Alcoff’s widely-cited article titled, exactly: “The problem of speaking for others.” Alcoff’s essay is a review of the arguments that have been presented by. ; revised and reprinted in Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity edited by Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman, University of Illinois Press, ; and . The Problem of Speaking for Others. Author(s): Linda Alcoff. Source: Cultural Critique, No. 20 (Winter, ), pp. Published by: University of.
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The Problem of Speaking For Others
This is simply what less-privileged persons have always had to do for ourselves when reading the history of philosophy, literature, etc. We have to be careful to do justice to the people who are entrusting us with their experiences. In some cases, the motivation is perhaps not so much to avoid criticism as to avoid fo, and the person believes that the only way to avoid errors is to avoid all speaking rpoblem others.
To our disappointment, he introduces his lecture by explaining that he can not cover the assigned topic, because as a white male he does not feel that he can speak for the feminist and post-colonial perspectives which have launched the critical interrogation of postmodernism’s politics.
Both collective action and coalitions would seem to require the possibility of speaking for. I do wonder who gets to speak and of what—what stories and personal experiences are told particularly as studied and discussed in academic environments and which are relegated to the dark recesses of oblivion or pop-culture. The sleaking of any discursive event will be shifting and plural, fragmented and even inconsistent.
Stories of Women in Philosophy.
When I “speak for myself” I am participating in the creation and reproduction of discourses through which my own and other selves are constituted. We can de-privilege the “original” author and reconceptualize ideas as traversing almost freely in a discursive space, available from many locations, and without a clearly identifiable originary track, and yet retain our sense that source remains relevant to effect.
The “ritual of speaking” as defined above in which an utterance is located always bears on meaning and truth such that there is no possibility of rendering positionality, location, or context irrelevant to content.
In the examples used above, there may appear to be a conflation between the issue of speaking for others and the issue of speaking about others. Given that the context of hearers is partially determinant, the speaker is not the master or mistress of the situation. In their paper Lugones and Spelman explore the way in which the “demand for the women’s voice” disempowered women of color by not attending apeaking the differences in privilege within the category of women, resulting in a privileging of white women’s voices only.
There is an ambiguity in the two phrases: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society From such a position one’s own location and positionality would not require constant interrogation and critical reflection; one would not have to constantly engage in this emotionally troublesome endeavor and would be immune from the interrogation of others. The dominant modernist view has been that truth represents a relationship of correspondence between a proposition and an extra-discursive reality.
Thus privilege carries with it, e. Donald Bouchard and Sherry Simon Ithaca: Such a desire for mastery and immunity must be resisted. The content of spesking claim, or its meaning, emerges in interaction between words and hearers within a very specific historical situation. In the case of Anne Cameron, if the effects of her books are spsaking disempowering for Native women, they are counterproductive to Cameron’s own stated intentions, and she should indeed “move over.
The Problem of Speaking For Others |
Arising not from monolithic design but from an interplay of factors and forces, it is best understood not as a discrete, definable position which can speaaking adopted or rejected, but as an emerging coherence which is being fed by a variety of othes, sometimes overlapping, sometimes quite distinct. Now, sometimes I think this is the proper response to the problem of speaking for others, depending on who is making it.
When I speak for myself, I am constructing a possible self, a way to be in the world, and am offering that, whether I intend to or not, to others, pfoblem one possible way to be. Dennett – – Raritan 9: Critical theory, discourses of empowerment, psychoanalytic theory, post-structuralism, feminist and anti-colonialist theories have all concurred on this point.
If I speak only for myself it may appear that I am immune from criticism because I am not making any claims that describe others or prescribe actions for them. And this effect will continue until the U. On one view, the peoblem of a text is pproblem “owner” and “originator” credited with creating its ideas and with being their authoritative interpreter.
On another view, the original speaker or writer is no more privileged than any other othere who articulates these views, and in fact the “author” cannot be identified in a strict sense because the concept of author is an ideological construction many abstractions removed from the way in which ideas emerge and become material forces.
Rather, the rituals of speaking call our attention to the contexts in which speaking and being heard are made possible. One person a straight woman was regaling us with tales about how difficult it was to come out as a queer person—as told to her by her gay male friends—meanwhile queer people like myself were being shut out of the discussion or talked over so our voices could not be heard.
Who is speaking to whom turns out to be as important for meaning speakimg truth as what is said; in fact what is said turns out to change according to who is speaking and who is listening.
But a retreat from speaking for will not result in an increase in receptive listening in all cases; it may result merely in a retreat into a narcissistic yuppie lifestyle in which a privileged person takes no responsibility for her society whatsoever. Vostral and Kate Boyer.
On the Problem of Speaking for Others
Is my greatest contribution to move over and get out of the way? Each line had people in it. For this reason, the work of privileged authors who speak on behalf of the oppressed is becoming increasingly criticized by members of those oppressed groups themselves.
Let’s call this response the od of Reductionism”, because it argues that a sort of reductionist theory of justification or evaluation is entailed by premises 1 and 2.