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Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal

Impact factor: 0.611 Print ISSN: 1464-7001 Publisher: Sage Publications

Subject: Women’s Studies

Most recent papers:

  • 'Almost the same, but not quite: Ontological politics of recognition in modern science fiction.
    Hellstrand, I.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. August 30, 2016

    This article explores how issues of ‘not quite human-ness’ expose the conditions of possibility of being considered human; of human ontology. I refer to these dynamics for identifying sameness and difference as ontological politics of recognition. Tracing the genealogies of passing, I situate passing and Othering socio-political regulation and ideological frameworks for conceptualising ontology. I am particularly concerned with how the notion of ontology is bound up in questions of race and gender, and with the entanglements of technology and biology that can destabilise apparently fixed boundaries between the (natural/normative) human and its (constructed/abnormal) Others. I identify three trajectories of passing as human in the histories of science fiction. The first trajectory discusses ontological mimicry: the ways in which the non-human attempts to be like the human. The second trajectory addresses how passing as human relies on a Butlerian performativity: doing human-ness by complying with the regulatory frames for appearances and practices. The final trajectory discusses what is at stake in contemporary ontological politics of recognition: a renegotiation of human supremacy through an emphasis on collectivity and collaboration rather that singularity and boundedness.

    August 30, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116666240   open full text
  • How free is Beauvoirs freedom? Unchaining Beauvoir through the erotic body.
    Shabot, S. C.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. August 30, 2016

    One of the most important concepts in Simone de Beauvoir’s existentialist and phenomenological ethics is the concept of freedom. In this article, I would like to argue that Beauvoir’s concept of freedom is problematic in being strongly constrained by its essentially active character. This constraint contradicts some of Beauvoir’s major ideas, such as the one that considers the body as a situation, as a source of activity and of freedom in itself, as well as the idea of eroticism as one of the most important expressions of authenticity. I will show that Beauvoir’s concept of freedom can appear to be less constrained by the necessity to be inherently active if we look at it through the ‘crack’ provided by her conception of the erotic body as already embodying freedom. Using this ‘crack’, I will attempt to shed new light on the aspects of Beauvoir’s idea of the erotic that are productive for her conceptions of ethics and of freedom.

    August 30, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116666254   open full text
  • Squeezed between identity politics and intersectionality: A critique of 'thin privilege in Fat Studies.
    Nash, M., Warin, M.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. August 26, 2016

    With the rise of ‘globesity’, fat activism and Fat Studies have become political players in countering negative stereotypes and the devaluation of fat bodies. Both groups are diverse, yet share a common goal to celebrate and/or accept fatness, and challenge practices and discourses that reinforce ‘normal’ bodies (such as diets, ‘fat talk’ and medicalisation). In this article, we reflect on our engagement with a Fat Studies conference, and critically interrogate the assumptions that underlie this particular space. It is not surprising that fat activists and Fat Studies scholars bring different ideologies to the table, yet the differences between them have not been adequately scrutinised or theorised. Drawing upon Linda Alcoff’s feminist philosophy, we examine how identity politics and intersectional perspectives are both used in fat activism, yet have the effect of creating unresolved tensions between singular and multiple embodied identities. We argue that an identity politics approach (exemplified through embodied visibility and declarations of ‘thin privilege’) has the potential to create boundaries for policing and exclusion, and is thus at odds with the much broader axes identified by intersectorial approaches. Rather than dismiss the power of identity politics, we argue for a careful reframing of the relationship between identity politics and intersectionality in fat activism and Fat Studies. We suggest that unexamined contradictions that arise from this mismatch may be counterproductive to the important subversive aims of the movement.

    August 26, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116666253   open full text
  • How should marriage be theorised?
    Nuti, A.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. August 26, 2016

    Feminists have noted the injustice of the institution of marriage and the asymmetric power dynamics within gender-structured marriages. Recently, feminists have found an unexpected supporter of this struggle against marriage in some liberal political theorists. I argue that this new wave of interest in the wrongness of marriage within liberalism reveals shortcomings from a feminist perspective. While some liberals fail to realise that instead of being disestablished, the institution of marriage should be radically reformed, others do not recognise that such a reform should be theorised by starting from our non-idealised conditions of gender inequality and from an analysis of how the institution of marriage intersects with other spheres of gender injustice. This article provides recommendations for the radical reform of marriage by following some methodological premises of feminist theory. To illustrate how the reform of marriage should be theorised, it focuses on the intersection between the sphere of gender injustice represented by immigration and that of marriage.

    August 26, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116666235   open full text
  • Whose personal is more political? Experience in contemporary feminist politics.
    Phipps, A.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. August 13, 2016

    Whose personal is more political? This paper explores the role of experience in contemporary feminist politics, arguing that it operates as a form of capital within abstracted and decontextualised debates which entrench existing power relations. In a neoliberal context in which the personal and emotional is commodified, powerful groups mobilise traumatic narratives to gain political advantage. Through case study analysis this paper shows how privileged feminists, speaking for others and sometimes for themselves, use experience to generate emotion and justify particular agendas, silencing critics who are often from more marginalised social positions. The use of the experiential as capital both reflects and perpetuates the neoliberal invisibilisation of structural dynamics: it situates all experiences as equal, and in the process fortifies existing inequalities. This competitive discursive field is polarising, and creates selective empathies through which we tend to discredit others’ realities instead of engaging with their politics. However, I am not arguing for a renunciation of the politics of experience: instead, I ask that we resist its commodification and respect varied narratives while situating them in a structural frame.

    August 13, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116663831   open full text
  • Gender studies as a multi-centred field? Centres and peripheries in academic gender research.
    Wöhrer, V.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. June 06, 2016

    In this paper I analyse prominent textbooks, encyclopedias and journals in the field of women’s and gender studies and ask where the authors and concepts presented in these texts and sites of publication come from in terms of geographic location. This is inspired by the question: to what extent can gender studies be described as a ‘multi-centered’ field (Connell, 2011) and can gender studies take into account feminist concepts of knowledge production which favour the involvement of the greatest possible diversity of authors (Longino, 1990; Harding, 1991)? The analyses presented here show that being located at a North American or Western European institution still seems to be a crucial factor in authors being published and referred to – both in Western academic centres and in other regions. It seems that there is still a long way to go before various local gender studies communities can communicate on a more egalitarian footing.

    June 06, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116652840   open full text
  • Coloniality at work: Decolonial critique and the postfeminist regime.
    Giraldo, I.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. May 28, 2016

    In this article I address the imbalance in the production and circulation of knowledge in the dominant Anglo-American academic circuit, aiming to make visible feminist work in a decolonial vein carried out in Latin America, to recentre the decolonial option with regard to established postcolonial studies and to propose a way of understanding global postfeminist female subjectivity as mediated in mass media. The decolonial option offers a rich theoretical toolbox for exploring contemporary junctions of gender, race and the question of representation. I propose a reworking of the concept of the ‘coloniality of gender’, and briefly discuss how Femen and the figure of the exoticised female pop icon exemplify coloniality at work.

    May 28, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116652835   open full text
  • Border thinking and disidentification: Postcolonial and postsocialist feminist dialogues.
    Tlostanova, M., Koobak, R., Thapar-Björkert, S.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. May 02, 2016

    In the context of the continuing dominance of delocalised Western feminist theoretical models, which allow the non-Western and not quite Western ‘others’ to either be epistemically annihilated or appropriated, it becomes crucial to look for transformative feminist theoretical tools which can eventually help break the so-called mere recognition patterns and move in the direction of transversal dialogues, mutual learning practices and volatile but effective feminist coalitions. Speaking from the position of postcolonial and postsocialist feminist others vis-a-vis the dominant Western/Northern gender studies mainstream, and drawing on examples from a broad range of social contexts (from the Armenian queer social movement to a recent Indian gang rape controversy), the authors of this article address the validity of two such transformative feminist tools: border thinking that operates on a more general theoretical level, and disidentification that offers a more praxial operational realisation of the border principle.

    May 02, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116645878   open full text
  • Conceptualising violence and gender in the Brazilian context: New issues and old dilemmas.
    Debert, G. G., Gregori, M. F.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. April 28, 2016

    This article examines conceptualisations of violence against women developed in Brazilian feminism, and in legal and institutional measures against violence, from the 1980s to the present. Based on ethnographic studies carried out at the Women’s Police Stations and Special Criminal Courts, and the controversies surrounding the 2006 Brazilian Law on domestic and familial violence, the authors map the meanings of expressions such as ‘violence against women’, ‘marital violence’, ‘domestic violence’, ‘family violence’ and ‘gender violence’. The article reveals that the discourse that transforms violence into crime, in the Brazilian context, leads to semantic and institutional developments that replace an interest in politicising justice for the defence of women with the judicialisation of family relations.

    April 28, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116645876   open full text
  • Sumak Kawsay, coloniality and the criminalisation of violence against women in Ecuador.
    Tapia Tapia, S.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. April 25, 2016

    This article asks if the incorporation of Sumak Kawsay, a concept from Andean philosophy, into the Constitution of Ecuador, has impacted the legal regulation of violence against women. It examines the trajectory of penal reform in the field of domestic violence and suggests that the decolonial shift in the Constitution has failed to significantly disrupt the dominant framework of penality in which gender violence regulation is inscribed. At the same time, feminist demands have been reframed through the formations of criminal law and the dominant political discourse, resulting in provisions that reproduce a positivistic logic and a family protection rationality, with problematic consequences for women’s access to justice on the ground. If securing success in legal reform entails translating emancipatory demands into established and unchallenged penal paradigms, the potential of decolonial notions is overshadowed by the language, formalities and underlying assumptions of criminal law.

    April 25, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116645324   open full text
  • Making Southern theory? Gender researchers in South Africa.
    Morrell, R.
    Feminist Theory: An International Interdisciplinary Journal. April 25, 2016

    This article examines the work of six South African gender researchers working in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It suggests that their work should be understood as situated in terms of politics, educational histories, theoretical connections and transnational engagements. It reflects on whether this work can be considered an example of Southern theory, and in turn suggests that Southern theory should itself be understood in relational terms that acknowledge both geopolitical connection and distance. The researchers who were interviewed by the author all draw on a feminist language and conceptual toolbox initially developed in Northern contexts, but in the recent period modified and extended by engagements with postcolonial and other feminisms. The article shows how South Africa’s repressive political conditions and deep racial and social class inequalities influenced the research. There was a strong link between anti-apartheid activism and research choices which reflected a battle for the inclusion of gender in struggles that prioritised the focus on race and class inequalities. Research was also shaped by the researchers’ relationship to activism and their engagement with marginality stemming from histories of colonialism and imperialism.

    April 25, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1464700116645877   open full text