Alcoff’s widely-cited article titled, exactly: “The problem of speaking for others.” Alcoff’s essay is a review of the arguments that have been presented by. ; 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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Rowman and Littlefield, Such a concept would require truth to be independent of the speakers’ or listeners’ embodied and perspectival location. We are collectively caught in an intricate, delicate web in which each action I take, discursive or otherwise, pulls on, breaks off, or maintains the tension in many strands of the web in which others find themselves moving also. The feminist movement in the U.

This loss of control may be taken by some speakers to mean that no speaker can be held accountable for her discursive actions. Although we cannot maintain a neutral voice, according to the first premise we may at least all claim the right and legitimacy to speak. Science Logic and Mathematics. To the extent it recognizes irreducible differences in the way people respond to various traumas and is sensitive to the genuinely variable way in which women can heal themselves, it represents real progress beyond the homogeneous, universalizing approach yhe sets out one road for all to follow.

Such a view has no necessary relationship to idealism, but it allows us to understand how the social location of the speaker can be said to bear on truth.

Those who are not in a position of speaking at all cannot retreat from an action they do not employ.

The Problem of Speaking For Others |

It is not always the case that when others unlike me speak for me I have ended up worse off, or that when we speak for others they end up worse off. Some have come forward as former workers, but I wonder what impact that has on their careers and on their conceptualizations of their spaces as otherz.


And an important implication of this claim is that meaning must be understood as plural and shifting, since a single text can engender diverse meanings given diverse contexts.

This insistence is not based on a commitment to transparent accounts of representation or a correspondence theory of truth, but on my belief that the demarcation between epistemically better and worse claims continues to operate indeed, it is inevitable and that what happens when we eschew all epistemological issues of truth is that probem terms upon which those demarcations are made go unseen and uncontested.

President George Bush declares in a public address that Noriega’s actions constitute an “outrageous fraud” and that “the voice of the Panamanian people have spoken.

On the Problem of Speaking for Others

In other words, some persons are accorded discursive authority because they are respected leaders or because they are teachers in a classroom and know more about the material at hand. University of Illinois Press, But this development should not be taken as an absolute dis-authorization of all practices of speaking for. On this view, truth is about a realm completely independent of human action and expresses things “as they are in themselves,” that is, free of human interpretation.

Arising not from monolithic design but from an interplay of factors and forces, it is best understood not as a discrete, definable position which can be adopted or rejected, but as an emerging coherence which is being fed by a variety of currents, sometimes overlapping, sometimes quite distinct.

But as Maria Lugones and others have forcefully argued, such an act serves no good end when it is used as a disclaimer against one’s ignorance or errors and is made without critical interrogation of the bearing of such an autobiography on what is about to be said. I agree with a great deal of Trebilcot’s argument. In fact, it may be impossible to speak for another without simultaneously conferring information about them.

Find it on Scholar. There is an ambiguity in the two phrases: The dominant modernist view has been that truth represents a relationship of correspondence between a proposition and an extra-discursive reality. However, the problem of speaking for others is more specific than the problem of representation generally, and requires its own particular analysis. Joyce Trebilcot’s version of the retreat response, which I mentioned at the outset of this essay, raises other issues.


The Problem of Speaking for Others by Karen Lo on Prezi

I do a lot of work on disability studies and MUVEs, using interviews and focus groups as source material.

The answers to these questions will certainly depend on who is asking them. Given that the context of hearers is partially determinant, the speaker is not the master or teh of the situation.

It is the latter sources of authority that I am referring to by the term “privilege. Given this, we have to pay careful attention to the discursive arrangement in order to understand the full meaning of any given discursive event. Intersectionality in Philosophy of Gender, Race, and Sexuality.

For example, if a middle class white man were to begin a speech by sharing with us this autobiographical information and then using it as a kind of apologetics for any limitations of his speech, this would leave to those of us in the audience who do not share his social location all the problwm of translating his terms into our own, apprising the applicability of his analysis to our diverse situation, and otuers the substantive relevance of his location on his claims.

This is not thf suggest that all representations are fictions: And this effect will continue until the U. But this does not tell us how groups themselves should be delimited.

The point here is that the problem of representation underlies all cases of speaking for, whether I wlcoff speaking for myself or for others. The remainder of this paper will try to contribute toward developing that possibility.