After Postmodernism: Feminism and Marxism revisited.
Gillian Howie (Liverpool)
Paper for Marx and Philosophy Seminar on ‘Marx and Gender’
4 December 2004, London School of Economics
DRAFT VERSION ONLY
In her revised introduction (1988) to Women’s Oppression Today, Michele Barratt, concedes that her original intellectual project, the attempt to consider possible alliances between a non-reductive Marxism and feminism, had been shelved: abandoned rather than resolved; and that the project was abandoned due to the impact of postmodernism on the intellectual environment. Postmodernism, she explains, is premised on an explicit and argued denial of the kind of grand projects that both ‘socialism’ and ‘feminism’ by definition are, but, she says, it is not something one can be for or against. It is a cultural climate as well as an intellectual position, a political reality as well as an academic fashion, predicting that the arguments of postmodernism represent the key position around which feminist work would have to revolve.
A slightly later Barrett, along with many others including Leonard, Benhabib, Walby, trace within feminist theory an extensive turn to culture, away from social sciences. They argue that in the feminist theory located within the arts and humanities there has been an overwhelming interest in discourse analysis and that there has been a parallel trend within what was left in the social sciences; away from social structure models to phenomenology and hermeneutics. Harvey assesses the impact of the same move into cultural politics made by the New Left. The push