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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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. Moreover, the concept of groups assumes specious notions about clear-cut boundaries and “pure” identities. Thanks so much for this amazing reflection! The feminist movement in the U. Thus, one woman’s experience of sexual alcogf, its effect on her and her interpretation of it, should not be taken as a universal generalization to aloff others must subsume or conform their experience.

The Problem of Speaking for Others by Karen Lo on Prezi

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.

After the elections in Panama are overturned by Manuel Noriega, U.

In her important paper, “Dyke Methods,” Joyce Trebilcot offers a philosophical articulation of this view. But it seems to me that the importance of the source of a view, and the importance of doing a genealogy, should be subsumed within an overall analysis of effects, making the central question what the effects are of the view on material and discursive practices through which it traverses and the particular configuration of power relations emergent from these.

If one’s immediate impulse is to teach rather than listen to a less-privileged speaker, one should resist that impulse long enough to interrogate it carefully. This effect occurs because the speaker is positioned as authoritative and empowered, as the knowledgeable subject, while the group in the Third World is reduced, merely because of the structure of the speaking practice, to an object and victim that must be championed from afar. Thus, the effect of a U. 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.

This was part of the argument made against Anne Cameron’s speaking for Native women: Lee – – Hypatia 26 2: 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. This simply follows from the fact that the evaluations will be based on the specific elements of historical discursive context, location of speakers and hearers, and so forth.


Only published works are available at libraries. For instance, after I vehemently defended Barbara Christian’s article, “The Race for Theory,” a male friend who had a different evaluation of the piece couldn’t help raising the possibility of whether a sort of apologetics structured my response, motivated by a desire to valorize African American writing against all odds. The declaration that I “speak only for myself” has the sole effect of allowing me to avoid responsibility and accountability for my effects on others; it cannot literally erase those effects.

On the Problem of Speaking for Others

Links Contact Blog Online Writing. Location and positionality should not be conceived as one-dimensional or static, but as multiple and with varying degrees of mobility. They argue for the relevance of location, not its singular power of determination, and problej are non-committal on how to construe the metaphysics of location. A plethora of sources have argued in this century that the neutrality of the theorizer can no longer, can never again, be a,coff, even for a moment.

Request removal from index. Each line had people in it.

Though speakking speaker may be trying to materially improve the situation of some lesser-privileged group, one of the effects of her discourse is to reenforce racist, imperialist conceptions and perhaps also to further silence the lesser-privileged group’s own ability to speak and be heard.

Yet the effects of the two statements are vastly different because the meaning of the claim changes radically depending on who states it. These are by no means original: I think of a panel discussion I attended last year on the Occupy movement, held in a large lecture hall.

In post-structuralist terms, I am participating in the construction of their subject-positions rather than simply discovering their true selves.

In order to evaluate attempts to speak for others in particular instances, we need to analyze the probable or actual effects of the words on the discursive and material context. However, while there is much theoretical and practical work to be done to develop such alternatives, the practice of speaking for others remains the best option in some existing situations. In conclusion, I seaking stress that the practice of speaking for others is often born of a tye for mastery, to privilege oneself as the one who more correctly understands the truth about another’s situation or as one who can champion a just cause and thus achieve glory and praise.

I do wonder who gets to speak and of what—what stories and personal experiences are told particularly as studied and discussed in academic environments and which are relegated to the dark recesses of oblivion or pop-culture. This claim requires us to shift the ontology of meaning from its location in a text or utterance to a larger space, a space which includes the text or utterance but which also includes the discursive context.


Anthropology’s Interlocutors” Critical Inquiry 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.

Not sure if I’m contributing, but I think you bring up some really important othdrs in you review, Liz. These examples demonstrate the range of current practices of speaking for others in our society. The answers to these questions will certainly depend on who is asking them.

And an important implication of this claim is that meaning must be understood as plural and aloff, since a single text can engender diverse meanings given diverse contexts. A further problem with the “Retreat” response is that it may be motivated by alcofc desire to find a method or practice immune from criticism.

This conflation was intentional on my part, because spesking is difficult to distinguish speaking about from speaking for in all cases. For example, in a situation where a well-meaning First world person is speaking for a person or group in the Third world, the very discursive arrangement may reinscribe the “hierarchy of civilizations” view where the U.

Thus, to promote “listening to” as opposed to speaking for essentializes the oppressed as non-ideologically constructed subjects.

When the president of the United States stands before the world passing judgement on a Third World government, and criticizing it on the basis of corruption and a lack of democracy, the immediate effect of this statement, as opposed to the Opposition’s, is to reenforce the prominent Anglo view that Latin American corruption is the primary cause of the region’s poverty and lack of democracy, that the U. But a retreat from speaking for will not result in an increase in receptive listening in all cases; it may result merely in a retreat into a narcissistic yuppie lifestyle in which a privileged person takes no responsibility for her society whatsoever.

When she got to the microphone, she stated that she had observed the gender disparity in who was lining up to speak, and encouraged other women to ask questions. Sign in to use this feature. The way I have articulated this problem may imply that individuals make conscious choices about their discursive practice free of ideology and the constraints of material reality.

I am a Panamanian-American and a person of mixed ethnicity and race: