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New Left Review I/228, March-April 1998

Nancy Fraser

Heterosexism, Misrecognition and Capitalism: A Response to Judith Butler

Judith Butler’s essay is welcome on several counts. [1] I am grateful for helpful comments from Laura Kipnis, Linda Nicholson, and Eli Zaretsky. This essay was originally published in Social Text, nos. 52–53, Fall/Winter 1997, pp. 279–89. It is a reply to Judith Butler’s essay, ‘Merely Cultural’, published in Social Text and in nlr 227. It returns us to deep and important questions in social theory that have gone undiscussed for some time. And it links a reflection on such questions to a diagnosis of the troubled state of the Left in the current political conjuncture. Most important, however, is Butler’s commitment in this essay to identifying, and retrieving, the genuinely valuable aspects of Marxism and the socialist feminism of the 1970s, which current intellectual and political fashions conspire to repress. Also exemplary is her interest in integrating the best insights of those paradigms with defensible strands of more recent paradigms, including discourse analysis, cultural studies, and poststructuralism, in order to understand contemporary capitalism. These are commitments I wholeheartedly share.

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