“Sometimes Quiet is Violent”: On Radical Reflection, Queer Phenomenology and Epistemic Violence

Valérie Simon

In the article “Undoing Theory: The ‘Transgender Question’ and the Epistemic Violence of Anglo-American Feminist Theory” Viviane Namaste highlights the epistemological violence of a feminist theory centred on the “transgender question” (Namaste 2009, 12), meaning the ways in which feminist theory looks at transsexual and transgender bodies to ask its own epistemological questions (Namaste 2009, 12). As such, she calls for “different models for the production of theory” (Namaste 2009, 12).

In this presentation, as I think through the relationship between epistemic violence and the production of theory in philosophy, I turn to Merleau-Ponty’s radical reflection and Sara Ahmed’s queer phenomenology to look at how these two methods do theory differently. Indeed, by putting Merleau-Ponty and Ahmed in conversation, I will argue that queer phenomenology is an intervention in Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology that teases out the role of orientation in Merleau-Ponty and as such clarifies the tools present in Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology to prevent epistemological violence.

 

Reference:

Namaste, Viviane. “Undoing Theory: The ‘Transgender Question’ and the Epistemic Violence of Anglo-American Feminist Theory.” Hypatia 24, no. 3 (July 16, 2009): 11–32.