question of what it means to speak for an-other. I explore that question in relation to philosophers like Linda Alcoff, Iris Marion Young, and Gayatri Spivak, and. ; revised and reprinted in Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity edited by Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman, University of Illinois Press, ; and . The Problem of Speaking for Others. Author(s): Linda Alcoff. Source: Cultural Critique, No. 20 (Winter, ), pp. Published by: University of.

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Any statement will invoke the structures of power allied with the social location of the speaker, aside from the speaker’s intentions or attempts to avoid such invocations. It is an illusion that I can separate from others to such an extent that I can avoid affecting them. This point might be conceded by those who admit to the political mutability of interpretationbut they might continue to maintain that truth is a different matter altogether.

To answer this, we must become clearer on the epistemological and metaphysical claims which are implicit in the articulation of the problem. In anthropology there is similar discussion about whether it is possible to speak for others either adequately or justifiably. In other words, the claim that I can speak only for myself assumes the autonomous conception of the self in Classical Liberal theory–that I am unconnected to others in my authentic self or that I can achieve an autonomy from others given certain conditions.

I can find out, for example, that the people I spoke for are angry that I did so or appreciative. I want to develop this point by elucidating four sets of interrogatory practices which are meant to help evaluate possible and actual instances of speaking for. For example, can a white woman speak for all women simply by virtue of being a woman? These are by no means original: They explore the effects this has had on the making of theory within feminism, and attempt to find “ways of talking or being talked about that are helpful, illuminating, empowering, respectful.

If I should not speak for others, should I restrict myself to following their lead uncritically? The need for an interrogation of one’s location exists with every discursive event by any speaker, but given the lopsidedness of current “dialogues” it seems especially important to push for this among the privileged, who sometimes seem to want to study everybody’s social and cultural construction but their own.


Now let us look at the second premise. Now, sometimes I think this is the proper response to the problem of speaking for others, depending on who is making it. Sometimes, I worry sometimes that my criticism overrides what I see as the value of these texts.

Linda Martin Alcoff, The problem of speaking for others – PhilPapers

The phrase “bears on” here should speakingg some variable amount of influence short of determination or fixing. On one view, the author of a text is its “owner” and “originator” credited with creating its ideas and with being their authoritative interpreter. That reminds me of a personal experience I had once in a group of people.

This created an impetus to reconfigure the ontology of truth, from a locus outside human interpretation to one within it. There are two premises implied by the articulation of the problem, and unpacking these should advance our understanding of the issues involved.

On the Problem of Speaking for Others – Hook & Eye

The “ritual of speaking” as defined above in which an utterance is located fo bears on meaning and truth such that there is no possibility of rendering positionality, location, or context irrelevant to content. This simply follows from the fact that the evaluations will be based on the specific elements of historical discursive context, location of speakers and hearers, and so forth.

It is the latter sources aldoff authority that I am referring to by the term “privilege.

In her important paper, “Dyke Methods,” Joyce Trebilcot offers a philosophical articulation of this view. When she got to the microphone, she stated that she had observed the gender disparity in who was lining up to speak, and encouraged other women to ask questions. Trebilcot is explaining here her own reasoning for rejecting these practices, but she is not advocating that other women join her in this.

We may experience hesitation from fear of being criticized or from fear of exacerbating a problem we would like to remedy, or we may experience a resolve to speak despite existing obstacles, but in many cases we experience forr the possibility to speak or not to speak.


The Problem of Speaking For Others

In the next section I shall consider some of the principal responses offered to the problem of speaking for others. This loss of control may speeaking taken by some speakers to mean that no speaker can be held accountable for her discursive actions. Added to PP index Total downloads 10, of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 31 13, of 2, How can I increase my downloads?

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Dennett – – Raritan 9: Others have been taught the opposite and will speak haltingly, with apologies, if they speak at all. The use of the alclff “Indian” here follows Menchu’s use. Rowman and Littlefield, There is one final point I want to make before we can pursue this analysis.

Cameron’s intentions were never in question, but the effects of her writing were argued to be harmful to the needs of Native authors because it is Cameron rather than they who will be listened to and whose books othefs be bought by readers interested in Native women. I agree with her on this point but I would emphasize also that ignoring the subaltern’s or oppressed person’s speech is, as she herself notes, “to continue the imperialist project.

Such a concept would require truth to be independent of the speakers’ or listeners’ embodied and perspectival location. Given that truth is connected to politics, these political differences between locations will produce epistemic lindda as well.

Adequate research will be a necessary but insufficient criterion of evaluation. There can be no complete or definitive solution to the problem of speaking for others, but there is a possibility that its dangers can be decreased. President George Bush declares in a public address that Noriega’s actions constitute an “outrageous fraud” and that “the voice of the Panamanian people have spoken. Lee – – Hypatia 26 2: Source is relevant only to the extent that it has an impact on effect.

In speaking about theories or ideas that gain prominence, she says: