Utrecht Universiteit Faculty of Arts home education research international staff news games contact us

Scientific Context and Social Relevance

Representation and Subjectivity

Representation is an essential part of the process by which meaning is produced and exchanged between members of a culture. Most work in this programme concerns the interrelations between the - traditionally distinct - symbolic and material manifestations of culture and identity (Grossberg 1992; 1996, Hall and du Gay (eds) 1996, Buikema and Smelik (eds) 1995, Gilroy 1990). For this programme, this interdisciplinary approach leads to such questions as: What kinds of social practices, signifying systems, social scenarios and cultural narratives do people in multicultural and multi-ethnic societies have at their disposal to define their identities, their histories, their aims and desires? How do the representations circulating in theories and societies about gender and ethnicity interact with stories and theories people tell about themselves? Which relations between identity and subjectivity are implied by cultural representations of gender and ethnicity? What theoretical frameworks have been elaborated by feminist philosophies of subjectivity, difference and diversity and how do they help to illuminate the network of power relations around gender and ethnicity? What is the role of sexuality and sexual difference in the construction of gender and its eventual deconstruction?

While such questions constitute the general parameters of this programme, its specific focus is on the function of gender in the fraught relations between ascribed identities and implied subjectivities in a multicultural and multi-ethnic context. Its central concern is with the operation of gender in the formation, experience, and modification of pluriform identities, as well as on its effects for the conceptualisation and formation of a multicultural and multi-ethnic society.

©All rights reserved by Utrecht University Department of Women's Studies, October 2003