. (shrink)
Introduction -- By way of nomadism -- Context and generations -- Sexual difference theory -- On the female feminist subject : from "she-self" to "she-other" -- Sexual difference as a nomadic political project -- Organs without bodies -- Images without imagination -- Mothers, monsters, and machines -- Discontinuous becomings : Deleuze and the becoming-woman of philosophy -- Envy and ingratitude: men in feminism -- Conclusion. Geometries of passion : a conversation.
In activist circles feminist political thought is often viewed as abstract because it does not help activists make the kinds of arguments that are generally effective with donors and policy makers. The feminist political philosopher's focus on how we know and what counts as knowledge is a large step away from the terrain in which activists make their arguments to donors. Yet, philosophical reflection on the relations between power and knowledge can make a significant contribution to women's human (...) rights work in the area of evaluation. Feminist political philosophy can offer guidelines for how to evaluate the work of women's human rights organizations and their funders in light of the social, political, and economic conditions that render their work necessary and difficult. This article offers 1) an account of the difficulty in showing the impact of social change activism using conventional modes of measurement, particularly those that focus on first order effects, 2) feminist theoretical insights into the interrelatedness of global gender injustices that may help us develop better benchmarks of evaluation for women's human rights programming, and 3) a sketch of how to approach the evaluation of organizations and donors who seek to support global gender justice. (shrink)
Reading feministtheory as a complex imaginative achievement, Feminist Imagination considers feminist commitment through the interrogation of its philosophical, political and affective connections with the past, and especially with the `race' trials of the twentieth century. The book looks at: the 'directionlessness' of contemporary feminist thought; the question of essentialism and embodiment; the racial tensions in the work of Simone de Beauvoir; the totalitarian character in Hannah Arendt; the 'mimetic Jew' and the concept of mimesis (...) in the work of Judith Butler. Vikki Bell provides a compelling rethinking of feministtheory as bound up with attempts to understand oppression outside a focus on 'women'. She affirms feminism as a site and mode of making these connections. What emerges is a profound work brimming with insight that will be required reading for anyone who is seriously interested in feministtheory and, more generally, contemporary social theory. (shrink)
In this provocative book, Nye argues that feminist attempts to spin coherent theories from the threads of the various philosophies of man fail as the patriarchal assumptions of each theory resist and undermine every effort. Nevertheless, she claims, although the threads cannot be woven into a coherent tapestry, as dedicated feminist Arachnes meticulously separate strand from strand, "the mechanisms of oppression are finally understood" and the patriarchal tapestries begin to unravel.
Politics of Reality includes nine essays that examine sexism, the exploitation of women, the gay rights movement and other topics from a feminist perspective. -/- The essays "The Problem That Has No Name" and "A Note On Anger" have been translated into Spanish by Maria Lugones for circulation in la Asociacion Argentina de Mujeres en Filosofia.
This essay assesses the value of social constructivist theories of science to the history of medicine. It highlights particularly the ways in which feminist theorists have turned their attention to gender as a category of analysis in scientific thinking, producing an approach to modern science that asks how it became identified with "male" objectivity, reason, and mind, set in opposition to "female" subjectivity, feeling, and nature.In the history of medicine this new work has allowed a group of scholars to (...) better explain not only how women were marginalized in the profession but also the manner in which politics, male anxiety about shifts in power relations between the sexes, social and political upheaval, professional concerns, and changes in the family all had an impact on the production of knowledge regarding the female body, including the "discovery," definition, and treatment of a wide range of female ailments, from anorexia nervosa to fibroid tumors.Building on the work in the history of medicine already accomplished, the essay offers a critical rereading of the writings of Elizabeth Blackwell, a pioneer nineteenth-century woman physician and leader of the woman's medical movement. It contends that Blackwell, who lived through a revolutionary change in medical thinking brought on by discoveries in immunology and bacteriology, remained critical of "objectivity" as the "best" form of knowing and suspicious of the laboratory medicine that promoted it so enthusiastically. Moreover, her critiques of radical objectivity and scientific reductionism deserve to be recognized as foreshadowing the maternalist strain of thinking among contemporary feminist philosophers and thinkers such as Sara Ruddick and others. (shrink)
Today intersectionality has expanded from being primarily a metaphor within structuralist feminist research to an all-encompassing theory. This article discusses this increasing dedication to intersectionality in European feminist research. How come intersectionality has developed into a signifier for ‘good feminist research’ at this particular point in time? Drawing on poststructuralist and postcolonial theory the authors examine key articles on intersectionality as well as special issues devoted to the concept. They interrogate the conflicts and meaning making (...) processes as well as the genealogies of the concept. Thus, the epistemology and ontology behind the ‘intersectional turn’ in feministtheory is the main concern here. The authors argue that the lack of ontological discussions has lead to its very popularity. Intersectionality promises almost everything: to provide complexity, overcome divisions and to serve as a critical tool. However, the expansion of the scope of intersectionality has created a consensus that conceals fruitful and necessary conflicts within feminism. (shrink)
Accounts of mothering have both contributed to feministtheory's development and depended on certain of its central concepts. Some of its critics, however, argue that feministtheory is undermined by the problems of exclusion and essentialism. Here I distinguish between these two problems and consider their implications for questions about mothering. I conclude that exclusion and essentialism do not present insurmountable obstacles to theorizing motherhood, but do suggest new directions for such theorizing.
I show how much psychiatric disability is informed by trauma, marginalization, sexist norms, social inequalities, concepts of irrationality and normalcy, oppositional mind-body dualism, and mainstream moral values. Drawing on feminist discussion of physical disability, I present a feministtheory of psychiatric disability that serves to liberate not only those who are psychiatrically disabled but also the mind and moral consciousness restricted in their ranges of rational possibilities.