Love at the Heart of Feminist Epistemology: On the Interconnectedness between Love and Gender
Abstract: In this thesis, I investigate the concept of love in relation to feminist epistemology. Through a theoretical analysis and assessment, the aim has been to first of all examine ontological tensions between feminist works theorizing on love; secondly, to analyse which role the concept of love has in the works; and thirdly to contextualize the different ontological assumptions made within the basic tension in feminist epistemology, i.e. that which concerns the enabling of collective solidarity or the deconstruction of gender itself. The literature analysed I position in the relatively new field of feminist love studies, and it has been selected according to what I define as the field’s meta-theoretical epistemic doxa: (1) love serves as a key concept and is assigned a relatively independent social, political and/or ethical significance; (2) the theorization of love is carried out explicitly in relation to feminist theory that articulates a particular relationship between gender, sexuality, power and resistance (Simone de Beauvoir’s existentialist feminism, radical feminism(s) and/or queer theories). From a materialist-realist vantage point, I argue that collective solidarity is a prerequisite for an effective deconstruction of gender. Secondly, I stipulate a sociological notion of love as possibly transcendent given particular socio-material conditions. Thirdly, I argue that feminist theory needs to articulate a basic ontology of gender that emphasizes its socio-historically contingent materiality. I conclude that feminism needs to define love as a potential, socially transformative site for women and queers, and generate spaces based upon collective solidarity where love transcends patriarchal contradictions.
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