Deleuze, Guattari and feminism: The relation between difference and identity

See below, information about an upcoming workshop at the Research centre for Action Research and Critical Inquiry in Organisations (ARCIO) at the University of Bristol.

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Deleuze, Guattari and feminism: The relation between difference and identity

A workshop led by Dr. Emma Jeanes, University of Exeter

April 9th 2014, 1.00-5.00pm

Hawthornes Brunel Room at the University of Bristol

Identity politics, broadly defined, is a fundamental concern for many feminist scholars. This can be seen in the tension between essentialism (whether biologically or socially constructed) and post-structuralist approaches. The risks associated with an essentialised subject or the potential loss of the subject in whose name we can speak remains at the heart of much philosophical debate and practical consideration.  Identity (even if contingent and discursively produced) is often the starting point in feminist thinking, and questions of difference are often a matter of differences ‘between’ identities.

Deleuze questions what he sees as the common way of thinking, which he argues is betrayed by its focus on sameness and resemblance.  This is the “image of thought” which he contends prevents us from thinking the true nature of difference. In short, the image of thought he challenges is that which is preoccupied with questions of identity. Deleuze argues that when thinking about difference we should not be thinking of difference between but difference–in-itself. Deleuze places difference prior to identity, and points to differences of nature rather than differences of degree.  He builds on this work in partnership with Guattari, and difference-in-itself is fundamental to their conceptual development.

The work of Deleuze and Guattari has often received criticism from feminist scholars. In this workshop, we will re-examine the work of Deleuze and Guattari in relation to their understanding of philosophy and of difference, and in doing so we will discuss the implications of the relegation of identity for feminist politics.   In order to do this, key readings will be selected from their work. Specifically “An Image of Thought” from Difference and Repetition (chapter 3) in which we explore Deleuze’s approach to philosophical thought (and difference), and “Bodies without Organs” (chapter 6) from A Thousand Plateaus in which we explore how this is manifest in one of Deleuze and Guattari’s well-known concepts, bringing together notions of difference and body.

The workshop will comprise an introduction to the ideas and the selected texts, and then the texts will be discussed in relation to feminist thought, and beyond.  It is expected that participants read the two extracts prior to the meeting.

References (and reading):

G Deleuze and F Guattari (1987) “November 28, 1947: How Do You Make Yourself a Body Without Organs?”, chapter 6 in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans B Massumi, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (I will be using the 2004 Continuum edition).

G Deleuze (1994) “The image of thought”, chapter 3 in Difference and Repetition, trans P Patton, London: Continuum Publishing. (I will be using the 2004 Continuum edition).

Dr Emma Jeanes is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter Business School and is affiliated to Lund University, Sweden. Emma’s research draws on sociology and philosophy. She co-edited the Wiley Handbook in Gender, Work and Organization (2011) with David Knights and Patricia Yancey Martin, and Men, Wage Work and Family (2012) with Paula McDonald. Emma has published work on Deleuze and creativity, and is currently writing on nomadology and organising.

To reserve a place, contact Mary Phillips: mary.phillips@bristol.ac.uk

The workshop is free of charge and refreshments will be provided.

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