College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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intersectionality, subjectivity, assemblage, relationality, affective politics


Becoming Identities: The Philosophical Subject, Intersectionality and Assemblage honors and engages the intellectual genealogies of women of color feminism and queer disability studies to challenge Continental philosophy’s concession to the binary of identity versus difference. I begin by examining what I call the “subject-as-subject-matter” of philosophy, exposing its solipsism and arguing that even philosophical endeavors that reject discursive appeals to identity involve hidden identity politics. Through the work of María Lugones, Audre Lorde and Luce Irigaray, I assert that philosophy needs to think through what legal theorist Kimberlè Crenshaw Williams first termed “intersectionality.” This allows me to interrogate philosophy’s conception of the subject, especially where it concerns ethics, as it takes for granted certain structural aspects of identity that assume privilege: maleness, heterosexuality, whiteness and ability, and to examine how the subject-as-subject-matter presumes its own stasis and stability. This stable unity is really a plurality, an intersection of privileged qualities. Having exposed this plurality of the subject of philosophy and ethics, I turn to Aimee Carrillo Rowe’s relational subject, always plural, moving—a becoming subject—and I flesh out this subject in terms of emphasis on affect as developed by Sara Ahmed, Jasbir Puar, Brian Massumi, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Here, I insist that this moving subject must be framed through the ethical lens of disability critique, so that we do not accept normative, ableist movement as the lens of becoming. Rather, time and space and the subject’s orientations are refigured through questions of belonging: I locate the subject’s emerging possibilities in what I call philosophy we can feel. I position philosophy’s others—the non-normative ideals and lived identities in my project, at the center of thinking becoming.

Available for download on Tuesday, March 31, 2099