Material Feminisms

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<P>Harnessing the energy of provocative theories generated by recent understandings of the human body, the natural world, and the material world, Material Feminisms presents an entirely new way for feminists to conceive of the question of materiality. In lively and timely essays, an international group of feminist thinkers challenges the assumptions and norms that have previously defined studies about the body. These wide-ranging essays grapple with topics such as the material reality of race, the significance of sexual difference, the impact of disability experience, and the complex interaction between nature and culture in traumatic events such as Hurricane Katrina. By insisting on the importance of materiality, this volume breaks new ground in philosophy, feminist theory, cultural studies, science studies, and other fields where the body and nature collide.</P>
<P>Contents<BR>Acknowledgments<BR>Introduction: Emerging Models of Materiality in Feminist Theory / Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman<BR>Part 1. Material Theory<BR>1. Darwin and Feminism: Preliminary Investigations for a Possible Alliance / Elizabeth Grosz<BR>2. On Not Becoming Man: The Materialist Politics of Unactualized Potential / Claire Colebrook<BR>3. Constructing the Ballast: An Ontology for Feminism / Susan Hekman<BR>4. Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter / Karen Barad<BR>Part 2. Material World<BR>5. Otherworldly Conversations, Terran Topics, Local Terms / Donna J. Haraway<BR>6. Viscous Porosity: Witnessing Katrina / Nancy Tuana<BR>7. Natural Convers(at)ions: Or, What if Culture Was Really Nature All Along? / Vicki Kirby<BR>8. Trans-Corporeal Feminisms and the Ethical Space of Nature / Stacy Alaimo<BR>9. Landscape, Memory, and Forgetting: Thinking through (My Mother's) Body and Place / Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands<BR>Part 3. Material Bodies<BR>10. Disability Experience on Trial / Tobin Siebers<BR>11. How Real Is Race? / Michael Hames-García<BR>12. From Race/Sex/Etc. to Glucose, Feeding Tube, and Mourning: The Shifting Matter of Chicana Feminism / Suzanne Bost<BR>13. Organic Empathy: Feminism, Psychopharmaceuticals and the Embodiment of Depression / Elizabeth A. Wilson<BR>14. Cassie's Hair / Susan Bordo<BR>List of Contributors<BR>Index</P>

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Published 02 January 2008
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MATERIAL FEMINISMS
MATERIAL FEMINISMS
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Material feminisms / edited by Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman.  p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-253-34978-1 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN-13: 978-0-253-21946-6 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Feminist theory. 2. Body, Human. I. Alaimo, Stacy, date II. Hekman, Susan J. HQ1190.M3775 2008 305.4201—dc22 2007019295
1 2 3 4 5 13 12 11 10 09 08
To Justin and Jeanne
CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
INTRODUCTION: EMERGING MODELS OF MATERIALITY IN FEMINIST THEORY Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman
PART 1. MATERIAL THEORY
1. DARWIN AND FEMINISM: PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATIONS FOR A POSSIBLE ALLIANCE Elizabeth Grosz
2. ON NOT BECOMING MAN: THE MATERIALIST POLITICS OF UNACTUALIZED POTENTIAL Claire Colebrook
3. CONSTRUCTING THE BALLAST: AN ONTOLOGY FOR FEMINISM Susan Hekman
4. POSTHUMANIST PERFORMATIVITY: TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF HOW MATTER COMES TO MATTER Karen Barad
PART 2. MATERIAL WORLD
5. OTHERWORLDLY CONVERSATIONS, TERRAN TOPICS, LOCAL TERMS Donna J. Haraway
6. VISCOUS POROSITY: WITNESSING KATRINA Nancy Tuana
7. NATURAL CONVERS(AT)IONS: OR, WHAT IF CULTURE WAS REALLY NATURE ALL ALONG? Vicki Kirby
8. TRANS-CORPOREAL FEMINISMS AND THE ETHICAL SPACE OF NATURE Stacy Alaimo
9. LANDSCAPE, MEMORY, AND FORGETTING: THINKING THROUGH (MY MOTHER’S) BODY AND PLACE Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands
PART 3. MATERIAL BODIES
10. DISABILITY EXPERIENCE ON TRIAL Tobin Siebers
11. HOW REAL IS RACE? Michael Hames-García
12. FROM RACE/SEX/ETC. TO GLUCOSE, FEEDING TUBE, AND MOURNING: THE SHIFTING MATTER OF CHICANA FEMINISM Suzanne Bost
13. ORGANIC EMPATHY: FEMINISM, PSYCHOPHARMACEUTICALS, AND THE EMBODIMENT OF DEPRESSION Elizabeth A. Wilson
14. CASSIE’S HAIR Susan Bordo
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
INDEX
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Permission granted by The University of Chicago Press to reprint Karen Barad’s essay “Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter,” as it appeared inSigns(2003), 801–31. © 2003 by The University of Chicago. All rights 28:3 reserved.
