Hope in a Vice: Carole Pateman, Judith Butler, and Suspicious Hope

Hypatia 30 (3):597-612 (2015)
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Eve Sedgwick critiques paranoid methodologies for denying a plurality of affective approaches. Instead, she emphasizes affects such as hope, but her description of hope's openness does not address how hope can avoid discourses that appear to offer amelioration while deceptively masking subjugation. In this context, I will argue that suspicion in feminist political philosophy, as shown in the earlier work of Carole Pateman and Judith Butler, provides a cautious approach toward hope's openness without precluding hope altogether. This analysis will reconsider the domination and empowerment debates in relation to affect, pointing toward compatibilities between the two perspectives. First, I will expand Sedgwick's analysis of hope to explain its potential as a feminist political affect. Second, I will examine the techniques of suspicion employed by Pateman and Butler and how they risk denying possibilities for hope. This will lead to a discussion of how Amy Allen's theory of power indicates that suspicion is compatible with hope. Finally, I will explain how the suspicious approaches of Pateman and Butler illuminate hope as an inherently risky, fragile project. This will show that suspicion does not necessarily take up the totalizing position of paranoia, but rather can productively ensure that hope is not led astray.

Author's Profile

Amy Marvin
Lafayette College


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