Amy Allen

The Politics of Ourselves

Back Cover Blurb: Some critical theorists understand the self as constituted by power relations, while others insist upon the self's autonomous capacities for critical reflection and deliberate self-transformation. Up to now, it has all too often been assumed that these two understandings of the self are incompatible. In her bold new book, Amy Allen argues that the capacity for autonomy is rooted in the very power relations that constitute the self.

Allen's theoretical framework illuminates both aspects of what she calls, following Foucault, the "politics of our selves." It analyzes power in all its depth and complexity, including the complicated phenomenon of subjection, without giving up on the ideal of autonomy. Drawing on original and critical readings of a diverse group of theorists, including Michel Foucault, Jurgen Habermas, Judith Butler, and Seyla Benhabib, Allen shows how the self can be both constituted by power and capable of an autonomous self-constitution. Her argument is a significant and vital contribution to feminist theory and to critical social theory, both of which have long grappled with the relationship between power and agency.

If critical theory is to be truly critical, Allen argues, it will have to pay greater attention to the phenomenon of subjection, and will have to think through the challenges that the notion of subjection poses for the critical-theoretical conception of autonomy. In particular, Allen discusses in detail how the normative aspirations of Habermasian critical theory need to be recast in light of Foucault's and Butler's account of subjection. This book is original both in its attempt to think of power and autonomy simultaneously and in its effort to bring the work of Foucault and Habermas into a productive dialogue.

The Power of Feminist Theory

Back Cover Blurb: Power is clearly a crucial concept for feminist theory. Insofar as feminists are interested in analyzing power, it is because they have an interest in understanding, critiquing, and ultimately challenging the multiple array of unjust power relations affecting women in contemporary Western societies, including sexism, racism, heterosexism, and class oppression.In The Power of Feminist Theory, Amy Allen diagnoses the inadequacies of previous feminist conceptions of power, and draws on the work of a diverse group of theorists of power, including Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Hannah Arendt, in order to construct a new feminist conception of power. The conception of power developed in this book enables readers to theorize domination, resistance, and solidarity, and, perhaps more importantly, to do so in a way that illuminates the interrelatedness of these three modalities of power.







selected articles:

"Power and the Politics of Difference" Hypatia 23:3 (Summer 2008): 157-172. link to article

"Discourse, Power and Subjectivation" Philosophical Forum 40:1 (Spring 2009): 1-29. link to article

“Systematically Distorted Subjectivity?  Habermas and the Critique of Power,” (with comments by James Swindal) Philosophy and Social Criticism 33: 5 (July 2007):  641-65.  link to article

“Dependency, Subordination, and Recognition: On Judith Butler’s Theory of Subjection,” Continental Philosophy Review 38: 3-4 (October 2005):  199-222. link to article

“Feminist Perspectives on Power,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2005 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). link to article

“Foucault and Enlightenment:  A Critical Reappraisal,” Constellations 10: 2 (June 2003):  180-198. link to article

“Pornography and Power,” Journal of Social Philosophy 32: 4 (Winter 2001):  512-531.  link to article.

“The Anti-Subjective Hypothesis:  Michel Foucault and the Death of the Subject,” The Philosophical Forum 31: 2 (Summer 2000):  113-130. link to article

“Solidarity after Identity Politics:  Hannah Arendt and the Power of Feminist Theory,” Philosophy and Social Criticism 25: 1 (January 1999):  97-118. link to article

“Power Trouble:  Performativity as Critical Theory,” Constellations 5: 4 (December 1998):  456-471. link to article 

“Rethinking Power,” Hypatia 13: 1 (Winter 1998):  21-40.  link to article


curriculum vitae

curriculum vitae:

Download Amy Allen's C.V. (pdf)

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