question of what it means to speak for an-other. I explore that question in relation to philosophers like Linda Alcoff, Iris Marion Young, and Gayatri Spivak, and. ; 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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James Clifford and George E. These are feminist texts, and yet I write in ways that are frequently critical of them. Conclusion This issue is complicated by the variable way in which the importance of the source, or location of the author, can be understood, a topic alluded to earlier.


Linda Martin Alcoff, The problem of speaking for others – PhilPapers

In anthropology there is similar discussion about whether it is possible to speak for others either adequately or justifiably. Prpblem who are not in a position of speaking at all cannot retreat from an action they do not employ. Feminist scholarship has a liberatory agenda which almost requires that women scholars speak on behalf of other women, and yet the dangers of speaking across differences of race, culture, sexuality, and power are becoming increasingly clear to all. New York University Press.

I hope that this analysis will contribute toward rather than diminish the important discussion going on today about how to develop strategies for a more equitable, just distribution of the ability to speak and be heard. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: Ultimately, the question of speaking for others bears crucially on the possibility of political effectivity. Hegel, for example, understood truth as an te in difference” between subjective and objective elements.

While some of us may want to undermine, for example, the U.

On the Problem of Speaking for Others

George Marcus and Michael Fischer Chicago: The content of the claim, or its meaning, emerges in interaction between words and hearers within a very specific historical situation. Who is speaking to whom turns out to be as important for meaning and truth as what is said; in fact what is said turns out to change according to who is speaking and who is listening.


Yet the effects of the two statements are vastly different because the meaning of the claim changes radically depending on who states it. So often, of course, the authority of such persons based on their merit combines with the authority they may enjoy by virtue of their having the dominant gender, race, class, or sexuality. They explore the effects this has had on the making of theory within feminism, and attempt to find “ways of talking or being talked about that are helpful, illuminating, empowering, respectful.

The Problem of Speaking For Others |

Thus, the problem with speaking for others exists in the very structure of discursive practice, irrespective of its content, and subverting the hierarchical rituals of speaking will always have some liberatory effects. In feminist magazines such as Sojournerit is common to find articles and letters in which the author states that she can only speak for herself. However, this objection presupposes a particular conception of truth, one in which the truth of a statement can be distinguished from its interpretation and its acceptance.

Menchu’s efforts to speak for the 33 Indian communities facing genocide in Guatemala have helped to raise money for the revolution and bring pressure against the Guatemalan and U. One may be speaking about another as an advocate or a messenger if the person cannot speak for herself. Interview with Andrew Feenberg.

On another view, the original speaker or writer is no more privileged than any other person who articulates these views, and in fact the “author” cannot be identified in a strict sense because the concept of author is an ideological construction many abstractions removed from the way in which ideas emerge speaing become material forces.

However, we must begin to ask ourselves whether this is ever a legitimate authority, and if so, what are the criteria for legitimacy? Still, we can know some of the effects our speech generates: Rather, the rituals of speaking call our attention to the contexts in which speaking and being heard are made possible. She may even feel justified in akcoff her privileged capacity for personal happiness at the expense of others on the linxa that she has no alternative.


The Problem of Speaking For Others

Moreover, making the decision for oneself whether or not to otherrs is an extension or application of privilege, not an abdication of it. This was published in Cultural Critique Winterpp.

Moreover, the concept of groups assumes specious notions about clear-cut boundaries and “pure” identities. First I want to consider the argument that the very formulation of the problem with speaking for others involves a retrograde, metaphysically insupportable essentialism that assumes one can read off the truth and meaning of what one says straight from the discursive context.

The use of the term “Indian” here follows Menchu’s use. This is simply what less-privileged persons have always had to do for ourselves when reading the history of philosophy, literature, etc. I think of a panel discussion I attended last year on the Occupy movement, held in a large lecture hall. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg Chicago: Joyce Trebilcot’s version of the retreat response, which I mentioned at the outset of this essay, raises other issues.

If I should not speak for others, should I restrict myself to following their lead uncritically? For, in speaking for myself, I am also representing my self in a certain way, as occupying a specific subject-position, having certain characteristics and not others, and so on. And this public self will in most cases have an effect on the self experienced as interiority.