Morefuntocompute and I are presenting on Monday, and we were hoping to start an online discussion about these readings that can be carried over to class. It may very well fail. (Read more.)
One issue that appears to preoccupy all four of this week's thinkers is the situation of feminism in the context of postmodernity. Have the conditions of transnational capital and its "cultural logic" created a crisis for emancipatory politics? In class discussion, the general consensus seems to be yes; it is difficult to map one's own locus of agency, much less envision coherent, "big-picture" activism. The question of feminism is particularly interesting amidst such complexity, since many of its basic categories, "women," "patriarchy," "oppression," etc. take such incommensurate form in different contexts. Posing the question "Is postmodernity *good* for women?" seems to immediately evoke another question: "For which women, where?"
In many ways, the gradations between Haraway, Benhabib, Huyssen, and Hutcheon's positions (all of which, I think, can be properly understood as "feminisms") come through in their respective understanding of this contingent quality of struggle. Are large-scale women's liberation projects possible? If so, what changes must they undergo to remain efficacious in the postmodern period? If not, where does feminism stand? These debates often revolve around conceptualizations of subjectivity. The epistemological shfits that someone like Derrida proposes (no more centered structured; meaning is completely self-referential) are producing an increasingly simulacral social and political landscape. Does this render traditional theories of the political subject are contrived, illegitimate, and/or naive? Or, on the other hand, are "death of the author"-style narratives in fact White-male illusions that reify gender (and other inequalities) by way of erasure? Do we throw the baby (of struggle) out with the bathwater (of centered-ness) in critiques of modern subjectivity?
Please share your thoughts!