Identities and Freedom: Feminist Theory Between Power and Connection
By Associate Professor Allison Weir
27 March, 2013
A new book by Associate Professor Allison Weir, published by Oxford University Press, 2013.
How can we think about identities in the wake of feminist critiques of identity and identity politics? In Identities and Freedom, Allison Weir rethinks conceptions of individual and collective identities in relation to freedom. Drawing on Taylor and Foucault, Butler, Zerilli, Mahmood, Mohanty, Young, and others, Weir develops a complex and nuanced account of identities that takes seriously the ways in which identity categories are bound up with power relations, with processes of subjection and exclusion, yet argues that identities are also sources of important values, and of freedom, for they are shaped and sustained by relations of interdependence and solidarity. Moving out of the paradox of identity and freedom requires understanding identities as effects of multiple contesting relations of power and relations of interdependence.
Includes an introduction that surveys the landscape of contemporary feminist theory and explains why we need a new understanding of identity
Weir develops a new theory of identities in relation to freedom, and a new theory of freedom as a practice of belonging
Includes discussions of race and gender identities, identity politics, transnational feminisms, the Egyptian women's piety movement, in relation to diverse conceptions of freedom
Reviews "This is a terrific book, one that stakes out an original and distinctive position in some well-worn debates, and that brings together diverse bodies of theory in an insightful and productive way. It is a real gem. It offers substantial new insights into how feminist theorists can go on in the wake of the relentless critique of the notion of identity. The book will make a significant contribution to ongoing debates in feminist theory over the vexed question of identity – a question that is absolutely central to feminist theory, and has been so for at least the last twenty years."–Amy Allen, Department of Philosophy, Dartmouth College
"This book makes great contributions to the feminist literature by reconceptualizing IDENTITY in terms of connectedness and FREEDOM in terms of practices of belonging. Through a fascinating and innovative synthesis of Michel Foucault and Charles Taylor, Weir's communitarian approach develops new arguments for the need to cultivate resistant identities and resistant communities. This impressive book is full of original ideas masterfully articulated in critical engagements with leading feminist scholars such as Saba Mahmood, Cynthia Willett, Iris Young, and Linda Zerilli. This provocative book is a must read for anyone interested in contemporary discussions of freedom, resistance, identity, and community."–José Medina, Department of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University
Table of Contents Introduction Chapter 1. Who are We? Modern Identities Between Taylor and Foucault Chapter 2. Home and Identity: In Memory of Iris Marion Young Chapter 3. Global Feminism and Transformative Identity Politics Chapter 4. Transforming Women Chapter 5. Feminism and the Islamic Revival: Freedom as a Practice of Belonging Conclusion