“We had our feminist reading group last night.” “Oh yeah, the hen house.”

June 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Last night was festive, intimate and included much necessary debate, to use one of Ahmed’s keywords (“this debate?”), about what counts as feminist theory. After three sessions and producing three journals, we are thinking about the ways we’re positioning ourselves as a group/collective on a political and social level, and also about the ways we become positioned, or more so categorized as a group/collective/individuals.

We’re tightening up. Theoretical kegel exercises, if you will.

A brief recap: We talked about issues around feminist theory becoming it’s own capital “T” theory. Historically theory has used very phallocentric language and feminist work, in opposition to this, involved including women into the discourse. Ahmed is conscious of language’s role in delineating theory as more or less read in the academy, and she brings this to focus when not treating “theory” as a fixed object of study but preferring the verb “theorizing” “as it makes clear that there is a process involved” (99). Theory is in motion, always moving. Movement, then, is another keyword in producing feminist theory whereby some women (“Western bourgeois feminist nomadic intellectuals”) have the mobility and freedom to travel, reaping the benefits of the modern day pilgrimage, while other women (“who do not have passports”) do not. Acknowledging this differentiation in power is one point the other is to consider how “feminist theory is about producing different ways of dwelling and moving in the world in the very act of explaining its own existence, as form of contestation, in local spaces.”

We looked at theory as pattern making, involving a series of questions, as well as the double register and cyclical effect of dispute: contesting capitalist patriarchy and white imperialism, contesting the work of feminists, contesting the personal, contesting … (etc.). We talked about how exhausting this can become, self-sacrificial in ways yet vital to social transformation and social responsibility.

We were also critical of how the academy and institution were framed as recognizing feminist theory as such. Important critiques concerning the feminist theorist as a translator to the “undercommons” (segue to reading groups of plenty this summer) were brought forward.

Next week:

Time: 7:30-9:30 pm

Date: June 11th 2014

We’ll be reading bell hooks’ chapter from Black Looks titled “Eating the Other” and Douglas Kearney’s poem “Radio”, in continuation of addressing the differences within feminisms as well as interrogating the manipulative post-colonial consumption of “otherness.”

See current schedule for links to the articles.


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