Queer and Gender Theory Moved Away From a Simple Identity Politics?

Abstract

The  continued  use  of  simple  identity  politics  has  been  brought  to  the  fore  by  the current debates surrounding the acceptability of gay marriage. Many groups have and  will  rally  around  an  identity  category  in  rights-based  struggles.  However, gender and queer theorists have questioned the effectiveness of this strategy and, more broadly, the logic of identity categories. This paper examines the  work of a number of gender and queer theorists, including Judith Butler, Wendy Brown and Michel Foucault, and their move away from a simple identity politics. Despite the number  of  theorists,  their  diverse  approaches  and  their  disparate terminologies two  main  reasons  for  this  divergence  emerged  from  this  study.  Firstly,  a  simple identity  politics  fails  to  acknowledge  the  spatial  and  temporal  diversity  and change  of  social  categories.  Secondly,  a  simple  identity  politics  unquestioningly operates  in  and  through  the  dominant  Western  binary  discourse;  thus  often strengthening  this  discourse  and  inadvertently  weakening  the  position  of  those employing  a  simple  identity  politics.  Combining  the  arguments  from  queer  and gender  theory  this  paper  goes  on  to  highlight  and  suggest  ways  in  which  a  non-simple  identity  politics  can  be  created  and used  in  more  sophisticated  political and  theoretical  strategies.  This  offers  a  more  effective  conceptualisation  of political struggle which enhances the potential to effect radical change.

Keywords: queer, gender, identity politics, post-structural theory, feminist geography 


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