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Lecture Notes

PHIL 406

Table of contents
  1. Week 2 Tuesday: African Feminism and Intersectionality
  2. Week 2 Thursday:
  3. Week 3 Tuesday: Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science
  4. Week 4 Tuesday: Intersectional Feminism
  5. Week 4 Thursday: Transnational Feminism

Week 2 Tuesday: African Feminism and Intersectionality

  • How to recognize wihthout marginalizing the people who are oppressed according to gender.
  • Ripples / waves of feminism
  • Assimilation / an anti-universality becoming a new universality – is the chameleon a metaphysically problematic (‘new universal’) being?
  • What is the metaphysical / ontological nature of the metaphor and the subject? Are they instantiations of the same Platonic form?
  • Crenshaw reading

Week 2 Thursday:

  • Evolutionary biology – mammals, primates, linking concepts of sex / sexual dynamics in biology with human gender
  • What is Crenshaw trying to emphasize?
  • General problem with the single-axis: it captures important elements of discrimination, but it is not sufficient
  • Multiple axis: sex + gender + race + …
  • At a unique position: black women are uniquely discriminated against. It’s not about simply adding identities, but about unique intersections which are more than the sum of their parts.
  • Testimony on womens’ pain is often not taken seriously, especially Black womens’ pain

Discrimination along A:


Discrimination along B:


Discrimination against A or B:


Discrimination uniquely at A and B:


Waves of feminism

  • ‘First movement’: 1848 - 1920, suffrage
  • The idea of ‘waves’ coined during the ‘second wave’
  • Focus of the ‘third wave’, 1991 - now: intersectionality

Week 3 Tuesday: Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science

  • Knowledge and ignorance from the perspective of feminism.
  • Two questions for Haraway
    • The metaphor of vision: what is the metaphor of vision doing in the text?
    • What is the problem of objectivity for feminism / feminist epistemology and philosophy of science?
  • Surveillance and the male gaze, a perversion / false standing for universality
  • The view from nowhere, which transcends location, particularity, identity.
  • You will always have views from somewhere, based on embodiment.
  • Problem of objectivity: how can you have objective, situated knowledge?
  • Alcoff, epistemologies of ignorance
    • Lorraine Code, epistemic knowers are not constant. Situated knowledge.
    • Sandra Harding, group identities influence what knowledge you have and your ignorance.
    • Charles Mills,
    • Also, Horkheimer
  • Ignorance epistemology is always associated with a “rational” system of judgement
  • Our very conception of truth can be itself ignorant, in Horkheimer’s case, failing to be sociologically reflexive, that is, accounting for its conditions of (re)production.
  • Yet the notion of critical reason is still very dubious… and possibly reproduces instrumental reason’s logic.

Week 4 Tuesday: Intersectional Feminism

  • Concern: “my feminism will be intersectional” has become a tired cliche
  • Whose intersection(s)?
  • Transnational feminism: race and colonization
  • Are you committed to decolonizing if you are committed to intersectional feminism?
  • Intersectionality not about individuals but about social axes / dimensions
  • Friendship? Care? Friendship throughotu colonialism? Is there a burden/strain of friendship?
  • Is friendship reciprocal?
  • “Affectively saturated” story – the main feeling about the stories we tell of intersectionality is of black feminism vs. the critic, the affect of defensiveness
  • Does Nash end up reproducing what she criticizes?
  • Political libido
  • the role of affect in feminist theory, what it means to theorize
  • Nash: Black feminists have adopted a vision of intersectionality which is not true to Black feminism
    • Black feminism should not follow a capitalist logic of property accumulation (‘this is mine, this is my territory, this is my land’) – think about and be more critical about the concerns around ‘appropriation’, etc.

Week 4 Thursday: Transnational Feminism

  • Is transnational feminism about intersectionality?
  • Decolonization vs intersectionality
  • Post-feminism: the idea that feminism is no longer necessary, that we have achieved equality
  • Post-colonialism: understanding the world after colonialism, after the end of colonialism. Imperialism after imperialism.
  • Settler colonialism.

What is ideal theory?

  • Full compliance (people tend to agree and enact justice) vs partial compliance
  • Utopian vs realistic (how many factual constraints are there)
  • End-state vs transitional
  • Ideal vs non-ideal
  • John Rawls, Theory of Justice
  • Khader – arguing against using ideal theory to critique non-Western culture
  • Ideal theory needs to be thin as opposed to thick