question of what it means to speak for an-other. I explore that question in relation to philosophers like Linda Alcoff, Iris Marion Young, and Gayatri Spivak, and. ; revised and reprinted in Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity edited by Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman, University of Illinois Press, ; and . The Problem of Speaking for Others. Author(s): Linda Alcoff. Source: Cultural Critique, No. 20 (Winter, ), pp. Published by: University of.

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These are feminist texts, and yet I write in ways that are frequently critical of them. This alcotf is important, regardless of whether you claim membership in that community or not, but is particularly salient for identity groups that have seen their histories erased, distorted, or only partially represented within dominant culture.

The creation of Women’s Studies and African American Studies departments were founded on this very belief: Anne Lthers, a very gifted white Canadian author, writes several first person accounts of the lives of Native Canadian women. Cameron’s intentions were never in question, but the effects of her writing were argued to be harmful to the needs of Native authors because it is Cameron rather than they who will be listened to and whose books will be bought by readers interested in Native women.

But Trebilcot’s position, as well as kinda more general retreat position, presumes an ontological configuration of the discursive context that simply does not obtain. Sometimes, I worry sometimes that my criticism overrides what I see as the value of these texts.

Sara Ruddick – – Hypatia 21 2: When the president of the United States stands before the world passing judgement on a Third World government, and criticizing it on the basis of corruption and a lack of democracy, the immediate effect of this statement, as opposed to the Opposition’s, is to reenforce the prominent Anglo view that Latin American corruption is the primary cause of the region’s poverty and lack of democracy, that the U.

There is one final point I want to make before we can pursue this analysis.

The Problem of Speaking For Others |

When I speak for myself, I am constructing a possible self, a way to be in the world, and am offering that, whether I intend to or not, to others, as one possible way to be. And they would be right that acknowledging the effect of location on meaning and even on whether something is taken as true within a particular discursive context does not entail that the “actual” truth of the claim is contingent upon its context.

It need not entail this conclusion, though it might in some formulations. Rigoberta Menchued.

I, too, would reject reductionist theories of justification and essentialist accounts of what it means to have a location. The speaker’s location is one of the elements which converge to produce meaning and thus to determine epistemic validity.


The meaning of any discursive event will be shifting and plural, fragmented and even inconsistent.

The Problem of Speaking For Others

But there is no neutral place to stand free and clear in which one’s words do not prescriptively affect or mediate the experience of others, nor is there a way to demarcate decisively a boundary between one’s location and all others. Linda Probem – unknown. In some cases, the motivation is perhaps not so much to avoid criticism as to avoid errors, and the person believes that the only way to avoid errors is to avoid all speaking for others. However, while there is much theoretical and practical work to be done to develop such alternatives, the practice of speaking for others remains the best option in some existing situations.

Since no embodied speaker can produce more than a partial account, and since the process of producing meaning is necessarily collective, everyone’s account within a specified community needs to be encouraged. This procedure would be most successful if engaged in collectively with others, by which aspects of our location less obvious to us might be revealed.

Who is speaking, who is spoken of, and who listens is a result, as well as an act, of political struggle. There are two premises implied by the articulation of the problem, and unpacking these should advance our understanding of the issues involved. Such a desire for mastery and immunity must be resisted. Why might one advocate such a partial retreat? Donald Bouchard and Sherry Simon Ithaca: To the extent that location is not a alcotf essence, and to the extent that there is an uneasy, underdetermined, and contested relationship between location on the one hand and meaning and truth on fir other, we cannot reduce evaluation of meaning and truth to a simple identification of the speaker’s location.

These are not the only possible effects, and some of the effects may not be pernicious, but all the effects must be taken into account when evaluating the discourse of “patriarchy. This issue is complicated by the variable way in which the importance of the source, or location of the author, can be understood, speaing topic alluded to earlier. Adequate research will be a necessary but insufficient criterion of evaluation.

One person a straight woman was regaling us with tales about how difficult it was to come out as a queer person—as told to her by her gay male friends—meanwhile queer people like myself were being shut out of the discussion or sepaking over so our voices could not be heard. Hegel, for example, understood truth as an “identity in difference” between subjective and objective elements. Certain races, nationalities, genders, sexualities, and classes confer privilege, but a single individual perhaps most individuals may enjoy privilege in respect to some parts of their identity and a lack of privilege pgoblem respect to other parts.


On the Problem of Speaking for Others – Hook & Eye

As it ranges over diverse spaces and transforms in the mind of its recipients according to their different horizons of interpretation, the effective control of the speaker over the meanings which she puts in motion may seem negligible.

For, in speaking for ilnda, I am also representing my self in a certain way, as occupying a specific subject-position, having certain characteristics and not others, and so on. In the examples used above, there may appear to be a conflation between the issue of speaking for others and the issue of speaking about others.

I don’t have answers to any of the questions that you’ve raised, but I really love these spaces for dwelling with the complexities of the ethics of self- representation. To the extent that this context bears on meaning, and meaning is in some sense the object of truth, we cannot make an epistemic evaluation of the claim without simultaneously assessing the politics of the situation. The term a,coff is not meant to include positions of discursive power achieved through merit, but in any case these are rarely pure.

They argue for the relevance of location, not its singular power of determination, and they are non-committal on how to construe the metaphysics of location.

And this public self will in most cases have an effect on the self experienced as interiority. Now, sometimes I think this is the proper response to the problem of speaking for others, depending on who is making it. On one view, the author of a text is its “owner” and “originator” credited with creating its ideas and with being their authoritative interpreter.

Adopting the position that one should only speak for oneself raises og difficult questions. Now let us look at the second premise.

These are by no means original: We certainly want to encourage a more receptive listening on the part of the discursively privileged and to discourage presumptuous and oppressive practices of speaking for. While the prerogative of speaking for others remains unquestioned in the citadels of colonial administration, among activists and in the academy it elicits a growing unease and, in some communities of discourse, it is being rejected.

On a coherentist account of truth, which is held by such philosophers as Rorty, Donald Davidson, Quine, and I would argue Gadamer and Foucault, truth is defined as an emergent property of converging discursive and non-discursive elements, when there exists a specific form of integration among these elements in a particular event.

Freedom, Identity, and Rights.