Fall 2013 Newsletter

Women in Political Theory 

 

Women in Political Theory  by Jane Duran, was published by Ashgate in June 2013. This work is an attempt to describe the intellectual overviews of five women thinkers who might be deemed to be political theorists but who, at least to some extent, have been marginalized or even excluded from that canon. In the spirit of Eight Women Philosophers, (Illinois, 2005), the point is to try to spell out not only what the women have accomplished but the intellectual atmosphere of the times in which they wrote.  

The five women thinkers examined are Sarah Grimke, Anna Julia Cooper, Jane Addams, Rosa Luxemburg and Hannah Arendt. Although it is conceded that the latter two are usually grouped among political theorists, even Luxemburg and Arendt have probably not received as much attention as they deserve. Still more to the point, Grimke, Cooper and Addams are only now minimally receiving the scrutiny that their work merits, since the political tone of much of their work has either been overlooked or simply mislabeled. Grimke, for example, was a tireless worker for the rights of both women and Africans held in slavery, and her Letters is an excellent testimony to the depth and commitment of her work. While many are familiar with Cooper's A Voice from the South, many are not at all familiar with her work on slavery in Haiti, one of the first such efforts, and one that preceded the perhaps better known work of C.L.R. James. We often think of Addams's Democracy and Social Ethics, but a profoundly important work by her, Peace and Bread in Time of War, is often overlooked. Insofar as Luxemburg and Arendt are concerned, we can hazard the guess that Luxemburg's straightforward Marxist analyses, such as The Socialist Crisis in France, may be too far to the left for some, and Arendt's important The Life of the Mind simply does not receive enough citation. 

In our endeavor to recover the work of women philosophers, we often overlook the fact that philosophical work that is not, for example, primarily concerned with metaphysics and epistemology might warrant special examination. This work on five women political theorists is the first such singly-authored work to try to place individual women philosophers with a political orientation in the canon. It is an outgrowth of both the author's teaching and other writing, and helps to tie together the theme of response to the ancients, and to such known political thinkers as Filmer, Machiavelli and the thinkers of the twentieth century. 

 

-Jane Duran, SSWP Board Member 


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