From its founding, women’s and gender studies developed along a transatlantic epistemological and geopolitical axis. An interdisciplinary field, it fostered difficult conversations among disciplines that had each developed its own conceptual language. Women’s and gender studies is thus centrally concerned with crossing(s), whether crossing(s) functions as a political goal, a meta-metaphor for the field’s variegated theoretical endeavor, or as the name of a multifaceted epistemological problem. This essay focuses on the problem of translation as a form and act of crossing in the geopolitical context of globalization. It asks whether translation, a neohumanist practice of transnational exchange premised on the irreducibility of idioms and the hospitality to differences, can withstand the homogenizing pull of globalization. And it asks what the collapse of differences might do to an intellectual, political, and social field whose very raison d’être has been and continues to be the excavation of unrecognized or unwanted differences and the promotion of plurality.
In the spring of 2014, the Centre d’études féminines et d’études de genre (Center for Women’s and Gender Studies) at the University of Paris 8 Vincennes–Saint-Denis celebrated its fortieth anniversary. Among the many events that took place on this occasion, an international conference was convened titled (in French) the International Springtime of Gender: The Scientific and Political Stakes of the Institutionalization and the Internation-alization of a Field (Le printemps international du genre).1 What prompted us at the University of Paris 8 to organize a conference on institutionalization, internationalization, and their vexed relation today was the pressure of a triple context: institutional, indeed, but also more broadly political and intellectual, and inextricably so.
As astonishing as it must always have been for u.s.-based scholars and activists in these areas, given the role that “French thought” played in the intellectual constitution of the field, gender studies in France was only recognized as a legitimate field of study worthy of state support and inclusion in the national curriculum in the last few years. As a result, several new programs, new research units, and one cnrs (National Center for Scientific Research)-backed national research network have recently sprung up.2
The Centre d’études féminines et d’études de genre (cefeg) was created at Paris 8 Vincennes in 1974 by Hélène Cixous. At the time, the program was simply named Études féminines; it was the first and oldest doctoral program in women’s studies in France and as far as we know in Europe. The Centre soon became internationally renowned, but it had a bumpy and fragile institutional life at both the local and the national levels until the field as a whole received an official stamp. The reasons for the stubborn resistance of the French academy to the inclusion of a women’s and/or gender and sexuality studies curriculum are manifold and well known to feminist scholars familiar with France. In a nutshell, the French tradition of state centralism has made it very difficult for local or idiosyncratic initiatives to prosper and gain national acceptance. This same state centralism has always worked to curtail academic institutional and scientific freedom; in particular, it has slowed down efforts to broaden or renew academic curricula unless they are spearheaded from the top down. Finally, the widely shared distrust across the political spectrum toward any initiative—political, intellectual, or institutional—that appears to question the abstract unity of the Republic and the ideal of (French) universalism has meant that any attempt, academic or otherwise, to emphasize the predicament of specific groups or segments of society, be they women, sexual minorities, or so-called ethnic minorities, was met with hostility.
As it celebrated its fortieth anniversary, the cefeg was in the middle of a local overhaul prompted by the new opportunities afforded by national recognition. While this new state benevolence under the guidance of the center-left government was ushering in an era of unprecedented academic prosperity for the field of gender studies, a battle was raging in the larger public sphere. The center-left government was trying to follow through with its electoral promise to legalize same-sex marriage and to expand homosexual parenting rights. These measures were met with unexpected hostility in a country known for its sexual liberalism. Throughout the year 2013, huge popular demonstrations were organized against the Mariage pour tous proposition by a coalition of rightist activists as well as revivified Catholic traditionalists. A counterrevolution seemed to be on the move.3 In a striking departure from traditional French political discourse, the focus of rightist discontent was cultural rather than economic, recalling the “culture wars” that regularly flare up in the rarefied air of u.s. internal politics. This was due in large part to the fact that the center-left government looked more proactive and more likely to succeed in the realm of what Éric Fassin has called “sexual democracy” than in the area of economic redistribution and other fields of social justice (“Double-Edged”). Calling itself the “Printemps français,” the conservative response borrowed the revolutionary rhetoric and appropriated for itself the historical markers of various liberation movements. In particular, such self-naming was meant to suggest a symbolic connection with the “Arab Springs” that had just swept through the Middle East before turning into wintry nightmares. It also evoked ironically the May 1968 uprising,4 as if the “countersexual” revolution it advocated in 2013 was the belated but pointed answer to the sexual revolution unleashed in 1968. Finally, by calling itself “French,” the rightist reaction underlined its nationalist character, thus casting efforts at expanding civil rights for sexual minorities as foreign to the French national ethos. Indeed, soon after the law promulgating same-sex marriage was passed (while attempts to secure legal rights for same-sex parents were stalled by the magnitude of the opposition staged), the focus of this shrewdly engineered political unrest was displaced onto gender theory, as word was spread by a well-crafted propaganda campaign smacking of extreme-right tactics that the government was about to introduce the latter in the national education curriculum. In this instance, gender theory was clearly marked as “American” and understood to be what we might call queer. The fear was that such teachings would encourage boys to become girls and would turn innocent little beings into active practitioners of some form of sexuality studies. Thus, no sooner was gender studies fully admitted in the French academy that it became embattled in a public fight.
One has to say that the French media, left and right, had laid the ground for the branding of gender theory as American, since the former had clearly presented the belated development of gender studies in higher education as an effect of the willful Americanization of intellectual life. Gender studies was repeatedly described as “sea landing” (débarquant) in France, conjuring up images of the landing of u.s. soldiers come to save Europe in 1944.
All this was also happening in the context of what looked like an inversion of the respective positions held by France and the United States in the realm of academic and more broadly intellectual relations. Between the late sixties and the first years of the twenty-first century, food for thought was massively imported from France by the u.s. academy. As many among the most important representatives of “French thought” died and the intellectual effervescence of the sixties slowly dwindled, France ceased to be the main exporter of ideas worldwide. Plagued by economic recession and self-doubt, suffering the consequences of what postcolonial scholars have called (all the while rightly calling for it) the “provincialization of Europe,” and engaged, for the first time in the long history of the French academy, in the global race for the market retailing of knowledge and education, France started avidly to import its intellectual nourishment from the United States. It did so not only in the realm of what came to be recognized and accepted exclusively under the heading of “gender studies” (more exactly, in government parlance, études sur le genre) but also, more generally, in the realms of the humanities, philosophy (with the spread of analytic philosophy in continental Europe), and cognitive sciences.
