Saying it otherwise: Levinas, Lorde and a contestation of the master’s tools

Aktivität: VorträgeVortragScience to Science


In this talk, I will link two figures whose connection has not previously been examined in a comprehensive manner: Audre Lorde and Emmanuel Levinas. Lorde, trailblazer of intersectional feminisms through her essays, speeches and poems, will be set in conversation with Levinas, jewish-French phenomenologist. Levinas states that we should let go of individualist ethics in favor of considering the other as key to our becoming subjects, suspending classical subject-object-hierarchies. I will show that the thought behind Levinas’ argumentation is his dismissal of the European concept of logos, a cosmic reason splitting being and representation to create intelligibility. Rather, his thinking runs along the lines of davar, the hebrew word often misinterpreted as the equivalent to logos, yet signifying the much more open „could always be otherwise“ (Grosz 1989:157). I will show that davar, „indistinguishable both word and thing“ (Ibd.), does not partake in the distancing of word and world that is, so Levinas, harmfully evident in individualist and dismissive approaches to the other. I will use Lorde’s writing as an example of how poetic practices, especially those stemming from phenomenal experiences such as racism, sexism, homophobia and so forth, already embody the notion of davar in the „almost nuclear bonding of the poet with the materiality of [her*]his trade“ (Heller 2005:151). By pointing out parallels between Lorde’s writings and Levinas’ ethics, I will show how creative re-readings of canonical texts and a critique of fundamental categories of thought can create new tools to „dismantle the master’s house“ (Lorde 2007:112). Grosz, Elizabeth (1989): Sexual Subversions. Three French Feminists. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Heller, Michael (2005): Uncertain Poetries: Selected Essays on Poets, Poetry and Poetics. Cambridge: Salt Publishing. Lorde, Audre (2007): Sister Outsider. Essays & Speeches by Audre Lorde. Berkeley: Crossing Press
Zeitraum29 Mai 2021
EreignistitelCreative Bodies - Creative Minds Conference
OrtGraz, ÖsterreichAuf Karte anzeigen