Essence of Culture and a Sense of History: A Feminist Critique of Cultural Essentialism

Hypatia A Journal of Feminist Philosophy (Impact Factor: 0.25). 04/1998; 13(2):86 - 106. DOI: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.1998.tb01227.x

ABSTRACT Drawing parallels between gender essentialism and cultural essentialism, I point to some common features of essentialist pictures of culture. 1 argue that cultural essentialism is detrimental to feminist agendas and suggest strategies for its avoidance, Contending that some forms of cultural relativism buy into essentialist notions of culture, I argue that postcolonial feminists need to be cautious about essentialist contrasts between “Western” and “Third World” cultures.

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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we use insights from postcolonial feminism to explore the identity narratives of three Muslim businesswomen of Turkish descent in the Netherlands. We identify some of the ways in which contemporary political discourse in the Netherlands constructs Muslim ‘Others’ and discuss how this discursive positioning impacts on the multiple identities these women create for themselves in response. Postcolonial feminism challenges the discursive and material relations of both patriarchy and Eurocentric feminisms, which work together to obscure the rich diversity of women's lived experiences, their agency and identities. By exploring how Othering impacts on these women's multiple identities, we aim to enrich understandings of women's migrant entrepreneurship. These identity narratives, shared by women who each describe quite different ways of experiencing, interpreting and responding to marginalization, shed light on the West's relationship to the Other and reveal some of the underlying relations of power that shape identity.
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    ABSTRACT: This paper joins the ongoing conversation about the desirability, or undesirability, of feminists becoming “new institutionalists”, which is linked to broader concerns about feminists seeking legitimacy as political “scientists”. With “feminist discursive institutionalism” as exemplar, it introduces the argument that paradigms, and hence methodologies, matter politically because they create different realities. To illustrate this proposition it examines the political implications of the different meanings of discourse, and related concepts of power, ideas, and “agency”/subjectivity, in Habermasian-influenced discursive institutionalism and in Foucauldian- inspired poststructuralist analysis. A key issue, it contends, is the extent to which institutions (and other political categories) are conceptualized as discrete entities or as more open-ended “assemblages”. This analysis, we suggest, solicits feminist researchers to reflect on the political implications of their theoretical investments.
    NORA Nordic Journal of Women s Studies 07/2014; 22(3).


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