International and Intercultural Studies (Pitzer)
agency, complicity, location politics, Mohanty (Chandra Talpade), Spivak (Gayatri Chakravorty), the Other
In feminist circles agency is often opposed to complicity and associated with resistance to sexism and patriarchy, yet such binary oppositions make the political stakes of their presumed boundaries difficult to interrogate. By bringing location politics into dialogue with agency theory, boundaries of same/Other and location categories may move from a naturalized ground for political work to the contested center of a politics of resistance. I follow a Foucauldian interpretation of agency to reconsider the ethico-politics of established divisions of self and Other both individually and in terms of social movements. By following Gayatri Spivak, Meyda Yeğenoğlu, and Chandra Mohanty's transnational feminist politics, I argue for the refusal of totalizing binaries and for careful attention to unavoidable complicities. This makes possible practices of agency that can critique the political and ethical limits and effects of its epistemology and take as its central project the intervention into appropriations of the Others into modern notions of the "real." The resulting reconstitution of self-Other relations in their work opens up important new avenues for building social movements that acknowledge difference within the subject or the movement rather than deny and expel their Others.
© 2012 Joseph D. Parker
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Parker, Joe. “Questioning Appropriation: Agency and Complicity in a Transnational Feminist Location Politics.” Journal of Feminist Scholarship, vol. 3, no. 3, 2012, pp. 1–18.