2004
Volume 109, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-5275
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1244

Abstract

Abstract

In this paper I argue that the work of Nigerian feminist scholar Oyèrónké Oyĕwùmí reveals the limitations of the attempts by Western feminist philosophers to subvert philosophy’s occupation with the universal. By paying close attention to the particularities of Yorùbá society, Oyĕwùmí creates a knowledge framework or epistemology that poses a profound challenge to Western feminist thought by undermining and disputing the universality of its foundational concepts. She illustrates how the concepts central to Western feminist thought, such as ‘woman’ and ‘gender’ are constructed on the basis of Western cultural particulars which are universalized at the expense of societies with alternative cultural and social configurations. Her work therefore reveals the way in which Western feminist thought, despite its attempts to produce knowledge that is situated and rooted in the particular, remains permeated with and reliant on Western concepts that it uncritically assumes to be universal. I place Oyĕwùmí in dialogue with Belgian feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray to illustrate this point in more concrete terms. I show that although Irigaray identifies and explains how philosophy works to silence and erase Others, and what must be done to overcome this, her focus on sexual difference leads her to step into the same trap as the philosophers she criticizes.

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/content/journals/10.5117/ANTW2017.1.COET
2017-01-22
2022-11-27
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): feminism; gender; Irigaray; Oyĕwùmí; universals
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