College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

9-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Department/Program Conferring Degree

Philosophy

Keywords

feminist and queer theory, transgender identity, Michel Foucault, coloniality of gender, temporality

Abstract

My dissertation analyzes the relationship between continental philosophy, feminist and queer theory, and transgender studies. Despite their related genealogies, these theoretical frameworks often give different accounts of the claim to an essential or real identity, as well as the relationship between identity, embodiment, and power more broadly. I argue not only that the role of temporality must be theorized in these debates, but also that these issues must be considered within a historical context in which temporality is deployed as a mechanism of power. I turn to critical race theory and postcolonial studies for examples of this deployment. Drawing on 19th and 20th century continental philosophy, including Friedrich Nietzsche’s genealogy of the naturalized body, Michel Foucault’s account of biopolitical population management, Maria Lugones’ analysis of the colonial/modern gender system, and Luce Irigaray’s critique of origin stories, I ask how transgender experience requires a rethinking of foundational continental, queer, feminist frameworks such as self-creation, disciplinary normalization, the sex/gender distinction, and the intersection of gender and race. I show that paying attention to transgender experience highlights the central role of temporality in the nation-state’s racialized maintenance of the category of gender. Throughout, I contend that the conversation between continental feminist philosophy and transgender studies allows for a more thoroughly historicized, intersectional account of the relationship between bodies, time, and power.

Available for download on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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