SWIP Conference at Kent

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56with this point on page

94. ^ I am perfectly aware of the relationship between Hocquenghem and Schérer, but this book is not a biography, and detail of the literal-minded kind not its concern. More bizarrely and substantially, the reviewer chooses to ignore whole aspects of the book – the specificity of the French context in relation to Anglo-Saxon gay politics, the discussion of modernity in LʼAme atomique – while at the same time presenting as omissions ʻdoubtsʼ about some of Hocquenghemʼs ideas which are in fact there for all to read, and have been noted by other reviewers. My discussions of his views on rape (pp. 11–12), and paedophilia (pp. 48–50) are more developed than the reviewer implies, seeking both to avoid knee-jerk reactions and to adopt a critical distance. I also recognize the gender blindness and the absence of lesbianism in Hocquenghemʼs theories (for example, p. 93). I shall leave it to readers of Radical Philosophy to decide whether they, like David Macey, consider Benjamin and Bakhtin to be postmodernists.

As academics, we are all under pressure of time.

And Guy Hocquenghem is a little book with no greater ambition than to help invigorate some contemporary debates through an exposition and contextualization of its subject. It surely deserves, however, to be reviewed with the same care as any other work.

Bill marshall,

School of Modern Languages,

University of Southampton

Newsswip conference at kent

Last yearʼs conference of the Society of Women in Philosophy (SWIP) was held at the University of Kent on 7 December. It was organized in conjunction with and financed by the Centre for Womenʼs Studies at Canterbury. For anyone, like myself, who had never attended a SWIP conference before, it was an opportunity to engage socially with colleagues, academics and students, as well as to discuss philosophical issues.

Adrian Cavarero opened the conference with an informative discussion of the question of Being. Her emphasis was not so much on ʻwhatʼ we are, which she suggested would amount to a discussion on essence, and therefore a return to a disembodied self and all the dangers that go with it, but instead on ʻwhoʼ we are. Cavarero began with a rereading of Sophoclesʼ Oedipus Rex. Unknown to himself, his parentage in doubt, Oedipus is able to complete his life story not by identifying himself with the universal, as man, but by attending to the external presence of others. Autobiography, Cavarero thus argued, becomes less egocentric and instead more of a biographical narrative. This relationship between one and an other is a reciprocal one where all parties involved desire mutual ethical recognition of their own mediated uniqueness. Not only is the significance of context restored; so too is the possibility of change both within and between our selves. The ʻwhoʼ we are, Cavarero ended with suggesting, amounts to an awareness of being-for-others as potential biographers.

The second speaker was Miranda Fricker, who presented a paper on ʻThe Radicalization of Epistemologyʼ. Though not entirely defending the teleological project supposedly characteristic of modernism, she nevertheless situated feminist philosophy firmly within an emancipatory feminist movement. Her intent was to undermine claims for the political efficacy of postmodernism, by arguing that its preoccupation with fragmentation, multiple identity and the local, while necessary, has its limits. Postmodern discourse might resist exclusion and overgeneralization, but it does not provide the tools for a critical understanding of societal relations, and thereby both courts conservatism and, albeit perhaps unintentionally, helps to contribute to epistemic oppression. She ended by calling attention to the best of postmodernism, but refused to align herself with the breakdown in rationality, truth and reality which postmodern discourse appears to demand.

Our final speaker, Jean Grimshaw, in ʻPhilosophy and the Feminist Imaginationʼ, relieved the intensity of the conference, allowing us the opportunity to play with and explore different means of expressing our self-images through the use of metaphor and anarchic language.

Thanks are due to Anne Seller and Sue Sherwood for organizing such a successful conference.

Naomi hammond