The aim of the article is to further assess and develop feminist standpoint theory by introducing the notion of the `situated imagination' as constituting an important part of this theory as well as that of `situated knowledge'. The article argues that the faculty of the imagination constructs as well as transforms, challenges and supersedes both existing knowledge and social reality. However, like knowledge, it is crucial to theorize the imagination as situated, that is, as shaped and conditioned (although not determined) (...) by social positioning. (shrink)
In this essay I explore the role of dialectics for how social theory can take account of the problem of structure and agency, or, determination and freedom, in a critical and emancipatory way. I discuss the limits and possibilities of dialectical, and of anti-dialectical, criticisms of Hegelian dialectics. For this purpose, I look at Judith Butlers discussion of dialectics and the concepts of sex and gender in her writings between 1987 ( Subjects of Desire ; republished 1999) and 1990 ( (...) Gender Trouble , republished 2000). Butlers book Gender Trouble remains a key text of contemporary feminist theory. Butler formulates in this book a critique of Simone de Beauvoirs The Second Sex based on her claim that Beauvoir makes a distinction between sex and gender that implies the notion of the sexed body as a pre-cultural entity. In her earlier writings, though, her evaluation of de Beauvoir had been much more positive. The change in Butlers evaluation of de Beauvoir is part of her increasing rejection of dialectics: Butler rejected in Gender Trouble any form of Hegelian dialectics with reference to Luce Irigarays (1985) claim that it is phallogocentric. Although Butler subsequently returned to Hegelian themes, she seems never to have revoked this claim made in her most momentous work. I argue that this change in the theoretical structure of Butlers argument weakens her critique of identity politics and I suggest reading Butler backwards, from Gender Trouble to the more open discussion of dialectics in her earlier texts. Drawing on Adornos Negative Dialectics and other formulations of critical theory, I argue that the valid aspects of the critique of Hegelian dialectics can better be formulated as a dialectical critique of dialectics (Adorno; Butler, 1987a) than as a rejection of dialectics (Derrida; Irigaray; Butler, 1990). Retracing the genealogy of Butlers argument will be a necessary backdrop, too, for evaluating her more recent comments on the Hegelian and Frankfurt School traditions such as her Adorno Lectures given in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in November 2002. Key Words: Theodor W. Adorno agency Judith Butler Simone de Beauvoir dialectics emancipation G. W. F. Hegel sex/gender distinction structure subjectivity. (shrink)
The article explores various ways collectivity boundaries and territorial borders, as well as the act of crossing them, are experienced and imagined, particularly by women. In doing so, the article draws on autobiographical material collected by email from women in about 25 different countries.
This article examines a fundamental theoretical aspect of the discourse on ‘intersectionality’ in feminist and anti-racist social theory, namely, the question whether intersecting social divisions including those of sex, gender, race, class and sexuality are interacting but independent entities with autonomous ontological bases or whether they are different dimensions of the same social system that lack separate social ontologies and constitute each other. Based on a historical reconstruction of its genesis, the article frames this as a dispute between system-theoretical and (...) dialectical, ‘Critical Theory’-related approaches and argues that the latter better capture the dynamics of contemporary society, including the perspective of its transcendence. (shrink)