Project

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Unequal voices: Theorizing the politics of embodied voice

English title Unequal voices: Theorizing the politics of embodied voice
Applicant Michel Noémi
Number 177672
Funding scheme Advanced Postdoc.Mobility
Research institution Department of African American Studies University of Northwestern
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.09.2018 - 31.08.2019
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Keywords (9)

intersectionality; critical race theory; embodiment; postcolonial theory; political theory; democratic inclusion; democratic theory; political voice; gender theory

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
D’après le principe d’inclusion démocratique, chaque voix devrait compter. Or, au sein des démocraties occidentales, des inégalités persistent : certaines voix comptent moins que d’autres ou sont réduites au silence. Les minorités raciales et de genre, notamment, sont souvent incluses, mais pas réellement entendues au sein des différents espaces de débat et de prise de décision politiques.
Lay summary

Objectifs visés par le projet

Les voix sont portées par des corps qui sont différenciés et hiérarchisés notamment selon le genre et la race. Comment cette différenciation des corps impacte-t-elle la persistance des inégalités entre les voix ? Comment repenser l’inclusion démocratique si l’on prend au sérieux la dimension corporelle de la voix ?  Telles sont les deux questions – peu explorées au sein de la littérature politologique consacrée à  la voix – auxquelles ce projet veut répondre en adoptant une approche de théorie politique critique. Il développe ainsi un dialogue inédit entre les théories critiques de la démocratie, du genre, de la race et de la postcolonialité en privilégiant les pensées féministes noires – ces dernières étant incontournables pour penser les effets conjoints de la race et du genre.

Contexte scientifique et sociétal du projet de recherche

Ce projet contribue à la littérature en pleine expansion autour de l’intersectionnalité entre la race et le genre, ainsi qu’aux théories de la démocratie. En saisissant comment la constitution des corps influe sur l’audibilité de la voix, ce projet offrira des ressources pour les chercheur.e.s, mais aussi pour les praticiens qui s’interrogent sur les paradoxes des formes actuelles d’inclusion et cherchent à améliorer la vie démocratique dans des contextes marqués historiquement par les inégalités structurelles.

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 19.09.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
Racial Profiling und die Tabuisierung von »Rasse«
Michel Noémi (2019), Racial Profiling und die Tabuisierung von »Rasse«, in Wa Baile Mohamed, Dankwa Serena O., Naguib Tarek, Purtschert Patricia, Schilliger Sarah (ed.), transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, 87-106.
The Relationship between Blackness and Europeanness
MichelNoémi (2018), The Relationship between Blackness and Europeanness, Black Perspectives, blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), Pittsburgh, PA.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
The Swiss Association for Gender Studies biannual conference “Violent Times, Rising Protests. Structures, Experiences, and Feelings Individual talk Unsustainable Inclusion: a Black feminist Critique of Democracy 13.09.2019 Université de Berne, Switzerland Michel Noémi;
International workshop, Feminism in the 21st Century: Interrogating collective identities and political subjectivations Talk given at a conference Against tokenization: Black feminist politics of subjectivation 09.09.2019 University of Lausanne, Switzerland Michel Noémi;
Democracy, Critique and Europe’s "Crisis": Black feminist and Decolonial troubles, a Critical theory cluster workshop Talk given at a conference Embodied Voices and Paradoxical Inclusion: a Black Feminist Critique of Democracy 29.08.2019 Northwestern University, United States of America Michel Noémi;
2019 Race in the Marketplace (RIM) Research Forum Talk given at a conference Antiracism for sale: Exploring 40 years of evaporation in France (with Guillaume Johnson) 25.06.2019 Université Paris-Dauphine , France Michel Noémi;
Panel “Diversifying Political Science: Whose Discipline?”, Canadian Political Association Conference Talk given at a conference Against tokenization: an exploration of Black feminist strategies 03.06.2019 University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Michel Noémi;
Session “Race and Settler Colonialism” 77th Annual Midwest Political Science Association Conference Talk given at a conference Time and Power within Black Feminist Thoughts 07.04.2019 Chicago, United States of America Michel Noémi;
10th European Feminist Research Conference Individual talk Black feminist thoughts: from intersectionality to the engendering of racial capital 12.09.2018 Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany Michel Noémi;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Blackface Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 10.10.2019 Université de Lausanne, Switzerland Michel Noémi;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Blackface Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: radio, television Les noirs en Suisse sont-ils victime de discrimination? RTS Western Switzerland 2019

Abstract

Historically excluded, women, gender and sexual minorities - as well as non-white individuals - have been gradually included, through the granting of political rights, within the various spaces of Western democratic discussion. Nonetheless, these groups’ voices are persistently silenced within public debates, even when those debates affect their very bodies and wellbeing. These phenomena of silencing and oblivion even more seriously affect those who are doubly minoritized along axes of gender and race, as for instance black women or sexual minorities of colour. As a matter of fact, differentiated embodiment affects one’s audibility within public discussion. Yet the links between embodiment and voice remain overlooked or un-systematized within the political science and theory literature. Adopting a critical political theory approach, this project seeks to understand the co-constitution of body and political voice in order to renew our understanding of the reasons behind the widespread persistence of unequal voices within democracies. This project asks two interrelated questions. Firstly, how can gendered and racialized embodiment be linked to unequal political voice? Here, following recent calls for increased intersectionality within gender and race scholarship, the research intends to tackle the conjoint working of race and gender. Secondly, the project asks what happens to the meaning and implications of democratic inclusion when we take seriously the embodied dimension of political voice? Here the research will scrutinize the ideal of inclusion as the alleged remedy for equalizing voices in democracies. These questions are addressed through an unprecedented dialogue between accounts of body and voice within critical theories of democracy, gender and race and postcoloniality and with a privileged focus on Black Feminist Thought (BFT), the latter’s added value lying in the acknowledgement of conjoint and interactive working of gender and race dynamics of power. Ultimately, theorizing the politics of embodied voice offers a venue for reimagining the conditions and possibilities of democratic life under historical and structural inequalities. The project therefore contributes to timely debates amongst political theorists, gender and race scholars, and also amongst policy-makers and practitioners, concerned with the paradoxes of exclusionary forms of inclusion within democracy.
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