(1996) Human Studies 19 (2).

Grounding agency in depth

the implications of Merleau-Ponty's thought for the politics of feminism

Helen Fielding

pp. 175-184

While poststructuralist feminist theorists have clarified our understanding of the gendered subject as produced through a matrix of language, culture, and psycho-sexual affects, they have found agency difficult to ground. I argue that this is because in these theories the body has served primarily as an inscribed surface. In response to this surface body, particular to this age, I have turned to Merleau-Ponty's concept of depth which allows us to theorize the agency crucial to feminist politics. While the poststructuralists' rejection of depth is largely due to its roots in Cartesian rationality, depth is much more than this. Rather than allowing for the impossibility of political action, depth means that as bodily moving and acting subjects we are part of Being, and thus part of the questions raised in this age, even if it is a mark of this age that this tends to be forgotten.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/BF00131492

Full citation:

Fielding, H. (1996). Grounding agency in depth: the implications of Merleau-Ponty's thought for the politics of feminism. Human Studies 19 (2), pp. 175-184.

This document is unfortunately not available for download at the moment.