Amerikastudien : Amst ; a quarterly = American studies
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When Judith Butler's Gender Trouble appeared in German translation in 1991, the book launched a heated debate among German academic feminists about the status of gender as a category of analysis, and about the future of feminist theory. Tue anxieties were quite fundamental. Is "gender" a category of "nature" or "culture"? And if its "nature" is entirely cultural, a social construction, how can we then speak and act in the name of a gender, i.e., in the name of women? Much of this debate was coded as a conflict between different feminist generations. This trope of "generation" served as a strategy of displacement: "queer issues" figured as a kind of absent/present threat haunting the coherence of Gender Studies as a legitimate field of knowledge, but they were hardly made an explicit subject of discussion. This essay will look at the conscious and unconscious levels of discourse: What is the "positive unconscious" of the socalled "Butler debate"? Who gets to say what and how? What defines an "intelligible" object of study? Who gets to define it? In short, what is the "order of things" that frames discourse? Even if queer theory has had no manifest impact on the definition of Women's and Gender Studies, how did the specter of "queer" structure feminist theory on an unconscious level? And above all, what does all this mean for the future of German academic feminism(s)?
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