“Of Politics, Aesthetics, and Guilty Subjects”


In her recent book Object Lessons, Robyn Wiegman invites those of us working in identity based studies—that is, fields such as Queer Studies, Women’s Studies, Intersectionality, Ethnic Studies—to ponder our disciplines’ “field imaginary”—the often taken for granted, “unconscious” assumptions that provide the conditions of possibility of our work. Arguing that “the operation of the political within identity-based fields has not been sufficiently engaged,” (13), she concludes that we have not sufficiently attended to our assumption that “if we only find the right discourse, object of study, or analytical tool, our critical practice will be adequate to the political commitments that inspire it” (2-3). Wiegman’s book is an attempt to do so. The remainder of the book is divided into chapters that each examine the unexamined disciplinary logics that animate a particular identity-based knowledge.

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