Toward a Theoretico-practical Accountability to Difference and Relationality

Heather Rakes


In this essay, I argue for a theoretico-practical accountability to difference and belonging in feminist philosophy and theory that requires attentiveness to disability as an important vector of power, normativity, and oppression. My insistence on accountability echoes the many appeals to confront and take account of one's own ableist, white supremacist, cisgendered forms of privilege (while simultaneously working to dismantle more systemic forms of privilege) that disabled feminists, feminists of color, and transgender feminists have made.[i] Following Eli Clare and Aimee Carrillo Rowe, I consider how an ongoing accountability to intersectionality and embodiment in a politics of relation can avoid the exclusionary logics at work in feminist philosophical and theoretical invocations of "gender, race, and class," or "gender, race, and sexuality" that consistently ignore disability, among other identifications, as constitutive productions of structural power. An embodied and intersectional feminist refiguring of subjectivity that attends to race, class, age, disability, cis/gender, and sexuality, among other axes of difference, should be recognized as an important requirement of accountability for feminist philosophers and theorists, especially feminist philosophers and theorists who are privileged along one or more of these axes of power.

[i] Aurora Levins Morales (1998), frames this accountability as “the willingness to examine and dismantle our own privilege and take full responsibility for remaking the world so that neither we nor anyone else can hold it again” (94). 

Keywords: belonging; relationality; feminism; disability; queer; transgender




belonging; relationality; feminism; disability; queer; transgender

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Copyright (c) 2013 Heather Rakes

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