True, the work of the u.s.-based feminist and postfeminist thinkers, which, by the end of the first decade of our century, made up the bulk of suggested (or compulsory) reading in gender studies in France as well as in other parts of the world, bore the marks of the forceful inscriptions in French that had helped shape it. True again, the two most widely spoken languages of the so-called feminism of the second wave were French and English, whether they were used alternately or at the same time, ever since Simone de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex in the wake of her stay in “America.” But by then, French scholars and activists spoke feminist and postfeminist English more fluently than they did feminist French, with the full acclimation of gender and the wide use in French and in some French metropolitan circles of untranslated English terms such as queer and its lexical kin or, in another area of lively feminist concern, the word care.
It is in this multilayered context that the conference in which the contributors of this issue of differences participated took place. It is owing to the political and intellectual ambiance briefly described that we decided to name the event “The International Springtime of Gender.”
A number of prominent scholars in the field of gender and sexuality studies attended the conference. They came from different parts of the world (Africa, North America, South America, northern and southern Europe, western Asia); they had different disciplinary training and areas of expertise (anthropology, art history, history, literature, philosophy, sociology, feminist theory); and they belonged to different generations. By different generations, I don’t mean only or primarily biological age differences, although whether one had reached adulthood or acquired some form of feminist consciousness in the seventies or later does matter in ways I will address below. More important still, “generations” are a matter of intellectual and affective affiliations, of the nature and depth of the historical experience, of the constitution, transmission (or failure of transmission), and claiming of shared narratives.
Finally, most of the guest participants (only some of whom we were able to include in this issue) had been or were still involved in institution building in major ways and had, therefore, a firsthand experience and role in the shaping and/or handling of the institutionalization of our field. Delphine Gardey has been the director of the young Gender Studies Program at the University of Geneva for the past five years. Miriam Pillar Grossi was, at the time of the conference, the director of the Institute for Gender Studies of the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil. Clare Hemmings had cochaired the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Ranjana Khanna directed the Women’s Studies Program at Duke University for nine years. Tuija Pulkkinen is president of the Finnish Association for Gender Studies and was then also directing the national Doctoral Program of Gender Studies. Marta Segarra had founded and was the longtime director of the Centre Dona i Literatura of the University of Barcelona. Fatou Sarr Sow is founding director of the first research unit in gender studies (Laboratoire Genre et Recherche Scientifique) of the University Cheikh Anta Diop at Dakkar. Mara Viveros was a founding member of the School of Gender Studies at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá. And Elizabeth Weed is the cofounding editor of differences and was a longtime director of the Pembroke Center at Brown University. As for Pinar Selek, a Turkish feminist sociologist involved in both pro-Kurdish and prosexual minorities activities who had to flee her country after being tried and jailed on false grounds, she wasn’t given the time or opportunity to contribute to the establishment of women’s, feminist, or gender studies in Turkey.
The question of the local forms and effects of the institutionalization of the field of gender studies is a familiar one by now. It has been pondered over time and again, especially in places such as the u.s. and northern Europe where the fields of women’s and/or gender studies and, soon after, of sexuality and sexual minorities’ studies (lgbtq+) were allowed to develop and gained wide acceptance relatively quickly and easily compared to most other places. How can it still be of interest today for an anglophone, let alone North American, audience? What more can be argued on the topic since Nancy Miller and Peggy Kamuf debated the effect and import of dragging the signifier woman to the center of academic inquiry in the late seventies and Derrida discussed the institutionalization of women’s studies at one of its buzzing u.s. locations in the early eighties (“Women”)? What else can be said in defense of the academic legitimacy of sexuality studies since the publication of the Routledge Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader in 1993? As for the question of the modes and meaning of the internationalization of the field and, more specifically, of the relation between academic recognition and internationalization in the global geopolitical context, it is a major one indeed, which both transnational feminist theorists and postcolonial feminist scholars have attempted to address many times. But why choose to raise it now from the particular site of Paris 8 Vincennes, on the particular occasion of the anniversary of its longtime Centre, when it might be more interesting or at least more truly unsettling to ask it from the vantage point of, say, a Chinese or Indonesian academic institution? To put the question plainly, then, why bother to feature the partial proceedings of this event in an issue of differences?
Obviously, I can’t answer the question in the place of the journal’s editorial board. But here is my guess: in the history of “second-wave” Western feminism and its aftermath(s), the Paris 8 Vincennes Centre functions as a nexus of iconic references, topoi, and issues. I have already, inevitably, named some of them: “French thought,” “French feminism(s),” the Anglo-French (or Franco-American) invention of “feminist theory,” as well as their postcolonial reinflection or redeployment or sometimes contestation when seen from the u.s. academy.5
Then there are the potential intellectual benefits afforded by the celebration of an anniversary. On such occasion, one is invited to look backward in order to look forward in a self-reflexive gesture that is (or appears to be) thoroughly theoretical in the contemporary sense of the term.6 The mood, in this case, is most often double, at once exhilarated and melancholic: the evocation of beginnings is an ambiguous game, haunted as it always is by the fear or the feeling of an end to come. In a personal exchange we had after the event, Elizabeth Weed cleverly remarked to me on the paradoxical coupling of “old institutional age” (forty-plus years) and springtime, remembrance and emergence, mourning and expecting that characterized the staging of this event. Were we joining the crowd of tired scholars and activists, mainly North American for the time being, who have been announcing the end of feminist theory or gender studies, sometimes even the now cumbersome irrelevance of feminism itself, for almost twenty years now, followed in the last ten years by a sizable number of early practitioners and advocates of queer theory who are now equally worrying about the latter’s future? And if so, what internal political and/or intellectual difficulties are prompting this pessimistic outlook and sometimes self-berating attitude on the part of the field(s)’ practitioners? Or were we singing a somewhat different tune, owing to the peculiar timing of the blooming of gender studies in France and the particular setting of the University of Paris 8 Vincennes, ensconced as it is in the devastated social landscape of a northern “multicultural” banlieue (Saint-Denis) whose social complexities and intellectual yearnings it has been in part trying to address, ever since it was chased out of the semiwild woods of Vincennes?
