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Feminism versus Multiculturalism

Leti Volpp
Columbia Law Review
Vol. 101, No. 5 (Jun., 2001), pp. 1181-1218
DOI: 10.2307/1123774
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1123774
Page Count: 38
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Feminism versus Multiculturalism
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Abstract

To posit feminism and multiculturalism as oppositional is to assume that minority women are victims of their cultures. This assumption, as Professor Volpp illustrates in this Essay, is achieved by a discursive strategy that constructs gender subordination as integral only to certain cultures. She traces the origins of the ubiquitous claim that minority and Third World cultures are more subordinating than culture in the West to the history of colonialism, the origins of liberalism, depictions of the feminist subject, and the use of binary logic. Pitting feminism against multiculturalism has certain consequences: It obscures the influences that in fact shape cultural practices, hides the forces besides culture that affect women's lives, elides the way women exercise agency within patriarchy, and masks the level of violence within the United States. Professor Volpp concludes by suggesting a basis for a constructive dialogue beyond the discourse of feminism versus multiculturalism.

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