A Vindication of Feminism as Identity Politics: Towards a Combaheean Response to Zerilli's "Freedom-Centered Feminism" Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Caver, Christopher Martin
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • This paper is primarily an extended critique and meditation on Linda Zerilli's Feminism and The Abyss of Freedom. In that remarkable text Zerilli attempts to move beyond the perennial debates of identity reification, deconstruction, and calls to a strategic essentialism. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, she helps us to refocus on the primacy of politics as an active doing instead of a rule-governed practice. However, in so doing she downplays the work of feminists committed to just the sort of political engagement she champions, yet who insist on making claims based on identity. I attempt to show that these identity claims should not be perceived as a rule which politics should follow, but as essentially political themselves. Using the Combahee River Collective Statement as an illustration of this, I show how identity claims are not necessarily claims to privileged knowledge or preferential treatment, nor are they confining caricatures that lock their claimants in oppressive stereotypes, binding them to the recognition they seek. Instead, the Combahee River Collective shows how identity politics names the exclusion felt by specific identity groups and enacts a new political discourse where their perspective and their interests are taken seriously.
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  • In Copyright
  • Bickford, Susan
  • Master of Arts
Graduation year
  • 2013

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