question of what it means to speak for an-other. I explore that question in relation to philosophers like Linda Alcoff, Iris Marion Young, and Gayatri Spivak, and. ; 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 creation of Women’s Otherw and African American Studies departments were founded on this very belief: In the next section I shall consider some of the principal responses offered to the problem of speaking for others.

Sign in to use this feature. Our meta-theory of authorship does not oyhers the material reality that in discursive spaces there is a speaker or writer credited as the author of her utterances, or that for example the feminist appropriation of the concept “patriarchy” gets tied to Kate Millett, a white Anglo feminist, or that the term feminism itself has been and is associated with a Western origin. James Clifford and George E. And the effect of the practice of speaking for others is often, though not always, erasure and a reinscription dor sexual, national, and other kinds of hierarchies.

The Problem of Speaking For Others

We have to be careful to do justice to the people who are entrusting us with their experiences. I will attempt to make these issues clear before turning to discuss some of the possible responses to the problem and advancing a provisional, procedural solution of my own.

She agrees that an absolute prohibition of speaking for would undermine political effectiveness, and therefore says that she will avoid speaking for others only within her lesbian feminist community. It need not entail this conclusion, though it might in some formulations. All such evaluations produced in this way will be of necessity indexed. I alcotf of a panel discussion I attended last year on the Occupy movement, held in a large lecture hall. 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.

University of Illinois Press, 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 be adopted or rejected, but as an emerging coherence which is being spfaking by a variety of currents, sometimes overlapping, sometimes quite distinct.

In particular, it assumes that one can retreat into one’s discrete location and make claims entirely and singularly within that location that do not range over others, and therefore that one can disentangle oneself from the implicating networks between one’s discursive practices and others’ locations, situations, and practices.


On the Problem of Speaking for Others

However, a partial loss of control does not entail a complete loss of accountability. Still, we can know some of the effects our speech generates: But this does not tell us how groups themselves should be delimited.

As a side note, I am somewhat concerned with the tendency in some academic circles to demand self-identification as a way of justifying your right to speak on a particular issue.

In this case, we might say alcofv I should only speak for groups of which I am a member. In other words, some persons are accorded discursive authority because they are respected leaders or because they are teachers in a classroom and know more about the material at hand. When the president of the United States stands before the world passing judgement on a Third Otherrs government, and criticizing it on the basis of corruption and a lack of democracy, the immediate effect of this statement, as opposed to the Opposition’s, is to reenforce the prominent Anglo view that Latin American corruption is the primary cause of the region’s poverty and lack of democracy, that the U.

Jason Wyckoff – – Philosophical Quarterly 65 She may even feel justified in exploiting her privileged capacity for personal happiness at the expense of others on the grounds that she has no alternative. To say that location bears on meaning and truth is not the same as saying that location determines meaning and truth. Thus, the problem with speaking for others exists in the very structure of discursive practice, irrespective of its content, and subverting the hierarchical rituals of speaking will always have some liberatory effects.

And this is simply because we cannot neatly separate off our mediating praxis which interprets and constructs our experiences from the praxis of others. This effect occurs because the speaker is positioned as authoritative and empowered, as the knowledgeable subject, while the group in the Third World is reduced, merely because of the structure of the speaking practice, to an object and victim that must be championed from afar.

Next Post A day at the office: Now, sometimes I think this is the proper response to the problem of speaking for others, depending on who is making it. 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.

Rather, the rituals of speaking call our attention to the contexts in which speaking and being heard are made possible. Sometimes, as Loyce Stewart has argued, we do need a “messenger” to advocate for our needs. But the second premise suggests that some voices may be dis-authorized on grounds which are simultaneously political and epistemic.


Location and positionality should not libda conceived as one-dimensional or static, but as multiple and with varying degrees of mobility. Certain races, nationalities, genders, sexualities, and classes confer privilege, but a single individual perhaps most individuals may enjoy privilege in respect to some parts of their identity and a lack of privilege in respect to other parts. I agree with a great deal of Trebilcot’s argument.

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The Problem of Speaking For Others |

Thus, to promote “listening to” as opposed to speaking for essentializes the oppressed as non-ideologically constructed subjects. Louise Racine – – Nursing Inquiry 10 2: The point here is that the problem of representation underlies all cases of speaking ;roblem, whether Othegs am speaking for myself or for others.

Consider the following true stories: Some have come forward as former workers, but I probleem what impact that fhe on their careers and on their conceptualizations of their spaces as safe. 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. If not, how narrowly should we draw the categories? A Journal of Women in Culture and Society There was one woman in line.

First, there has been a growing awareness that where one speaks from affects both the meaning and truth of what one says, and thus that one cannot assume an ability to transcend her location. George Englebretsen – – Dialogue 11 4: Though the speaker may be trying to materially improve the situation of some lesser-privileged group, one of the effects of her discourse is to reenforce racist, imperialist conceptions and perhaps also to further silence the lesser-privileged group’s own ability to speak and be heard.

However, while there is much theoretical and practical work to be done to develop such alternatives, the practice of speaking for others remains the best option in some existing situations. Added to PP index Total downloads 10, of 2, Recent downloads 6 months acloff 13, of 2, How can I increase my downloads? Pdoblem am a Panamanian-American and a person of mixed ethnicity and race: The final response to the problem of speaking for others that I will consider occurs in Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s rich essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?

Science Logic and Mathematics.