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January 2022

Grounding agency in depth: The implications of Merleau-Ponty's thought for the politics of feminism

Journal/Book: Hum Stud. 1996; 19: Spuiboulevard 50, PO Box 17, 3300 AA Dordrecht, Netherlands. Kluwer Academic Publ. 175-184.

Abstract: While poststructuralist feminist theorists have clarified our understanding of the gendered subject as produced through a matrix of language, culture, and psyche-sexual affects, they have found agency difficult to ground. I argue that this is because in these theories the body has served primarily as an inscribed surface. In response to this surface body, particular to this age, I have turned to Merleau-Ponty's concept of depth which allows us to theorize the agency crucial to feminist politics. While the poststructuralists' rejection of depth is largely due to its roots in Cartesian rationality, depth is much more than this. Rather than allowing for the impossibility of political action, depth means that as bodily moving and acting subjects we are part of Being, and thus part of the questions raised in this age, even if it is a mark of this age that this tends to be forgotten.

Note: Article H Fielding, York Univ, Programme Social & Polit Thought, N York, on M3J 1P3, Canada

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