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Julia Kristeva and Feminist Thought$
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Birgit Schippers

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748640898

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748640898.001.0001

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Corporeal Ethics: Between Violence and Forgiveness

Corporeal Ethics: Between Violence and Forgiveness

(p.87) 3 Corporeal Ethics: Between Violence and Forgiveness
Julia Kristeva and Feminist Thought

Birgit Schippers

Edinburgh University Press

Kristeva's significant contribution to the field of feminist ethics, underpinned by her assertion of the centrality of embodiment to human life, is the subject of this chapter. It begins by considering Kristeva's insistence on heterogeneity and on alterity, leading to what will be called an ethics of traversal. A key section of this chapter revisits Kristeva's conception of a maternal ethics, which has come to influence much of the critical reception of her work within feminism. Building upon her overall concern with corporeality and, more specifically, with the theory of the drives, the chapter proceeds to consider the foundational role of violence in Kristeva's theory of the subject and its application in the context of conflict, and it assesses its impact on the notions of sublimation and forgiveness. The argument pursued here is broadly sympathetic towards Kristeva's ethical project; however, as will also be suggested, Kristeva's radical theory of heterogeneity and alterity, which informs her ethics, does not translate easily into feminist political efficacy. Developing the discussion from Chapter 1, this chapter will also revisit some reservations regarding Kristeva's conception of the feminine.

Keywords:   feminist ethics, alterity, heterogeneity, maternal ethics, corporeality, theory of drives, violence, forgiveness, the feminine

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