|Full text PDF:||10.17192/mjr.1997.2.3775;|
Several years ago, feminist theorist Nancy Hartsock illuminated the central weakness of postmodernist theory with a simple question: ''Why is it, exactly at the moment when so many of us who have been silenced begin to demand the right to name ourselves, to act as subjects rather than objects of history, that just then the concept of subjecthood becomes 'problematic'?'1 Although posed from a specifically feminist perspective, Hartsock's question touches the underlying regressive political tendencies of postmodernism which come to light most vividly in its treatment of Enlightenment conceptualizations of subjectivity, or human agency, and its role in the production of history. The repudiation of the subject and autonomous moral agency occupies a central place in postmodern thought. Its firm insistence on the 'death of the subject' has disturbing political and ethical implications not only for women and their struggles for freedom, but for any subjugated group. Rosi Braidotti's description of postmodernism's regressive and oppressive tendencies is valid beyond the concerns of an emancipatory feminist theory: 'contemporary philosophical discussions on the death of the knowing subject...have the immediate effect of concealing and undermining the attempts of women to find a theoretical voice of their own...in order to deconstruct the subject one must first have gained the right to speak as one.'