Feminist Imagination: Genealogies in Feminist Theory
Reading feminist theory 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 feminist theory 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.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Affirming Feminism
- Outline of the Book
- Chapter 2: Phantastic Communities and Dangerous Thinking: Feminist Political Imagination
- Sculpting Feminism
- Feminism and Figures of Finitude
- From the First to the Third Phase with Kristeva: Why So Quarrelsome?
- The Trouble with being Tempted by Nietzsche
- Dangerous Thinking and the Future of Feminism
- Conclusion: So What if We're Phantastic?
- Chapter 3: Suffering: Thinking Politics with Simone de Beauvoir and Richard Wright
- Wounded Attachment? Feminism and Ressentiment
- Beyond Ressentiment: Modes of Connectivity
- Chapter 4: Appearance: Thinking Difference in the Political Realm with Hannah Arendt
- ‘Little Rock’
- Appearing in the Political Realm
- Appearance and Natality
- Difference and/in the Public Realm
- Chapter 5: Mimesis as Cultural Survival: Judith Butler and Anti-Semitism
- Butler, Mimesis and Imitation: Carrying on Gender
- Judaism, Anti-Semitism and Mimesis
- Mimesis in a New Agenda
- Chapter 6: Essentialism and Embodiment: The Politics behind the Paranoia
- Essentialism and Paranoia
- Appealing to the Body: Re-Reading Levinas on the Body and Hitlerism
- Emerging Bodies, Exploding Bodies: The Work of Frantz Fanon
- Embodiment in Feminist Theory
- Chapter 7: Conclusion: Trauma and Temporality in Genealogical Feminist Critique
Theory, Culture & Society[Page ii]
Theory, Culture & Society caters for the resurgence of interest in culture within contemporary social science and the humanities. Building on the heritage of classical social theory, the book series examines ways in which this tradition has been reshaped by a new generation of theorists. It also publishes theoretically informed analyses of everyday life, popular culture, and new intellectual movements.
EDITOR: Mike Featherstone, Nottingham Trent University
SERIES EDITORIAL BOARD
Roy Boyne, University of Durham
Mike Hepworth, University of Aberdeen
Scott Lash, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Roland Robertson, University of Pittsburgh
Bryan S. Turner, University of Cambridge
THE TCS CENTRE
The Theory, Culture & Society book series, the journals Theory, Culture & Society and Body & Society, and related conference, seminar and postgraduate programmes operate from the TCS Centre at Nottingham Trent University. For further details of the TCS Centre's activities please contact:
The TCS Centre, Room 175
Faculty of Humanities
Nottingham Trent University
Clifton Lane, Nottingham, NG11 8NS, UK
Recent volumes include:
Radical Conservatism and the Future of Politics
Spaces of Culture
Mike Featherstone and Scott Lash
Love and Eroticism
edited by Mike Featherstone
Performativity and Belonging
edited by Vikki Bell
© Vikki Bell 1999
First published 1999
Published in association with Theory, Culture & Society, Nottingham Trent University
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission in writing from the Publishers.
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ISBN 0 8039 7970 3
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Typeset by Mayhew Typesetting, Rhayader, Powys
Printed and bound in Great Britain by Athenaeum Press,
The publication of this work owes much to the encouragement of the Theory, Culture & Society team, and I am especially grateful to Scott Lash and Mike Featherstone for their initial invitation, and to Stephen Barr of Sage.
I am indebted in many ways to Paul Gilroy, who has co-designed and co-taught several of the courses within which I explored these ideas, but whose generosity has exceeded that role. His thought is truly ‘without banisters’, as Hannah Arendt put it; and I hope he will see his influence and encouragement reflected in this book. Les Back's work has lived and blossomed across the hall from mine, and I have been delighted to have had the experience of his accompaniment on various – theoretical, personal and musical – journeys. I would like to thank Nikolas Rose for his work, his friendship and support. The ‘History of the Present’ Network has been a place to discuss issues around the work of Michel Foucault – I am grateful to the group and for the friendship of its members. A big thank you to other colleagues and friends within and outside Goldsmiths College – especially Emilios Christodoulidis, Anne Marie Fortier, Mariam Fraser, Monica Greco, Celia Lury, Maggie O'Neill, Tom Osborne, Colin Perrin, Fran Tonkiss, Vron Ware. My students, graduate and undergraduate, helped me sort out my thoughts more than perhaps they realise.
Judith Butler lent me her office and her inspiration on my term's sabbatical at the Department of Rhetoric, Berkeley, University of California, and gave me the opportunity to have feedback from the scholars gathered there. I thank in particular Dina AI-Kassim for her friendship and careful reading. My time in San Francisco was made special by the generosity of David Eng and the renewed friendships of Marianne Constable, Kum Kum Bhavnani, and Leti and Serena Volpp; also by Tommy Lott, whose considered thoughts and company were much appreciated. Many thanks are due to Lewis Eichele for becoming my cherished friend and for taping The Simpsons for me, and to David Goldberg who continues to give me trans-Atlantic encouragement and to share his work generously.
As ever, I thank Sam King – there is no thought without barristers – and Charlotte Pomery, the kindest of friends. Rachel Cottam, Jenny Kent and Pete Jones have been sources of humour and sanity. I acknowledge my family, and especially my nephews: Nathaniel, Vivian, Ashley and Jacob. This book is dedicated to the memory of my granny, Betty Bell, who would have loved to have been able to tease her blue-stocking granddaughter on publication day.
[Page viii]Paul Kerr came back into my life as if to persuade me to fate and faith; my main distraction and my main source of sustenance, I thank him for his love, affection and creativity. Also to Ella, thanks for intermittently reminding me how far past my delivery date this manuscript was, and other stuff besides.
None of the above, of course, bears any responsibility for, nor necessarily concords with, the arguments posited here; these are mine alone.London
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