A response to Elizabeth Gould, "The Nomadic turn: epistemology, experience, and women college band directors"

Citation metadata

Date: Fall 2005
From: Philosophy of Music Education Review(Vol. 13, Issue 2)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,246 words
Lexile Measure: 1750L

Document controls

Main content

Article Preview :

Climate and its impact on women in instrumental music education is a tremendously important subject, and I thank Liz Gould for her thoughtful analysis. Rather than offering a critique of her work, I will respond as one might answer in a call and response. Gould has sung a call that articulates a definition of feminism and invites us to explore climate in the professions, specifically in instrumental music education; I will answer in affirmation, confirmation, and extension. The nomadic metaphor, which is central to her paper, has been appropriated by a number of postmodern theoreticians, including, among others, Baudrillard, Grisoni, Deleuze and Guattari, and of course, Braidotti. (1) I have decided not to talk about this metaphor, however, principally because the complexities of any analysis of Western constructions of nomadism--constructions that are rife with exoticism, fascination, revulsion, and fear--are multiplied at this moment, as my country wages war against Iraq, a land of nomadic and seminomadic peoples, after having recently engaged in military action in Afghanistan, which is similarly home to nomads. An incisive discussion of post-modern use of nomadic metaphors appears in Caren Kaplan's book Questions of Travel, which I recommend to anyone interested in the subject. (2)

My response has two goals: first, to forward another, not necessarily competing, postmodern understanding of feminism and power; and second, keeping this understanding in mind, to expand Gould's project of examining professional climate. According to my working postmodern definition, feminism is a constellation of dynamic political positions, which address and attempt to change the unequal power relations and material conditions that are produced and supported by a normative regulatory ideal called sex. In speaking of a constellation of political positions, I acknowledge the existence of a multiplicity of modern and post-modern feminisms, and by calling these positions dynamic I acknowledge their fluidity. In asserting that sex is a regulatory ideal, I rely on the work of feminist theorist Judith Butler, who posits that sex and sexual difference are discursively constructed; distinguishing herself from feminists who draw a distinction between gender, which is assumed to be socially constructed, and sex, which is theorized as a pre-social given or surface, Butler not only questions such a distinction by arguing that both sex and gender are culturally produced, but also theorizes about how materializations of bodies are accomplished. Drawing on the work of philosopher Michel Foucault, she maintains that sex is a regulatory norm, "part of a regulatory practice that produces the bodies it governs," (3) and she claims that this materialization is accomplished through a reiterative process called performativity. A performative, according to Butler, is a "discursive practice that enacts or produces that which it names." (4) Butler claims that "the regulatory norms of 'sex' work in a performative fashion to constitute the materiality of bodies and, more specifically, to materialize the body's sex, to materialize sexual difference in the service of the consolidation of the heterosexual imperative." (5) She provides an example of how this reiterative process works: when a particular child...

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A145792756