Study Guide

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak - Spivak vs. Kristeva

Spivak vs. Kristeva

Spivak has notably duked it out with French it-girl (not born in France, but that's beside the point) Julia Kristeva. Spivak cites Kristeva as a prime example of sanctioned ignorance. (See "Buzzwords" if you're wondering what on earth this means.)

In "French Feminism in an International Frame," Spivak takes Kristeva to task for writing a book called About Chinese Women that's based on almost no knowledge about, and even less contact with, actual Chinese women.

It's hard not to find Kristeva's book cringe-worthy after you've read Spivak's devastating take-down. If you want to see first hand how theory can be a blood sport, then be sure to check this essay out. It may have you running for cover if you happen to be loyal to the French theorists. But more likely, you'll root for Spivak, who sides, as always, with those whose voices are rarely heard.

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