Anniversaries have become (all too) frequent occurrences in academic and intellectual life in general, whatever the occasion, the field, or the characters involved. Because such rituals are also, today, whether their planners like it or not, advertising tools and exercises in self-promotion, and because they are for that reason unavoidably participating in the com-modification of memorialization, they can serve unwittingly to consolidate fictions, adding intellectual commodity fetishism to the inherent risks of forgetfulness, erasure, self-deception, and self-mythologization that threaten the most genuine efforts to do justice to one’s past and to further one’s self-understanding. But since the Paris 8 Centre underwent many near-deaths and had to reinvent itself several times, both intellectually and institutionally in the course of its eventful and shaky life, and since its life span corresponds roughly to the life span of the field as a whole, then such an occasion might still offer a meaningful opportunity to reflect not only on an already long, multigenerational history, with its own internal waves, shifts, and breaks, but above all, on the ways this history is done, told, passed on, or not.
Finally, I suspect that differences was seized by an unheimlich feeling of recognition in a place, Paris, that functions somewhat for the field like Rome for Freud or perhaps New York for the inventor of deconstruction. If young women academics in France who were taking part in the mlf (the French Women’s Liberation Movement) in the early seventies were inspired at that time by the u.s.-based initiatives to create research and teaching programs in women’s studies, the journal differences, for its part, was born in the late eighties out of the encounter of “American” academic feminism(s) and more generally u.s.-based humanities with French theory and, more specifically, the so-called French feminism(s). And just as the journal’s policy since its inception has been to trace and welcome all the theoretical trends of Western-based feminism and postfeminism in order to foster a dialogue among them, the Centre has always sheltered, sometimes uneasily but enduringly, different theoretical and political positions, even when the emphasis in its midst is clearly (or so it appears to be) on one side or the other of the multilayered divide commonly indexed by references to “sexual difference” or “gender,” whether one considers this divide to be time related, epistemological, conceptual, political, idiomatic, or a little bit of all these.
The Resistance of Translation
Starting from the broad question of how institutionalization and internationalization shape and inflect each other and have affected the political and theoretical course of our field, the conference organizers, Éric Fassin and I, asked the participants of the International Springtime of Gender to reflect more precisely on the possible tensions between the demands of institutionalization and the political impetus that prompted the field into existence and that continues to fuel it. Participants were also encouraged to think about the features of the field’s internationalization. Did the latter amount to an “Americanization” of the field according to a hegemonic and/or neocolonial pattern of extension? Or could internationalization enable decentering moves, allowing different ways of conceiving the connection(s) between the local and the global, the center and the periphery, or, even better, between various forms of “locatedness” to emerge? Finally, the organizers asked how the constraints of institutionalization and the course(s) of internationalization might inflect our thinking about such important political and theoretical intersections as the ones between gender and sexuality or between sex and race. Due to sometimes small, sometimes vast differences in geopolitical locations, theoretical orientations, and vocabularies; due also to the nature and depth of historical experience, the answers provided were heterogeneous. But common worries were vented and clusters of issues could be discerned.
As I said, the commemorative dimension of the event prompted retrospective gestures and stirred recapitulative impulses. Past analytical tools and interpretive grids were probed and their continued relevance examined. Several participants expressed some form of anxious concern regarding the possible constitution of a (somewhat) accurate historical narrative and the conditions of its passing down, at least at this point in time. Many founders and witnesses of the beginnings are still around, but memory is fading while history is not yet done, at least not seriously so. Legacy is at stake, whether it is desired or rejected, actively or passively, by reluctant or eager heir(esse)s. What, then, can be transmitted and how? What prevents transmission and what enables it? Or, perhaps more accurately, what makes it at once possible and impossible? The problem of transmission, of making sense across heterogeneous times, is also, to a large degree, a problem of translation, that is, of the conditions and ways in which certain discourses and what one used to call “ideas” are made to cross borders, whether temporal or spatial, internal (intralinguistic and/or within the confines of a seemingly single context) or external (interlinguistic and/or across different contexts), thus fostering connections between heterogeneous spaces and times. All the contributors to this issue wrestled implicitly or explicitly with the question of translation and the nature of its operation(s), hence our decision to make it our framing issue.
Of course, any international scholarly endeavor, and especially one that takes internationalization as its explicit theme, is bound to encounter the problem of translation. It is our contention, however, that gender theory and the field of gender and sexuality studies as a whole have been bound up from the beginning with the question of translation in specific and intractable ways. This is so not only because the field initially developed along a transatlantic epistemological and geopolitical axis, or because its current extension is taking place in the context of what one calls globalization, or because it was immediately constituted as an interdisciplinary field requiring and fostering difficult conversations between disciplines that had each developed their own conceptual languages, but also because it is indeed centrally concerned with “crossing(s),” whether crossing(s) functions as a political goal, a metametaphor for the field’s variegated theoretical endeavors, or as the name of a multifaceted epistemological problem, and because, in the epistemological and political history of the field, gender has not only functioned as an analytical tool but more precisely as a conversion tool in ways I will try to address shortly.
How Useful Are Dictionaries
In a twenty-first-century follow-up piece to her famous “Gender: A Useful Category of Analysis,” Joan Scott wondered whether the term gender “might not have lost its critical edge” for feminist thinking as “its meaning seemed to be able to be taken for granted,” at least, she thought, in the English-speaking world (10). Against both the conceptual reifying of gender and the suspiciously easy, if misconceived, generalization of its use beyond the confines of academic feminism, she argued in favor of continuing to put it to the test of translation. In non-English-speaking parts of the world, she wrote, gender still “provided the kind of radical interrogation associated with feminism” because of “the very difficulty of translating [it]” (10). Indeed, she continued, the “language of gender” “cannot be codified in dictionaries, nor can its meanings be easily assumed or translated” (13). Only where gender still feels foreign, then, “because it [falls] outside the national boundaries of ‘ordinary usage’” (10), might it still retain its critical power. But, we might ask, isn’t the whole world speaking English today anyway, in one form or another? And, conversely, can one assume the easy translatability of gender within the English language itself, such that an English dictionary might provide a satisfactory definition of the term for native or neonative speakers of the language? In fact, Scott makes a somewhat different kind of argument in the last part of her piece. The “language of gender,” she warns, “doesn’t reduce to some known quantity of masculine or feminine, male or female. It’s precisely the particular meanings that need to be teased out of the materials we examine” (13). The “particular meanings” of gender we need to tease out of the materials we examine do not derive their particularity from the language in which they are formed and conveyed, so much as they depend on specific or “idiolectic” uses and contextual redeployments and displacements of the term. It is those meanings that a dictionary, whether bilingual or monolingual, can never account for. “When gender is an open question about how those meanings are established, what they signify, and in what contexts, then it remains a useful—because critical—category of analysis,” Scott concludes (13). It is not enough, then, to be a native or neonative speaker of a given language, even of English as “the language of gender”; it is not enough, indeed, to be a reliable lexicographer. Only a “translator,” that is, somebody who asks her- or himself how meanings are established and what they signify in the particular context or text she or he is dealing with, might be able to trace and convey these meanings.
