Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

Keynote Address at The Ninth Annual South Asia Graduate Student Conference, University of Chicago, April 5, 2012.

Translation as paradigmatic of any conversation, and every act of translation as shot through with power relations – this understanding is now very much part of a certain common sense arising from a formidable body of scholarship. One point of departure from here is in the direction of seeing translation as a hermeneutic project of understanding, an ethical project of destabilizing the Self through engagement with the Other; another is in the direction of recognizing the constitutive misreading underlying any project of translation.

Today, taking on board much of this work, I would like to reflect particularly on another aspect of translation – as a project of rendering intelligible. What are the limits to this project? Who seeks intelligibility? Who evades it or simply in daily quotidian ways, by-passes its operations? Is the quest for mutual intelligibility implicit in all social interaction? But more critically – is this very assumption of the possibility of mutual intelligibility complicit in projects of power?

I will lay out four stories that speak to these questions in different ways – the story of Arabic philosopher Ibn Rushd and his encounter with the Greek philosopher Aristotle (also known, in an act of translation of a more banal kind, as Averroes and Arastu in each other’s cultures); the story of the ignorant schoolmaster, Jacotot, as told by Ranciere; the story of The Spirit Eaters, a piece of performance art recently enacted by the artist Subodh Gupta in Delhi; and finally, the story of the struggle of practising psychoanalysts in India to establish proper masculine subjectivity in Freudian terms. (more…)

Presented at conference organized by  Department of English (Delhi University)  February 14, 2011. The title of the  conference was “Postfeminist Postmortems?  Gender, Sexualities and Multiple  Modernities”.

Cross-posted on kafila

To paraphrase Anthony Appiah’s famous and oft-quoted question – Is the post of postfeminist the post of postmortem? That is, as in postmortem, does “post” mean definitively over, after, having transcended, gone beyond? To those who would answer “yes”, those privileged young women who float through their empowered lives in the wake of over a century of feminist struggles but disown their own heritage, to them I can only say – I’ll be a post-feminist in post-patriarchy. Or – not for a long time yet, baby.

But my answer to that question is “no”. I understand the post of postfeminism in the sense that Laclau and Mouffe understand their postmarxism. That is, post-feminist as indicating “having passed through” that body of thought; having lived through, experienced, feminist theory and politics in such a way that the terrain one now inhabits has been decisively transformed; but alsopost-feminist in the sense that in the course of this passage new objects have been configured that the old feminism could not have seen, or recognized.

It is in this kind of postfeminist moment that I locate my presentation today.