Nomadic Subjects

Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory, Second Edition

rosi braidotti
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 2
Pages: 352
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    Nomadic Subjects
    Book Description:

    For more than fifteen years, Nomadic Subjectshas guided discourse in continental philosophy and feminist theory, exploring the constitution of contemporary subjectivity, especially the concept of difference within European philosophy and political theory. Rosi Braidotti's creative style vividly renders a productive crisis of modernity. From a feminist perspective, she recasts embodiment, sexual difference, and complex concepts through relations to technology, historical events, and popular culture.

    This thoroughly revised and expanded edition retains all but two of Braidotti's original essays, including her investigations into epistemology's relation to the "woman question;" feminism and biomedical ethics; European feminism; and the possible relations between American feminism and European politics and philosophy. A new piece integrates Deleuze and Guattari's concept of the "becoming-minoritarian" more deeply into modern democratic thought, and a chapter on methodology explains Braidotti's methods while engaging with her critics. A new introduction muses on Braidotti's provocative legacy.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51526-9
    Subjects: Philosophy, Language & Literature, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    This new edition of Nomadic Subjects, fifteen years after its original publication, indicates that both the nomadic predicament and its multiple contradictions have truly come of age. At the start of the third millennium, a diffuse sort of nomadism has become a relevant condition for a great deal of the world’s denizens. Furthermore, after thirty years of poststructuralist, postcolonial, and feminist debates for, against, or undecided on the issue of the “nonunitary”—split, in-process, knotted, rhizomatic, transitional, nomadic—subject, issues of fragmentation, complexity, and multiplicity have become household names in critical theory. The ubiquitous nature of these notions, however, and...

  5. one By Way of Nomadism
    (pp. 21-68)

    My project of feminist nomadism traces more than an intellectual itinerary; it also reflects the existential situation as a multicultural individual, a migrant who turned nomad. The material gathered here was first conceptualized and in some cases expressed in several different European languages over fifteen years ago. These essays accompany, precede, and prolong the ideas expressed in my book Patterns of Dissonance (1991, second edition in 1996) which is itself representative of my nomadic existence. First drafted in French, it had to be translated, but in the final version I rewrote it extensively directly in English, so that by the...

  6. two Contexts and Generations
    (pp. 69-90)

    As a first-generation poststructuralist who was initiated into these philosophies by those who founded them, I shall not even attempt to deny that I am approaching feminist theory as a philosopher trained in Paris in the late seventies by Deleuze, Lyotard, Foucault, and Irigaray. I belong therefore to the tail end what is often described as “la génération des rendez-vous manqués,” or the generation of missed chances, who experienced in real-time the legacy of the momentous events of the 1968 era. As a consequence, I consider “1968” to be the fundamental political myth of my generation, namely, the event that...

  7. three Sexual Difference Theory
    (pp. 91-115)

    Luce Irigaray is by far the most philosophical of the French poststructuralist feminist theorists and the influence of her work in the Englishspeaking world is the most enduring. I distinguish three different phases in her work: the first one produces the texts that I consider her masterpieces, Speculum of the Other Woman and This Sex Which Is not One, and it focuses on the potential for transformation contained by the feminine as the sociosymbolic location of privileged otherness. This feminine is a complex and multilayered location and not an immutable and given essence; I refer to this concept and this...

  8. four On the Female Feminist Subject: From “She-Self” to “She-Other”
    (pp. 116-136)

    The story takes place at the top of a top building in one of the many metropolises that constitute our planet. The event itself occurs in the furthermost room of this spacious apartment, which is also the humblest, being the maid’s quarters. The spatial metaphor is all-pervading in the text. The character sees her dwelling as her bodily self, defining the maid’s room as “the womb of my building” (Lispector 1978). This space is compared to the top of a mountain or the tip of a minaret: it is a microcosm endowed with a heightened level of intensity, of depth....

