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Recognition and Global PoliticsCritical encounters between state and world$
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Patrick Hayden and Kate Schick

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781784993337

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784993337.001.0001

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Ambiguity, Existence, Cosmopolitanism: Simone de Beauvoir and a Global Theory of Feminist Recognition

Ambiguity, Existence, Cosmopolitanism: Simone de Beauvoir and a Global Theory of Feminist Recognition

Chapter:
(p.45) 3 Ambiguity, Existence, Cosmopolitanism: Simone de Beauvoir and a Global Theory of Feminist Recognition
Source:
Recognition and Global Politics
Author(s):

Monica Mookherjee

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781784993337.003.0003

This chapter critically assesses the ability of Nancy Fraser’s status model of recognition to foster an international, or ‘cosmopolitan’, feminist theory of recognition. Fraser’s tripartite account of recognition, redistribution and political representation supports women’s empowerment as cosmopolitan agents of their own needs, rights and choices world-wide. However, Fraser’s objectivist understanding of misrecognition as status subordination fails to acknowledge the importance of lived experience of social suffering and injustice. The chapter therefore turns to Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘ethic of ambiguity’ to counter these problems and to reformulate our understanding of recognition. This approach emphasizes the tension between the human freedom to choose and the body, materiality and circumstances that perpetually constrain this freedom. Arguing that Beauvoir’s account of lived, embodied social suffering comprises two distinct ‘moments’ of gender misrecognition, namely the ‘suppressed potentiality’ and ‘resistance within commonality’ moments, the chapter argues that her philosophy sheds more light than is commonly thought on the way in which diverse women experience globalization today. The chapter concludes that Beauvoir’s emphasis on ambiguity points to cosmopolitan hope that consciousness of our essential ambiguity as human beings will form the basis for solidarity with those who exist beyond liberal rights or struggles for cultural recognition.

Keywords:   ambiguity, existence, cosmopolitanism, Beauvoir, rights, feminism, globalization

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