I don’t have the space and time to tease out the many far-reaching implications of Scott’s argument. Let me just stress that, when Scott links the critical fate and force of gender to that of translation, what she means by translation is not the ability to provide a proper equivalent based on the most general, that is, generally agreed upon and hence most widely circulating, definition of the term. Quite the contrary. The act of translation, in her view, is what resists the pull or lure of generalization. This pull is certainly reinforced by the combined forces of globalization and globlishization, but it doesn’t only happen between languages or between English and other languages. It happens within English itself. Translation, conceived here above all as an active task of detection as well as reception of “particular meanings,” is thus paradoxically an act of resistance to translatability. And when particular meanings are teased out and stressed over the general use and the unity of meaning such use presumes, the work of (un)translation also becomes inseparable from one of pluralization. Scott’s argument here is strikingly consonant with Edward Said’s definition of reading as an act of both reception and resistance—indeed, the highest form of “resistant reception”—in the service of a reformed humanism. Said calls this practice “democratic criticism,” meaning also that such practice has a political import, one that has to do with catering to a plurality of potentially divergent perspectives and especially to those with minoritarian outlooks (61–64).
In this issue, Clare Hemmings’s and Tuija Pulkkinen’s respective arguments about gender are indeed predicated on divergent understandings of the term, relying as they are on different sequences in the history of its becoming-concept. Yet, their different mobilizations of the term lead to convergent assessments, if not of the intended purpose then at least of the effect of its use. In “Is Gender Studies Singular? Stories of Queer/Feminist Difference and Displacement,” Hemmings worries about the framing of gender (hence, gender studies) as “heterosexual, the property of women, essentialist,” and sometimes even racist, by a sizeable portion of queer theorists and/or activists. She questions a certain retrospective view of gender as catering only to the political and sexual biases of heterosexual feminists or, worse, women. Finally, she challenges the casting of “gender feminism” as inherently antipleasure(s). According to her, the idea, common among queer theorists and practitioners, that “gender feminists” are stuck dealing with the dangers of sexuality while the queer feminists “have all the fun” doesn’t do justice to feminist history. Inherited from the internecine “sex wars” that paved the way for the split between gender studies and sexuality studies, such a view mistakenly presents what happened in a particular time (the eighties) and place (the u.s.) as if it were the whole picture.
Hemmings’s argument is very close in thrust and tone to the cautionary warning expressed by Biddy Martin exactly twenty years before in differences and republished in Femininity Played Straight, a testimony to the endurance of the problem raised. While Martin welcomed the queer turn (within or away from feminism, that is still a question) not only as a self-identified lesbian but as a self-critical feminist, she did question “the tendency to relegate not only femininity, but also feminism to the asexual realm of reproduction” (46). And she suggested that “we stop defining queerness as mobile and fluid in relation to what then gets construed as stagnant and ensnaring, and associated with a maternal, anachronistic, and putatively puritanical feminism” (46).
But queer discourse is in fact as varied and heterogeneous as the feminism(s) it means to question. Martin and Hemmings are aiming at those who want to do away—or believe they can do away—with gender, considered too quickly in their opinion as both a normative social category and a restrictive analytical tool. Other queer thinkers, however, foremost among them, Judith Butler, have taken a stance in favor of keeping gender alive as a descriptive category, an analytical tool, and a political lever. Indeed, a good example of a very different take on gender articulated from a queer perspective is Pulkkinen’s hopeful reflection on the pluralization of gender(s) and gender expression allowed and even encouraged by the academic legitimization of gender studies. In her paper, “Feelings of Injustice: The Institutionalization of Gender Studies and the Pluralization of Feminism,” Pulkkinen repeatedly emphasizes the role of gender and gender studies in the promotion of “all possible looks, all possible gendered and nongendered bodily expressions” (115). Expressing her faith in the future of feminism(s) thanks to the conceptual work of gender defined this time as a queer agent of pluralization, she asserts that “this multiplying of feminist gendered performances and the abundance of genders also signals the pluralization of feminisms” (118).
Both Hemmings and Pulkkinen, then, argue in favor of the pluralization of feminisms, and more specifically “gender feminisms.” But Hemmings starts from a definition of gender formulated from within the feminism of the seventies and eighties in both Great Britain and the United States, one that latched above all onto power relations between men and women understood as social categories, whereas Pulkkinen relies on the queer reformulation (and radicalization) of gender. Rather than being called upon to designate the social (hence, hierarchical) engineering of sex dualism, gender, in this case, becomes the name of what disrupts the neat and dual alignment between sex and “sexual identity.” Moreover, it is used as an “affirmative” tool, one that can help free minds and the world from the constraints of sexual binarism. Once gender is analytically severed from sex, there is indeed no reason for it to be bound anymore by and to sexual duality. In this sense, still, gender hasn’t only been a “useful category of analysis”: it has been an agent of pluralization. And it remains a conceptual lever, undoubtedly the most important one, for the queer turn taken by feminism and feminist theory, at least within academic programs in the field.
Paradoxically, this more radical (or uprooting) view of gender is also the oldest one from the point of view of a certain epistemological history. The first theorizations of the sex-gender disjunction by John Money and Robert Stoller in the fifties and sixties were meant precisely to try to account for the breaking of the alignment between sex and gender provoked, or rather revealed, by the double phenomena of intersexualism and transsexualism. And they preceded the feminist critical appropriation of the term that began in the seventies in the Western world. Today, the story of Money’s and Stoller’s invention of the concept seems to be the preferred tale of origins for gender theory circulating within the field of gender and sexuality studies, at least in the Western world. Isn’t this one more sign that gender has operated mainly as a queering agent in the course of its career?