  9. five Sexual Difference as a Nomadic Political Project
    (pp. 137-165)

    As I have stated before, the nomadic subject I am defending is a new figuration of subjectivity in a multidifferentiated nonhierarchical way. In this chapter I will explore more specifically how this vision of the subject intersects with the axis of sexual difference. I agree with Luce Irigaray that sexual difference is the question that we early twenty-first-century Westerners are historically bound to struggle with: it is our horizon and our utopia. The two main reasons for this have to do with the role played by difference in European history and the very specific place it occupies in feminist practice....

  10. six Organs Without Bodies
    (pp. 166-188)

    Considering the biotechnological structure of our scientific culture and the crucial role played by biogenetics in advanced capitalism, a feminist critic cannot avoid a confrontation with science and technology studies. In Foucault’s inception of the term, I see the social critic and the intellectual as a technician of practical knowledge: an analyst of the complex and ever-shifting ways in which the technologies of formation, discipline, and control of the embodied self—the corpo-r(e) ality of the subject—intersect with the web of micro-and macro-instances that govern the production of discourses socially, recognized as “true” and scientifically “valid.”

    Foucault (Dreyfuss and...

  11. seven Images Without Imagination
    (pp. 189-212)

    In this chapter I would like to delve further into some of the issues involved in the visualization and medicalization of the female reproductive body I discussed in the previous chapter, by situating them within the area of contemporary feminist theories of political and epistemological subjectivity. A basic point of reference in the structuring of the contemporary “subject” is outlined in Michel Foucault’s idea of embodiment or of bodily materiality. The materialism of the flesh, as I stated in the previous chapter, defines the embodied subject as “organs without bodies,” i.e., as the concrete effect and also as one of...

  12. eight Mothers, Monsters, and Machines
    (pp. 213-244)

    The configuration of ideas I am trying to set up in this chapter—mothers, monsters, machines—is a case study, and not only because of its propositional content (Braidotti 1989a:89–105) but also in methodological terms. Adapting a nomadic methodology to the study of the biosciences, I would like to define my speaking stance as “rhizomatic.” That is to say, it is not linear, but multifocal and transversal—nor is it only cerebral; but rather related to experience, which implies a strengthened connection between thought and life, a renewed proximity of the thinking process to existential reality (de Lauretis 1984;...

  13. nine Discontinuous Becomings: Deleuze on the Becoming-Woman of Philosophy
    (pp. 245-262)

    This chapter expands in new but parallel directions the discussion of identity, sexuality, and sexual difference. I will argue that most of the uses Deleuzian philosophy is put to are still polemical and ambivalent toward feminist theory, especially among his—mostly male—followers. Yet there is a growing corpus of Deleuzian feminism that is taking shape with remarkable rigor. I will consequently situate Deleuze’s work so as to clarify the many positive uses his philosophy can be put to for feminist purposes. Deleuzian feminism does not start from the psychoanalytic premise of the feminine as symbolic absence at all. On...

  14. ten Envy and Ingratitude: Men in Feminism
    (pp. 263-282)

    In spite of my commitment to joyful, positive affirmation of alternative values, according to the Dionysian spirit of nomadic philosophy, there are times when a dose of resentful criticism appears as irresistible as it is necessary. Such is the case whenever I cast an ironic glance at “male-stream” poststructuralist philosophy. The question I will start of with is what is the position of men in feminism. How does the nomadic feminist look upon this issue? There is something both appealing and suspect in the notion of “men in feminism,” like many of the other contributors, my gaze lingers on the...

  15. eleven Conclusion: Geometries of Passion—A Conversation with Rosi Braidotti
    (pp. 283-294)
    Rutvica Andrijasevic and Rosi Braidotti

    Rutvica Andrijasevic: Your work on sexual difference and embodiment is of key importance for feminism, and it made you into one of the most influential thinkers in contemporary feminist theory. The articulation of new figurations of subjectivity is where your theoretical and political passion lies. Yet you have not been really outspoken on the issue of sexuality and, in particular, lesbian sexuality. Is there a reason for this?

    Rosi Braidotti: You may be right—I am not very keen to hold a public discourse about sexuality, and many commentators on my work have criticized me for it. Yet my lifestyle...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 295-298)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 299-318)
  18. Index
    (pp. 319-332)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 333-334)