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Back to the question: What is a woman? Subjectivity and gender equality in Judith Butler, Seyla Benhabib and Simone de Beauvoir

Grant number: 14/09589-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): August 26, 2014
Effective date (End): January 26, 2015
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Political Science - Political Theory
Principal Investigator:Ingrid Cyfer
Grantee:Ingrid Cyfer
Host Investigator: Amy R. Allen
Host Institution: Escola de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (EFLCH). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Guarulhos. Guarulhos , SP, Brazil
Research place: Dartmouth College, United States  


The present proposal is supposed to investigate the concept of the subject in Judith Butler, Seyla Benhabib and Simone de Beauvoir, regarding their respective implications in their account of political action and gender equality. Judith Butler, in her reflection on the subject of feminism, denounced the exclusions that derive from the "universal woman". On the other hand, Benhabib formulates another conception of the subject in order to find a way of contextualizing the subject while preserving what she considers fully committed in Butler's argument: the possibility of justifying a normative conception of gender equality. However, it seems that Benhabib has not been completely successful in her formulation because the core of the self in her model is neutral with regard to gender. In order to try to resolve the "deficit of contextualization" in Benhabib's account of the subject, Simone de Beauvoir's conception on subjectivity is introduced into the debate between Butler and Benhabib. The research hypothesis is that the conception of subjectivity that Beauvoir sets in The Second Sex could complement Benhabib's conception of the subject with a more embodied self that would be compatible with both, the demand of contextualizing the subject and the theoretical and political commitments of feminist discourses to gender equality. (AU)

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