Feminism, Politics, and Emancipation: Undoing Culture
My abstract is intended for a 15-minute presentation at the Undisciplined conference. I plan to share my current scholarly findings that inform my doctoral dissertation (currently a “work in progress”). My project addresses the overlapping themes of feminism, hegemony, and culture, and draws on various disciplines, including cultural studies, gender studies, critical race studies, and black studies in order to undo “culture” as a theoretical category. I will first explore how many western feminist theories inadvertently cast “cultural identity” as a racially stable category. I will then put forth a theoretical framework that establishes culture as an inherently unknowable category. This vision of culture, I argue, will contribute to theoretical work that challenges structures of power in new ways precisely because it demands that we continually learn and engage with the unknown, rather than our understanding of cultural identity, and thus emancipation, through structures that seek to, and claim to, make gender and cultural politics knowable and transparent. By drawing on interdisciplinary theories of culture (Frantz Fanon, Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall, among others), I will focus on the ways that cultural identities emerge out of an intellectual history that depends on non-linear coalitions that function and rely on multiplicities. I will conclude my presentation by thinking about how creative works—black popular culture and hip hop lyrics—are useful sites that reject unified, essential, and universalizing conflations of race and culture. The cultural narrative that hip hop enunciates is a politics of emancipation that exists outside of what is traditionally and normally valued as “knowledge.”
Maya Stitski is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She holds an MA from the London School of Economics in Gender and Social Policy and a BAHon from Queen’s University in Politics and Women’s Studies. Her current research program and forthcoming dissertation will explore the connections between feminism, culture, knowledge and studies of race, with a focus on the ways in which canonical feminist theory casts black popular culture as antithesis to feminist politics. Maya is currently working on paper titled “Undoing Judith Butler” which is a commentary on how Lil Kim’s performative lyrics complement and complicate Butler’s canonical text, Gender Trouble.