Feminism and the Socialist Tradition ... Undone? A Response to Recent Work by Judith Butler

McRobbie, Angela. 2004. Feminism and the Socialist Tradition ... Undone? A Response to Recent Work by Judith Butler. Cultural Studies, 18(4), pp. 503-522. ISSN 0950-2386 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article proposes that Butler's recent writing encourages understanding of an intersection of forces, specifically the undoing of feminism and the socialist tradition. This occurs as the traces or residues left behind by these now outmoded movements are seemingly taken into account, so that they are all the more repudiated and discounted. Re-regulation takes place by these means in the fields of sexuality and kinship. There is also a crisis in the politics of hegemony through processes of disarticulation, as queer politics breaks its earlier ties with socialist feminism through narrowly presenting claims of entitlement in terms of being for (or against) marriage. If radical democracy is itself radically insufficient (so that it remains open and necessarily unrealizable), nonetheless this produces vulnerabilities. Butler leads us in this context towards Levinasian ethics, as both other than and prior to politics. This permits, through the encounter with the face of the other, a steadfastness and defiant presence and proximity in terms of being for the other, while that other – for example, the woman of Afghanistan – is being sought as the subject of liberation by western hegemony. Thus, ethics can be expansive of the ‘sheerly political’.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


July 2004Published

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Date Deposited:

27 Oct 2015 10:21

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 14:44

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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