I have emphasized gender’s central role as a conversion tool between various competing analytical frameworks and political agendas. If gender exceeds the purview of lexical definitions and conceptual unity, is sexual difference, by contrast, the monolithic notion that it is often said to be, whether it is said to constitute the “rock” of mainstream psychoanalytic thinking or the (stumbling) block of thought in all places and ages? Not according to Ranjana Khanna, at least, who, in her contribution, teases out the productive ways in which such a notion has been or could still be put to work. In her talk, Khanna recalled how, as the longtime director of women’s studies at Duke University, she had argued in favor of renaming the program “The Program for the Study of Sexual Difference.” Such a proposal was bound to be defeated in the present intellectual landscape. For Khanna, though, it was primarily intended as a reminder of the fact that sexual difference, when understood to index the sexual binary, was still either a or the common problem (or concern) for feminist and queer scholars alike, as well as transgender theorists and activists, busy as they all are trying to figure out what it is, means, or does, coming up against it or going after it. To study sexual difference doesn’t mean to try and promote one or the other of its meanings, least of all its most conservative ones. As a quasi concept, Khanna reminds us, sexual difference could in fact be put to vastly different, even contradictory, uses and could index opposite psychical and political temporalities: thus, whereas for Derrida sexual difference can never present itself—that is, be simply present—as such and should therefore never be presented as a total, easily recognizable fact of nature or culture; and whereas, in still a different way, it has yet to come through for Irigaray (I would say, in fact, that even more than sexual difference, it is heterosexuality that is “to come” for Irigaray, as preposterous as such a claim may appear to some); to the contrary, for Juliet Mitchell, sexual difference belongs to a past that lives on. According to Mitchell, sexual difference is a matrix of meaning embedded in generational transmission. The process of its transmission may be unconscious but, Mitchell argues, sexual difference is still being securely passed down according to a familial and reproductive logic (xvii–xxii), a view that Judith Butler has forcefully questioned in a recent issue of differences (“Rethinking”).
But “sexual difference” as an idiomatic formula doesn’t necessarily index the sexual binary at all. In Gayle Rubin’s vocabulary, and for a number of other queer thinkers of sexuality, sexual difference, spelled most often in the plural but sometimes also in the singular, designates the whole gamut of sexual practices, orientations, and outlooks. And although, in the anglophone world today even more perhaps than in the Francophone one, sexual difference is largely understood to hark back to the ways in which psychoanalysis has, or rather is believed to have, conceptualized the sexual binary, a closer look at the work of Freud himself might spell trouble for this neat genealogical narrative. For if Freud does write about the Unterschied der Geschlecht or even more simply about Geschlecht—a notion that, in any case, may be closer to “gender” than it is to “sex” in its purview7—the bulk of his efforts lies in uncovering and trying to explain the upsetting nature of the sexual. In most of his writings on sexuality, Freud examines the ways in which (human) sexuality as such curtails and bypasses the “biological function.” And when he uses the phrase Sexuelle Differenzen, he actually means something quite close to what queer thinkers mean, or mean to mean by it: the different psychical makeups, behaviors, and orientations with regard to sexuality, the “poly” rather than the “bi.”8
Each of the contributions I have mentioned so far testifies in one way or another to the rich and unsteady nature of our fields’ conceptual tools. Such unsteadiness of meaning ensures that “sexual difference” and “gender” remain first of all as questions, or better as questions only—as both Butler and Scott have suggested each of these notions do in strikingly similar statements9—rather than as securely established analytical tools or, worse, definitive answers. Each confirms the necessity spelled out by Scott to pay attention to “particular meanings,” that is, to resist the lure of translatability rather than draw general conclusions.
As for the institutional consequences of this predicament, the result is a chronic dissatisfaction or uneasiness with the name(s) of the field(s), an uneasiness that, in my opinion, is better addressed in the United States than in France. Intellectual wisdom, it seems to me, should consist in allowing competing vocabularies and issues, ancient or emergent, to do their work and continue to upset one another, a path that a number of programs in the United States that started as women’s studies programs have taken by renaming themselves, at various points in time, “women’s, gender, and sexuality studies,” “feminist, gender, and sexuality studies,” or whatever set of combinations they deem less unsatisfactory. True, some programs are simply named “gender studies,” while others still call themselves “women’s studies” and still others “feminist studies,” “transnational feminist studies,” and so on, but seen from France, one is struck by this ever-changing plurality of options. Meanwhile, the programs of sexuality studies have also adopted an “accretive” strategy, having grown from lgb to lgbtqi. In France, by contrast, only one denomination, études sur le genre, has finally been authorized by the state. Such a top-down policy has the felicitous and unintended result of maintaining the institutional and collaborative link between gender and sexuality studies (while, however, subsuming the latter under the former). On the other hand, it produces an illusion of unity or, worse, works to erase the memory of the past, thus hindering the work of transmission. Which brings me to my second point.
Transmission Trouble; or, The Future of Feminist Memory
The performative efficacy of gender as a conversion, hence a bridging, tool between feminist and queer theory coupled with the subsequent emergence of sexuality studies in the late twentieth century have rendered the coalition between feminists (that is, women qua feminists and feminists qua women and men) and sexual minorities both possible and necessary. One could also say that queer theory and activism have helped bring back to the fore the core concerns of the feminist struggles of the late sixties and seventies, namely, the various ways in which gender and sexuality, and more precisely gender hierarchy (as well as gender formation) and sexual oppression, are imbricated in one another. As Pulkkinen, eager to refresh our memory and redress the wrongs of partial historiography, reminds us, Sexuality has been a contested issue within the feminist movement and thought from the beginning. Indeed, the women’s liberation movements in the West were primarily sexual liberation movements, and they thought of themselves as such. The politicization of the so-called private sphere, the emphasis put on enjoyment (jouissance) in both practice and theory, the struggle for the right to a sexuality freed from the reproductive imperative by contraception and abortion, the eager cartography by women activists of their newly discovered bodies, the almost simultaneous formation of women’s groups and homosexual (both gay and lesbian) leagues of sort—all point to the early, indeed, founding articulation of the connection between gender and sexuality with its correlative issues, such as sexuality’s modes of emergence and disruption or the question of the body as a site of competing political investments.
