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Title Sisterhood, Natality, Queer : Reframing Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt
Publication Date
Discipline/Department Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, Gender studies; The New School for Social Research
Degree Level doctoral
University/Publisher University of Helsinki

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) did not theorize gender as a political question. None of her major works deal with women s liberation, women s rights, or with gendered aspects of power. In her public life, she neither participated nor spoke up in favor of any feminist group. Yet, her works have generated a rich and polyphonic tradition of feminist scholarship. This dissertation provides the first monograph length, systematic examination of four decades of feminist responses to Arendt s political thought. In this study I ask how and for what purposes have feminist interpreters of Arendt singled out concepts and topics for scrutiny and debate in their efforts to understand the absence of a theory of gender in Arendt s oeuvre. Why has precisely Hannah Arendt been so widely and passionately read by feminist theorists, despite the fact that she did not engage in this field of inquiry at all? By analyzing and contextualizing how each text in feminist secondary literature on Arendt constitutes a distinct response to her silence on gender, and by then grouping these responses, this study finds that feminist efforts to make sense of the absence of a theory of gender in Arendt s political thinking can best be understood through a threefold categorization. First, Anglophone, early second wave sisterhood-interpretations approach Arendt through the conceptual pairs of the public and the private , and the social and the political , arriving at the conclusion that Arendt is a masculine anti-feminist. Second, Continental, French and Italian interpretations operate with Arendt s concept of natality and regard Arendt as a female genius. Finally, postmodern and queer readings highlight concepts such as unique distinctness , speech and action and pariahdom , establishing Arendt as a precursor to feminist elaborations on performativity as well as critiques of identity politics. I contend that taken together, these three feminist perspectives form a prism through which Arendt s enigmatic silence on gender becomes meaningful. At the same time, the history of contemporary feminist political theorizing emerges as a highly polyphonic tradition. Hence, there is no single, univocal feminist theory or feminism that can be applied to Arendt s texts in order to answer the question of how and why she left questions related to gender and sexuality unanswered. Instead, Arendt s account on gender and sexuality can only be grasped through multiple perspectives and multiple feminist voices.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) ei teoretisoinut tuotannossaan sukupuolta poliittisena kysymyksenä. Hänen teoksensa eivät käsittele naisasialiikettä, naisten oikeuksia tai esimerkiksi vallan sukupuolittuneisuutta. Julkisessa elämässään Arendt ei puhunut aikansa feminististen liikkeiden puolesta eikä kuulunut mihinkään feministiseen järjestöön. Tästä huolimatta Arendtin tuotantoa on jo neljän vuosikymmenen ajan tutkittu nimenomaan feministisestä näkökulmasta. Väitöskirjassani analysoin systemaattisesti Arendtin filosofian herättämää feminististä keskustelua.…

Subjects/Keywords Gender Studies; Gender Studies
Language en
Rights Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty. ; This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited. ; Publikationen är skyddad av upphovsrätten. Den får läsas och skrivas ut för personligt bruk. Användning i kommersiellt syfte är förbjuden.
Country of Publication fi
Format application/pdf
Record ID handle:10138/159340
Other Identifiers URN:ISBN:978-951-51-1896-7
Repository helsinki2
Date Indexed 2017-08-22

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