What really matters? The elusive quality of the material in feminist thought

Momin Rahman, A. Witz

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    The concept of the 'material' was the focus of much feminist work in the 1970s. It has always been a deeply contested one, even for feminists working within a broadly materialist paradigm of the social. Materialist feminists stretched the concept of the material beyond the narrowly economic in their attempts to develop a social ontology of gender and sexuality. Nonetheless, the quality of the social asserted by an expanded sense of the material - its 'materiality' - remains ambiguous. New terminologies of materiality and materialization have been developed within post-structuralist feminist thought and the literature on embodiment. The quality of 'materiality' is no longer asserted - as in materialist feminisms - but is problematized through an implicit deferral of ontology in these more contemporary usages, forcing us to interrogate the limits of both materialist and post-structuralist forms of constructionism. What really matters is how these newer terminologies of 'materiality' and 'materialization' induce us to develop a fuller social ontology of gender and sexuality; one that weaves together social, cultural, experiential and embodied practices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)243-261
    Number of pages18
    JournalFeminist Theory
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • effectivity
    • gender
    • material
    • materiality
    • materialization
    • ontology
    • sexuality


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