Yet, as both Griselda Pollock and Clare Hemmings point out with a mixture of worry and regret, the story told about the advent of sexuality studies and queer theory is too often one of epistemological break as well as intellectual supersession, even of axiological (not to say moral) superiority with regard to the feminism(s) of the seventies. This story, which pits queer sexual liberationism against feminist sexual moralism, took shape, as I said, in the wake of the North American sex wars. The divide these feminist wars provoked was compounded by the aids crisis, which occurred roughly at the same time. As a result, the early history of the so-called second wave has become illegible and often simply unavailable in many gender and/or sexuality studies programs, at least in the West. According to Pollock, 1968 and its immediate aftermath function at best as a kind of primal scene— mysterious, doubted, and reimagined as such—for those who have heard about it without having witnessed it. As for Hemmings, her concern that gender is being retrospectively misread as catering to heteronormative, essentialist, or, worse, conservative tendencies when cast as the “proper” (and single) object of feminism resonates not only with Butler’s and Martin’s early warnings against such narrative reordering but also with Annamarie Jagose’s more recent criticism of attempts “to typecast feminist theory [. . .] as old-fashioned and passé, temporally quarantined from new-school queer theory” (43). Hemmings notes that the recent cooptation of feminist rhetoric by Western governments at the service of a neocolonialist agenda has thwarted feminism’s message and emancipatory thrust, making it all the more vulnerable to queer suspicion. Something similar, though, is now also happening with regard to sexual minorities’ claims. Queer forms of kinship are gaining state recognition and support in the West. New possibilities afforded by the development of various biotechnologies of procreation now make the thought of queer parenting quite imaginable, lessening in the process the proclaimed aversion toward reproductive logics and temporalities. Meanwhile, hitherto unthinkable forms of cooptation of gay politics by reactionary political forces with racist overtones have started to emerge. Both feminism and queer activism risk losing their subversive edge in the West, making it difficult for queer theory in particular to maintain “antinormativity” as its central tenet and axis of intervention.10
In their respective attempts to account for the reasons why the memory of (early) second-wave feminism has gone bad among the very people who could be expected to keep it alive or rekindle it, Pollock and Hemmings both stress the generational dynamics at work. Hemmings called an earlier version of the piece featured in this volume “From Phallic Feminist Mothers to Polymorphous Queer Children: Institutionalizing Stories of Feminist/Queer Difference,” emphasizing the familial configuration of the dispute between young(er) queer theorists and those deemed older feminists. Pollock’s plea in favor of transgenerational collaboration aims at fending off what she sees and experiences as a painful generational struggle, which may have ultimately to do less with differing political or theoretical stances than with mother/daughter conflict and rivalry. The very notion of “waves” adopted by feminism to account for the history of its irregular appearances on, and disappearances from, the world stage hurts us, she says, because a wave always rushes to cover up the ground gained and erases past traces. In Pollock’s view, the wave allegorizes, perhaps unwittingly but in any case unfortunately, the active and deadly work of forgetting that feminists should precisely strive against. What, then, would the preservation or fostering of a feminist memory look (or sound) like? Pollock calls for a nonlinear and nonteleological understanding of history, which would resist thinking of the future as what comes out of a necessary overcoming of the past by the present, by allowing different temporalities (the lingering, the emergent, the not yet there, etc.) to coexist. She sketches the lineaments of a transgenerational ethics that would involve a double commitment to transmission and education as well as an openness to what is coming on the part of the older generations, while younger generations might cultivate respect for and fidelity (however impious) to both what and who has come before. In other words, both Hemmings and Pollock look for ways of dealing with legacy, debt, and inheritance that would avoid the double pitfall of dutiful subservience to tradition and received wisdom, on the one hand, and of blindness to (or resentment toward) the specters that continue to haunt, indeed make up, our present, on the other. Both feminist scholars warn, each in their own way, against the at once Hegelian and Oedipal pattern(s) in which intergenerational relations among feminists remain too often caught. It is not enough to deconstruct the Hegelian dialectic and the properly familial dynamics of the power struggle it both stages and enacts, as we might do in our classes. Nor should we content ourselves to question the universal relevance of the Oedipus myth for psychoanalysis. Indeed, it takes more work than words to escape their grip. Of course, such a predicament is not specific to feminism and its history. But this is a reminder that self-proclaimed radicality doesn’t suffice to exempt oneself from the most entrenched patterns and ordinary workings of historical processes.
So what can and should be done? At some point, when this whole historical and intellectual sequence recedes into the folds of a remote past, when the current conversation between the recently gone, the still alive, and the future bygones takes place only among the shadows of the dead, when it won’t be a question of witnessing, of divergent experiences, and of living or faulty memory, different stories will come out and history will be made all over. It is also worth noting that, in places where gender studies had a late beginning (for instance in Spain, or in Columbia), due to particular political and institutional histories, the feeling may be different: The nineties may not feel like they have superseded the seventies. There may not be older generations left to feel that they have been forgotten or are being misrepresented. Feminist and queer theories may be received and studied at the same time by both scholars and students. As a result, the generational drama might not play itself out and be experienced in the same way. Hence, the decisive importance of location and local temporalities, of what Hemmings calls “the stakes of locatedness” in the consideration of the effects and modalities of the institutionalization and internationalization of the field.
Meanwhile, Hemmings, Pollock, but also Gardey all place their hopes for a feminist act of transmission in what we could call the spatial unraveling of the historical dialectic.11 Pollock dreams of the (re)constitution of the field of feminist studies as an open space with multiple points of entrance that would enable the peaceful cohabitation rather than the contentious succession of generations. Psychoanalysis teaches us that processes of identification, being predicated on the child/parent bond, are embedded in vertical structures of relations marked by the power differential between generations as well as by rivalry between siblings for the love of the parents. Pollock tries to imagine other patterns of identification between fellow feminists, ones that would make possible the space-sharing she yearns for, whatever the point in time at which a group or an individual might join the cause and/or enter the field. Hemmings questions the Hegelian view of human time as indexing the progress of spirit. This view, still the most commonly held in spite of evidence, tends to construe temporal succession as historical supersession. One should, instead, Hemmings argues, consider “Sedgwick or Rubin not as ‘coming after’ feminist or gay and lesbian singularity, but as participating in spaces of debate about gender and sexuality that are ongoing.”12 As for Gardey, in a striking move for a historian, she also drops the temporal axis in favor of the spatial one and insists, in the wake of Derrida, that feminist transmission can only happen when the paradoxical “territories” of its occurrence are configured as hospitable grounds. The notion of hospitality modifies our understanding of the “home” and “the ground”: once it lets the stranger in, the home becomes not only a shelter, an asylum—thus suspending the distinction between private and public, the domestic and the political—but an extraterritorial entity that doesn’t obey the law of borders, be they national or otherwise. But the necessarily mutual crossing of borders between the guest and the host in the opening of the space of hospitality—whether these borders are external or internal, recognizable according to political conventions or, on the contrary, difficult to locate, even admit—doesn’t mean that all differences are erased. There is in fact no act and no experience of hospitality without the experience and acceptance of difference, sometimes even radical difference. To put it in a different way, the stranger as such always speaks a foreign language, hence Gardey’s insistence at several points in the course of her meditation on the disruptive and possibly transformative force of foreign utterances, of linguistic performances that attest to the “absolute” and singular “locatedness” of their site of enunciation. While Gardey, in a move long familiar to postcolonial theorists, advocates hybridization and forcefully demands at one point that feminism(s) speak(s) the Creolized language of truly offered and/or experienced hospitality, she mostly emphasizes the magnitude of the task of translation entailed by the feminist hospitable extraterritoriality she wishes for. And she does this with a form of endearing optimism that is itself as welcoming as it is refreshing, unencumbered as it is in her case by nostalgic remembrance of more joyous times.
