December 11th, 2002

  • epilady

Pertinent quote...

From Edward Said's Culture and Imperialism :

The difficulty with theories of essentialism and exclusiveness, or with barriers and sides, is that they give rise to polarizations that absolve and forgive ignorance and demagogery more than they enable knowledge....

...If you know in advance that the African or Iranian or Chinese or Jewish or German experience is fundamentally integral, coherent, separate, and therefore comprehensible only to Africans, Iranians, Chinese, Jews, or Germans, you first of all posit as essential something which, I believe, is both historically created and the result of interpretation - namely the existence of Africanness, Jewishness, or Germanness, or for that mattter Orientalism and Occidentalism. And second, you are likely as a consequence to defend the essence or experience itself rather than promote full knowledge of it and its entanglements and dependencies on other knowledges. As a result, you will demote the different experiences of others to a lesser status.

If at the outset we acknowledge the massively knotted and complex histories of special but nevertheless overlapping and interconnected experiences - of women, of Westerners, of Blacks, of national states and cultures - there is no particular intellectual reason for granting each and all of them an ideal and essentially separate status. Yet we would wish to preserve what is unique about each so long as we also preserve some sense of the human community and the actual contests that contribute to its formation, and of which they are all a part. (pp 31-2)

Doesn't take much to extrapolate to our lovely gender- and sexuality- polarized queer community, IMO.

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