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Friday, May 17, 2013

Other forms of exceptionalism

We talk about cultural and national exceptionalism (I do, a lot) but other forms of thought are also exceptionalist. Any form of feminism that think women are "different" is exceptionalist.

Now what I mean here by different is: different in some mystical, mysterious way. A difference susceptible to romanticization.

Now for me, this is not really feminism at all. It is the exact same mechanism that gives a positive, magical value to a region of the world that is underdeveloped. They are closer to nature, more intuitive, and more mystical, etc... I just don't want to go there. It is just as imperialist to have a condescending (but naively admiring) attitude than a dismissive one.

I was surprised when my graduate students talked about an "incorrect" interpretation of an indigenous culture. as if it were so easy to be "correct"!

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

That "positive magical value" often gets given to regions that are not just "underdeveloped" but were actually totally exploited by European colonizers. So the condescension is even worse: a "naive admiration" that obscures the historical violence done by the admirer's culture to the admired culture.