Date of Degree

9-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Political Science

Advisor

Paisley Currah

Committee Members

Alyson Cole

Linda Martin Alcoff

Subject Categories

Courts | Epistemology | Feminist Philosophy | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Other Philosophy | Political Theory | Women's Studies

Keywords

Trans Studies, Transgender, Epistemic Justice, Trans Phenomenology, Queer Theory

Abstract

This dissertation is a critical intervention into the literatures on epistemic and phenomenological claims about trans experiences, and embodied knowledge more generally. It also addresses the conception of ordinary affects, or feelings of self-adjustment in everyday life, and their political implications for trans people. Traditional literatures on the political tend to avoid questions of embodiment and the experiences of everyday life in favor of institutional interpretations of courts, elections, and protest movements. This has become particularly true of scholarship on trans politics and theories of ordinary life. These literatures often reduce political movements to their presumed universal intentions for constitutional equality and legal parity. Theories of life, i.e., biopolitics and recent attention to neoliberalism, more often describes trans people as effects of power relations. Bodies are disciplined bodies otherwise evacuated of any sense of agency and being. In the most generalized instances, trans people are represented in two ways. On the one hand, they possess a liberal desire toward a normative life of assimilation. On the other hand, they are rebellious, possessing an anti-normative desire to abolish sex/gender binaries altogether. Each of these representations of trans people severely impairs understanding their how gender nonnormative forms of life actually live in under ordinary circumstances. These representations also reduce the richness of trans knowledge claims. Such commitments create the conditions for misunderstanding, and misreading, the complexities of trans histories, narratives, and even what it means to possess an embodied sense of selfhood. These misunderstandings create the conditions for many continued forms of epistemic injustice, a form of injustice that is characterized by the reduction of a person’s, or a group’s, capacity to engage in claiming knowledge about the world as well as the production of knowledge itself. Descending into what this dissertation calls the “trans ordinary” is a means for arguing that feeling, that is to say the live sensations during scenes of ordinary moments, serves as a co-present condition for knowing and thus making claims about the world. This work is a theory of feeling as knowing.

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