Volume 4 (2015)
The fourth volume of the Journal of Badiou Studies considers the potential that Badiou’s thinking harbors for both feminist and queer theories. Despite the fact that there has been very little feminist engagement with Badiou’s philosophy, and even less queer work on him, it is arguable that the lineaments of a queer Badiouian feminism can be discovered both in the work itself and its take-up by feminist and queer critics. Badiou’s own writings have a complicated relationship with and to queer feminism given that, as many feminist critics have pointed out, Badiou seems to lapse into positions, wittingly or not, which could be construed as heteronormative, phallocentric, transphobic or heterosexist. Yet, on the other hand, we have Badiou’s theories of the subject and his appeal in Being and Event to the female symbol (♀) as figuring a new world, ♀ figuring the situation that will have been, from the perspective of S, after the truth of ♀ has been forced. As well as this work on the generic, there are the essays on the scene of love, sexuality and the couple, which refer not only to heterosexual love. In terms of anti-identitarian queer theories, Badiou’s understanding of love suggests that there are a number of acts that any person can perform or positions that they can take up which do not solidify into identities.
JBS 4 seeks to address the potentials and pitfalls of Badiou’s work for feminist and queer theories. In staging such a mutually enriching encounter we suggest that feminist and queer political thought stands to gain something from this set of rapprochements with Badiou; feminist and queer thinking may be reoriented by the latter so as to escape the menace of reactionary identity politics and refuse any continuity with democratic materialism, without simply lapsing into the sort of false universalism that queer and feminist thought has done so much to dismantle. To paraphrase Badiou from Theory of the Subject, ‘Marxism is the discourse with which the proletarian sustains itself as subject. We must never let go of this idea’. The premise of this issue is that ‘it is by putting Badiou to work in this way that we can conceive feminism as the discourse with which woman sustains herself as subject. We must never let go of this idea’.