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.

Affirming Feminism

Affirming feminism

[T]he question of whether or not a position is right, coherent or interesting is, in this case, less informative than why it is that we come to occupy and defend the territory that we do, from what it promises to protect us. (Judith Butler, 1995: 128)

Not ‘what can I know?’ but rather ‘how have my questions been produced?’ … Not ‘what ought I to do?’ but rather ‘how have I been situated to experience the real? How have exclusions operated in delineating the realm of obligation for me?’ Not ‘what may I hope for?’ but rather ‘what are the struggles in which I am engaged? How has my aspiration been defined?’ (James Bernauer, 1995: 270–1)

What does it mean to affirm oneself as ...

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