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Marnia Lazreg, "Feminism and Difference: The Perils of Writi

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L Pronk

on 1 March 2014

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Transcript of Marnia Lazreg, "Feminism and Difference: The Perils of Writi

A Discussion of Marnia Lazreg,
"Feminism and Difference: The Perils of Writing as a Woman on Women in Algeria." (Women in Algeria)

"Is there something at the heart of academic feminism that it is inescapably Western gynocentric; that is, must it inevitably lead to the exercise of discursive power by some women over others?"

p. 96
Examples of these writings
Hubertine Auclert,
Les Femmes arabes en Algérie
> advocates Frenchification of women
> Islam as obstacle to being French

Mathea Gaudry (1929)
> Frenchification but with Islam

Various monographs in 1950s and 1960s
> aim of "guiding" Algerian women toward the ideal of French womanhood
> downgrading religion and customs
Euro-American and/or academic feminist discourse
on women in Algeria:
> reproduces major elements of the prevailing social science paradigm
> continuity between 19th-century and 20th-century feminist and protofeminists writing:

TED talk by Elif Shafak on the "Politics of Fiction"
min. 10:25 - 13:40
Assertions of "difference" in academic feminism problematic:

> affirms a new form of reductionism!
> difference becomes essentialized
> inability to address the intersubjective foundation of difference
- seeing lives of Third World women as "meaningful, coherent, and understandable instead of being infused "by us" with doom and sorrow." p. 98
- lives are structured by economic, political, and cultural factors.
- women are shaping and transforming their environment.
- generalizing categories in "our" analyses assault on their integrity and identity.
The author's gaze
> on the Algerian female Other

1980s examples:
> show incorrect statements;
> denial of selfhood and ability to think;
> categorization and generalization
Repetitive nature of prevailing paradigm!
> "ultimate effect is to preclude any understanding of Algerian women in their lived reality: as subjects in their own right."
Algerian women placed in categories without individuality.
There is a need of a
of women's lived experience to explode the constraining power of
Understanding gender relations:
> don't detach religion from socio-economic and political context
> religion as subject to change, limits and conditions
> religious symbols
> refrain from geopolitical terms or generalizations
Power of interpretation

of "different" women is a form of

of one's femaleness
cannot achieve

and capacity to
Full transcript