Feminist Histories: Conflict, Coalitions and the Maternal Order
Gillian Howie is senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Liverpool. Her most recent book isBetween Feminism and Materialism: A Question of Method (2010). She has co-edited Gender, Teaching and Research in Higher Education (Ashgate 2002); Third Wave Feminism (2004); Menstruation (2005) and Women and the Divine (2008), all with Palgrave. Along with Linda Alcoff, she also edits ‘Breaking Feminist Waves’, an exciting new Palgrave series that publishes monographs and collected editions on feminist theory.
In this paper, I argue that the image of maternity can, paradoxically, release us from the theoretical model whereby the women’s movement is presented in terms of generation, stages or waves. Within Luce Irigaray’s account of the Maternal Order, we can find an ethics of conversation that opens a dialogue between women, a way to engage with, appreciate and relate to differences. This dialogue, cutting across generations and waves, is not only the condition of the theory of feminist history but also the condition of history itself.