Permission granted by Routledge Publishing, Inc. to reprint Donna J. Haraway’s essay “Otherworldly Conversations, Terran Topics, Local Terms,” as it appeared inThe Haraway Reader,by Donna J. Haraway. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Permission granted by aunt lute Books to reprint Gloria Anzaldúa’s poem “Cihuatlyotl,Woman Alone” fromBorderlands/La Frontera.San Francisco: aunt lute Books, 1987.
Linda G. Hardnett’s poem “If Hair Makes Me Black, I Must Be Purple” appeared inBlack Hair, edited by Ima Ebong. New York: Universe Publishing, 2001.
Permission granted by Debraha Watson to reprint her poem “Good Hair” as it appeared in Black Hair,edited by Ima Ebong. New York: Universe Publishing, 2001.
MATERIAL FEMINISMS
INTRODUCTION: EMERGING MODELS OF MATERIALITY IN FEMINIST THEORY
Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman
The purpose of this anthology is to bring the material, specifically the materiality of the human body and the natural world, into the forefront of feminist theory and practice. This is no small matter indeed, and we expect this collection to spark intense debate. Materiality, particularly that of bodies and natures, has long been an extraordinarily volatile site for feminist theory— so volatile, in fact, that the guiding rule of procedure for most contemporary feminisms requires that one distance oneself as much as possible from the tainted realm of materiality by taking refuge within culture, discourse, and language. Our thesis is that feminist theory is at an impasse caused by the contemporary linguistic turn in feminist thought. With the advent of postmodernism and poststructuralism, many feminists have turned their attention to social constructionist models. They have focused on the role of language in the constitution of social reality, demonstrating that discursive practices constitute the social position of women. They have engaged in productive and wide-ranging analyses and deconstructions of the concepts that define and derogate women. The turn to the linguistic and discursive has been enormously productive for feminism. It has fostered complex analyses of the interconnections between power, knowledge, subjectivity, and language. It has allowed feminists to understand gender from a new and fruitful perspective. For example, it has allowed feminists to understand how gender has been articulated with other volatile markings, such as class, race, and sexuality, within cultural systems of difference that function like a language (à la Ferdinand de Saussure). The rigorous deconstructions of Jacques Derrida and Luce Irigaray (especially withinSPeculum of the Other Woman)have exposed the pernicious logic that casts woman as subordinated, inferior, a mirror of the same, or all but invisible. At the forefront of this turn to the linguistic is the influence of postmodern thought in feminist theory. The strength of postmodern feminism is to reveal that since its inception, Western thought has been structured by a series of gendered dichotomies. Postmodern feminists have argued that the male/female dichotomy informs all the dichotomies that ground Western thought: culture/nature, mind/body, subject/object, rational/emotional, and countless others. Postmodern feminists have further argued that it is imperative not to move from one side of the dichotomy to the other, to reverse the privileging of concepts, but to deconstruct the dichotomy itself, to move to an understanding that does not rest on oppositions. Feminist theory and practice have been significantly enriched by these postmodern insights. Postmodern analysis has revealed the liability of defining and fixing the identity of “woman” in any location or of attempting to assert the superiority of the feminine over the masculine. Indeed, within queer theory, especially, the “feminine” and the “masculine” have been productively unmoored, contested, and redeployed. But it is now apparent that the move to the linguistic, particularly in its postmodern variant, has serious liabilities as well as advantages. In short, postmodernism has not fulfilled its promise as a theoretical grounding for feminism. Although postmoderns claim to reject all dichotomies, there is one dichotomy that they appear to embrace almost without question: language/reality. Perhaps due to its centrality in modernist thought, postmoderns are very uncomfortable with the concept of the real or the material. Whereas the epistemology of modernism is grounded in objective access to a real/natural world, postmodernists argue that the real/material is entirely constituted by language; what we call the real is a product of language and has its reality only in language. In their zeal to reject the modernist grounding in the material, postmoderns have turned to the discursive pole as the exclusive source of the constitution of nature, society, and reality. Far from deconstructing the dichotomies of language/reality or culture/nature, they have rejected