As I wrote earlier, transmission is a form of translation and vice versa. Like translation, transmission aims at crossing a gap, at building bridges, at fostering connections. The gap transmission tries to bridge between generations is temporal. Translation, for its part, operates on a horizontal level, even when it strives to make available, in the same time and space, formulations that might belong to different times as well as locations. Between real strangers, however, as Derrida has taught us to consider, translation is both necessary and impossible, and all the more necessary because it is impossible. And because translation stems precisely from the recognition of the unbridgeable gap of difference and the irreducibility of idioms, because the contexts of reception necessarily alter the meaning of the “source” message, translation as transmission can only fail or stray in certain respects. Still, for all the complications Derrida and a number of translation theorists have alerted us to, something happens in and thanks to translation that may open paths and change hearts as well as landscapes, because, as a task taken on deliberately, it involves the act of reading and the active work of reception. Whether it is an individual endeavor or a collective one or both, translation is a responsive act in the most literal sense, an answer to the call of the other that mobilizes subjectivity as responsibility. This may be the reason why Walter Benjamin stressed not the work of translation itself but indeed the (almost moral) task of the translator.
But does—or can—translation remain the work of the translator(s) today, that is, the responsive act of a reader (or a group of readers) who at once welcomes and resists, consciously or not, the stranger text’s pull? In other words, is there still a future for Said’s democratic criticism? Or has translation, that is, the concerted effort to preserve or even mark out differences (that is, “particular meanings”) and foster pluralism through multilateral exchanges, merely become a wishful trope, desperately held on to by the humanists’ endangered species?
Elizabeth Weed’s forceful plea against “The Lure of the Postcritical” does not provide direct answers, but it can help us take the question further.
The Mime, the Meme, and the Market
Weed’s essay has many layers. She worries about the forsaking of critical theory that she sees or thinks she sees happening in recent trends in the humanities. Seasoned practitioners of deconstruction are turning against it. Hermeneutical approaches that aim to decipher hidden mechanisms are dropped in favor of “surface reading.” One doesn’t bother anymore to try and uncover the insidious workings of ideology, presumably because these workings are not dissimulated anymore and there’s nothing one can do about them anyway. These reactive trends could be read again as exemplifying the Oedipal pattern of disaffiliation with, and supersession of, previous generations I have already talked about in the light of Pollock’s and Hemmings’s expressed concerns. But Weed is not interested in tracking the vicissitudes of generational transmission. Rather, she is intent on figuring out what late capitalism and its dominant feature or effect, namely, globalization, are doing to critical thinking. Marx and Freud, the most insightful thinkers of early capitalism, forged analytical tools and offered interpretations that aimed at understanding the world and resisting its course in the same thrust. By contrast, today’s thinking, according to Weed, at least in the areas she is dealing with, tends, however unwittingly, to espouse rather than oppose the spirit of (late) capitalism. What might be happening in the realm of the humanities, hence also in feminist theory, is a weakening of what I have called the resistance of translation.
To make her point, Weed focuses on the contemporary theoretical uses and cultural import of a notion that was theorized by both Marx and Freud but has gained ever greater theoretical and cultural currency today: that of fetishism. The word fetish, she reminds us, was coined by Portuguese merchants to designate the idols, the fake gods, that some of the exotic people they encountered in their faraway search for new commercial venues worshipped. Indeed, fetish (fetisso) literally means fake, fictitious, factitious, fabricated, fashioned. Fetishism, in both its Marxian and Freudian senses, is thus a manifestation of what we could call the “prosthetic drive” of modern and contemporary culture, the drive not only to master nature but to replace it with artifacts, fabricated objects, or technological processes. This is precisely what Marx said capitalism was striving to do. Weed alerts us, then, to the potential political and intellectual complications that might arise from the subsequent realization that twentieth-century feminist theory, with its strong antinaturalist bent, and even more queer theory, with its embrace of fetishist practices and fake godes (“gode” is the French abbreviated word for dildo) that belie the alleged naturalness of sexuality, might well partake of the very same drive that fuels the capitalistic rush. In other words, late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century feminist and queer thought may be “framed” by the spirit of capitalism in intractable ways. Not that Weed advocates a (re)turn to nature, a move that would be equally illusionary, if in a different way. Rather, since, as she writes, “we are all practiced fetishists,” she advises us to practice a kind of self-reflexive fetishism, one that would be driven (but also perhaps derailed) by the knowing resistance to its own power (170).
Weed shrewdly links the fetish with another metonymic figure for the pervasiveness of late capitalism’s processes: the globe. Globalization, that is, market-driven international exchange and enforced interdependency, has turned the world into a globe: a “sphere that forecloses all alternatives and shuts out the horizon by the curve of its arc” (170) in Weed’s words. Once again, Weed is interested in the ways globalization shapes symbolic production, hence in the forms it takes in the realm of symbolic exchange. The formidable development of teletechnologies of communication, and particularly of visualization technologies, has rendered irrelevant former reading procedures that painstakingly tried to tease out if not hidden meanings then at least meanings that were said to escape what Derrida qualified in “Plato’s Pharmacy” as “anything that could rigorously be called a perception” (63). At a time when everything is made visible, every move exposed, there is no further need for hermeneutics (which is what Weed, following both Eve Sedgwick and Paul Ricoeur, calls these obsolete reading practices). It comes as no surprise then that the preferred means of exposure today might be the image rather than the text.
