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- Author: Ewa Plonowska Ziarek x
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This chapter addresses the limitations of contemporary debates on ethics and democracy. It discusses the notion of heteronomous freedom and its relation to ethical obligation, political antagonism and sexual difference. It proposes a feminist democratic praxis and an ethics of dissensus, which opposes the conservative political work performed by privatized moral discourse and is inseparable from transformative praxis which aims to change unjust power relations and to acknowledge infinite responsibility for violence and the oppression of others. This chapter argues that the effectiveness of democratic struggles against racist and sexist oppression depend on an ethical-political understanding of freedom that side-steps the seemingly intractable debate between the two positions available today: the liberal position that seeks normative criteria for the determination of political justice beyond difference and the communitarian position that advocates the continued contestation or negotiation of heterogeneous forces based on an ethical obligation to the other.
Rita Felski associates the project of feminist aesthetics with a desire to ascribe immanent gendered meanings to literary forms and styles, and thus with a problematic conflation of literary and political values. The ambiguity of mimetic semblance is compounded by its subtext of racist fantasies. Like Theodor Adorno, Homi Bhabha argues that the contradictory political regulation of mimetic semblance is motivated by the fear and subjugation of alterity. The central figures of the political regulation are paranoid projection, Negrophobia and the abjection of the black body. By reading Adorno, Joan Riviere, Bhabha and Frantz Fanon together, the chapter shows that the new psychic economies and social regulations of mimetic semblance in modernity provide a dubious and ideologically suspect alternative to instrumental rationality. Riviere focuses on the case of the white, intellectual, ambiguously homosexual woman.