Research Leader, Associate Professor Allison Weir
Resistance movements around the world engage in struggles against domination, and in struggles for freedom – but are we all struggling for the same kinds of freedom? This project explores diverse conceptions and practices of freedom, in relation to ideals and practices of human rights, democracy, social justice, equality, and well-being. In particular, we ask how we can rethink struggles of diversely situated (gendered, raced, classed, encultured) agents in terms of intersecting conceptions of and struggles for freedom.
The dominant conception of freedom in the western world is the ideal of noninterference with individual liberty – but the exclusive focus on this conception of freedom in fact contributes to global injustice, and erodes collective practices of solidarity and belonging. In addition to reconsidering various western philosophies of freedom, this project takes the perspective of nonideal theory to draw on feminist, antiracist, queer, and postcolonial critique, on diverse resistance struggles, and on diverse practices and conceptions of freedom, to consider ways of understanding and practicing freedom that are more compatible with social justice, and with sustainable relations among humans and between humans and earth others.
Areas of exploration include Buddhist and yogic conceptions and practices of freedom, in particular as they support resistance struggles in Tibet and elsewhere, struggles for self-determination and philosophies of connection to land among Indigenous communities in Australia and Canada, the love and justice tradition of Black America and in Africana philosophy, ritual and religious practices as practices of freedom, in particular practices of pious Muslim women in relation to Muslim feminist movements, conceptions of freedom in Foucault and in queer theory, theories of development as freedom, Marxist conceptions of nonalienation, theories and practices of collective participation, feminist theories of change, conceptions of relational autonomy in relation to practices of parenting, conceptions of freedom that inform movements for women’s and LGBT human rights.