Indeed, in the course of her argument about the ways in which globalization and generalized fetishism conspire to inflect, or perhaps deflect, critical theory, Weed quotes pêlemêle Sedgwick’s humorous remark on the role played by television in the exposure as well as production of the reign of simulacra (“Paranoid” 141), the unabashed circulation on the World Wide Web of the images of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison and the glossy pictures of alluring transgender figures in fashion magazines. The turning of the transgender figure into a worldwide fashion icon seems to exemplify, in Weed’s view, the unwitting convergence of commodity fetishism with its globalizing tendency, the prosthetic drive of capitalism, and a certain course of sexual politics as well as theory that toys with the possibilities afforded by technocapitalism.
But what does this all have to do with the failure of translation? With images, there is no need for dictionaries, or so it appears, not because dictionaries give quick answers rather than raise questions, but because images bypass language differences altogether. Language differences, and more precisely divergences in language usages, point to contextual differences that cannot be erased and should therefore not be overlooked. Images, on the other hand, can be viewed globally without much hindrance. No need to know the context to find them enticing or repellent. Their ability to circulate across borders is thus greatly enhanced. True, an image, any kind of image, can lend itself to something like reading. Conversely, one can choose not to read a text and treat it, as is sometimes the case, particularly with “sacred” texts, as a fetish. The problem, then, doesn’t lie with the image in itself. It doesn’t lie with the nature of what is being circulated. Rather, the apparent primacy of images tells us something about the mode of circulation itself. The virtual bypassing of borders by symbolic goods and icons (while at the same time material political borders hindering human passage are being re-erected everywhere), their instant availability thanks to the speed and reach of teletechnologies, threaten to change the conditions of intellectual exchange by canceling the time and space of translation, hence of resistant hospitality to the thought of the other(s). We who were raised as humanists, neohumanists, or posthumanists of whatever persuasion are all dismayed at the speed at which “new” propositions today become clichés, mantras, little intellectual fetishes, soon to be dropped like worn-out toys. The unprecedented speed of reification is obviously determined by the mode and speed of circulation. When Jagose, an Australian queer theorist, wonders in her recent piece, “The Trouble with Antinormativity,” whether the quasi-automatic antinormative stance of queer theory hasn’t “come to prevail as a kind of meme, an easily transmissible conceptual signature the persistence of which is more easily traced to nonepistemological impulses,” she draws attention precisely to what the “easy transmissibility” afforded or materialized by current technological modes of information and communication might be doing to critical thinking (32). What happens to queer theory and politics when its claim to subversion appears “automatic” and its surprising moves become predictable in the course of its successful spreading through the (Western) world? The “transmission” of formulas or stances Jagose worries about is a memetic transmission, one that occurs without discernable agents of dissemination, without willful actors of reception. The word meme, as we know, was coined by Richard Dawkins in the late seventies to designate a genetic replicator of a new kind, one that spreads sameness, as it were, by reproducing itself without differentiation or mutation and that Dawkins characterizes as a “unit of imitation.” Dawkins claims to have had in mind the French word même (self-same) when he came up with “meme,” another example of the attraction of English and French when it comes to theorizing. Unsurprisingly, the meme started to enjoy a “viral” success, spreading across disciplinary and language borders with the development of the Internet precisely because it appeared suited to describe the very ways in which information was being processed and spread across the web. The meme is a paradoxical trope. While all metaphors rely on differences (to start with, lexical and semantic differences) to produce similarities or rather semantic encounters, the meme has become a figure for the complete collapse of differences through replication. Thus, while Jagose’s invocation of the meme can be said to be twice removed or doubly metaphoric (she borrows it from the field of information theory which borrows it from the field of genetics), the very mention of the meme actually threatens, or marks, the collapse between these fields thanks to the very homogenizing mechanism it designates.
When Jagose wonders if the “memetic” impulse hasn’t overcome the epistemological impulse, she is suggesting that replication, that is, repetition without difference, is threatening to replace the work of critical reception (that is, welcoming and hosting with a difference) that inheres in intellectual or scientific pursuit. When Weed notes that the globe, rather than being a figure for the expansiveness and plurality of the world, has become the name for its contraction under the pull of homogenizing forces (while power imbalances remain firmly in place), she is saying something quite similar.
True, globalization and its technologically engineered avatar, the information-driven memeticism against which our dreams of infinite hospitality to infinite differences might come crashing, do not threaten only the course of feminist and queer theory or politics. But the stakes are high for an intellectual, political, and social field whose very raison d’être has been and continues to be the excavation of unrecognized and unwanted differences and the promotion of plurality.
Can translation, a neohumanist practice of transnational exchange and now perhaps an ethico-political task of resistant and transformative reception, withstand the trend?
For an overview of the events that took place on this occasion, see the web documentary designed by Barbara Wolman (“Acte V”).
See the website of the newly founded Institut du genre (Institut).
This was sadly confirmed by the results of the last regional elections in France as well as by the nationalistic and xenophobic turn taken by almost all political parties, the center-left government included.
In the decade following May 1968, demonstrators often chanted in the streets: “Chaud, chaud, chaud, le printemps sera chaud!” [“Hot, hot, hot, the spring’s going to be hot!”].
Vincennes was committed intellectually and politically to anti-colonialism and “third worldism” in the seventies, welcoming more students from decolonizing and “developing” countries than any other university in Europe at that time. “French feminism,” on the other hand, was conflated with first-world metropolitan views by some u.s.-based feminist and postcolonial scholars, in spite of the fact that most of these same French feminists were no more (and no less) “French” than the u.s. scholars calling them to task were “(North) American,” and they were for the most part no less virulently opposed to colonialism.
Recall how, in his “very short introduction” to Literary Theory, Jonathan Culler mentioned self-reflexivity or “thinking about thinking,” that is, inquiring “into the categories we use in making sense of things” as one of the defining features of theory (14).
On the meaning of the Freudian Geschlecht and the difficulty of translating it into English or French, see Berger, “La psychanalyse” 126–30; Fraisse; and Laplanche 188.
On this topic, see differences’ recent issue on queer antinormativity, edited by Robyn Wiegman and Elizabeth Wilson.
Again, a similar move is made by Said in Humanism and Democratic Criticism 82.
This is from an earlier version of Hemming’s essay included in this issue.