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Apr 27, 2013

...is genealogy?

A friend of mine, who is also a scholar, has blog called What in the Hell? in which he poses questions that he has come across in his work or his organizing and then tries to answer them. At the moment I am working on a bibliographical essay on race and performativity. One of the terms that the authors I am reading tend to like a lot is genealogy. Apparently, this is a term that is related to the philosophy of Michelle Foucault. I don't know much about Foucault and I haven't found the wikipedia definition of genealogy to be super helpful. So, I was delighted to come across a defintion of genealogy as a method in Judith Butler's Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. She writes, “A genealogical critique refuses to search for the origin of gender… rather, genealogy investigates the political stakes in designating as an origin and cause those identity categories that are in fact the effects of institutions, practices, discourses with multiple and diffuse points of origin.”⁠⁠ (Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (London and New York: Routledge, 1990), viii-ix)

 

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