"Habiter la contradiction" - Genevieve Fraisse, workshop

Thursday, March 29, 2018, at 10.30 AM, In the presence and with the participation of Geneviève Fraisse Add to my calendar

Two study days in Paris - Spring 2018
On the 29th of March at the Fondation d'Entreprise Ricard and on the 30th of March at Centre d’Etudes du Vivant, University Paris Diderot

Inhabiting contradiction: uses and transmission of Geneviève Fraisse's thought, « the philosopher as peddler »

Designed by Les Vagues[1] collective

Call for contributions: 

We wish to approach Geneviève Fraisse's work starting from the way we use it, from the different sites we occupy – be they artistic, militant, pedagogical, intimate, domestic, epistemological. 
We are organizing the present study days in the continuity of this approach. We are seizing the opportunity of several reeditions of Genevièce Fraisse's work (Muse de la Raison (Folio Gallimard), Du Consentement (Le Seuil) and La Fabrique du féminisme (Passager clandestin)) to present those two study days with her.

Contributions are open to artists, activists and researchers in all fields, with a particular attention to philosophy, feminist studies, art history and visual studies. A 3000 signs (max) abstract must be submitted in English or French to  groupe.les.vagues@gmail.com before January 15 2018.

The seminar: 

Geneviève Fraisse, Emeritus Research Director at the CNRS (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique) has produced a philosophical body of work stemming from historical material. She has brought new feminist genealogies to light and engaged in dialogues with either isolated or well-recognised works, from Poullain de la Barre to Simone de Beauvoir and Germaine de Staël. She argues that the French Revolution, born from universalism, was paradoxically both the starting point of the conceptualization of women's place in public matters, and of their exclusion from the political field — what  Fraisse calls « exclusive democracy ».

For several years now, Fraisse's thought has spread out of the academic world. It is the sign of a new French-speaking perspective on gender studies, while the past two decades years have been marked by North American models.

An intellectual and an activist, Geneviève Fraisse has been an important figure in the Women's Liberation Movement (Mouvement de Libération des Femmes). She also was an inter-ministerial delegate on women's rights (1997-1998) and a Member of the European Parliament (1999-2004). As a researcher, a woman and an activist, she has developed a radical mode of thinking that is being reactivated by today's political questionings.

The study days Inhabiting contradiction: uses and transmission (« peddling philosophy ») of Geneviève Fraisse's thought will be the opportunity to examine philosophical contributions to gender studies in France, assert the reappropriation of public debate as an emancipatory practice, starting from non-dogmatic logics as well as demanding that concepts be questioned over and over.

We would like to examine the following three axes[2] :

1)      Historicity: time shifting in feminism

Geneviève Fraisse's genealogical reflection and her work about intellectual debates regarding women in the 17th, 18th, 19th centuries show that keeping women out of the intellectual and political activities was a slow, steady, and mostly violent fight. In Reason's Muse, the philosopher argues that this intellectal debate was about envisioning women as fundamentally ahistorical beings. Historical work thus enables us to go against the idea of ‘woman’ as anachronistic category.

Therefore, we will specifically pay attention to contributions examining works from a historical viewpoint.

2)      Lineage: creating genealogies, appropriation and re-appropriation of concepts and discourses

With Foucauld on her mind, Geneviève Fraisse raises the question of what is transmitted to us via the archive. Her work allows us to examine contemporary issues such as the veil, prostitution, parity, etc., from a historical perspective. Before tackling issues, intellectuals should first examine their terminology, questioning the historical and philosophical relevance of words before considering them as concepts.

We wish to conduct an in-depth discussion on the major concepts of Fraisse's thought: sexuation, emancipation, pleasure, etc., and their use. Dialectical and/or genealogical contributions will therefore be examined with close attention.

3)      Emancipation

Deconstructing representations and alienating, excluding, marginalizing systems is an important step in the process of social, political and cultural change. Deconstruction, however, leaves no room for acting or thinking alternatively, as it leave dominant models in place as referents.

Alongside Jacques Rancière in Les Révoltes Logiques, Geneviève Fraisse initiated alternative thinking to institutionalized feminism and gender history. Her feminism refuses individualism and capitalism. Fraisse's genealogy offers us a way out of isolation and compels us to live and work within the contradictions of collective work and committment. Genevièce Fraisse describes herself as a « peddler » : her method of philsophical humility consists in bringing questions along, testing them in different situations and different contexts.

Selected bibliography of Geneviève Fraisse :

- Service ou servitude, essai sur les femmes toutes mains (1979), nouvelle édition augmentée, Le Bord de l'eau, Lormont, 2009.

- Reason's Muse: Sexual Difference and the Birth of Democracy, translated by Jane Marie Todd, University of Chicago press, 1994

- Muse de la raison, démocratie et exclusion des femmes en France (1989), édition augmentée d’un avant-propos « Une histoire française ? » et d’une postface « Démocratie exclusive, république masculine », Folio/Histoire-Gallimard, Paris, 1995.

- History of Women in the West, Volume IV: Emerging Feminism from Revolution to World War, translated by Arthur Goldhammer, series edited by Georges Duby and Michelle Perrot, Harvard University Press, 1993.

- Du consentement (2007), édition augmentée d’une postface « Et le refus de consentir ? », Seuil, Paris, 2017.

 - L’Europe des idées, suivi de « Touriste en démocratie, chronique d’une élue au Parlement européen, 1999-2004 » avec la collaboration de Christine Guedj, France Culture/ L’Harmattan, Paris, 2008.

- La Fabrique du féminisme, textes et entretiens, le Passager clandestin, Neuvy-en-Champagne, 2012.

- Les Excès du genre, concept, image, nudité, éditions Lignes, Paris, 2014.

- La Sexuation du monde, réflexions sur l'émancipation, Presses de Sciences Po, Paris, 2016.

[1] The work group Les Vagues is a feminist collective. Composed of visual arts professionals, the collective meets to think about and implement articulations between art, history of art, political culture and activism from an assertive viewpoint. The collective inventories, and spreads awareness about tools of positive change, and affirms feminist and egalitarian professional practices, with a close attention to social justice. Practicing an intersectional feminist epistemology in the art world means getting formats, discourses, social sciences tools (history of art, political sciences, philosophy, cultural studies) of activism (decolonial, LGBTQI+, queer, black feminism/afrofeminism) working with and within the processes and modalities of art.


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