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Layton, L. (1998). Sacrificial Logics. Feminist Theory and the Critique of Identity: Allison Weir. New York/London: Routledge, 1996. Psychoanal Q., 67(2):341-342.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Sacrificial Logics. Feminist Theory and the Critique of Identity: Allison Weir. New York/London: Routledge, 1996

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(2):341-342

Sacrificial Logics. Feminist Theory and the Critique of Identity: Allison Weir. New York/London: Routledge, 1996

Lynne Layton

In most accounts of contemporary feminist psychoanalytic theory, the object relations feminism of Chodorow and Benjamin is counterposed to postmodern accounts of gender identity, such as that of Judith Butler. Weir challenges this tradition by focusing on what she perceives to be an underlying similarity: the tendency in all these theories to collapse identity into an oppressive structure of domination, a structure that represses difference. In essays on each of these theorists, as well as on Jacqueline Rose and Luce Irigaray, Weir argues that none of them can derive sociality from their limited concept of the self; at best one gets a paradoxical oscillation between an omnipotent self and a relational self. Weir discredits paradox and urges resolution. She wants to save autonomy and separateness from feminist attack: “This requires a distinction between an understanding of internalization as a form of social domination, and an understanding of internalization as a process (based on identification with others) of learning the norms, principles, and ideals of a society, and of coming to accept them as one's own.” Weir's argument is that internalization is a necessary basis of a

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capacity for reflection and critique (her definition of autonomy), not a prelude to domination. She draws on a particular reading of Kristeva that grounds a social self in the child's recognition of and identification with her mother's investment in the world, where mother is “unified in division.” Kristeva offers a vision of self-identity that develops via acceptance (rather than denial) of nonidentity or difference. Weir's project—to ground a nonrepressive identity—is extremely important; unfortunately, she misreads Benjamin and Chodorow, who both proffer relational theories of internalization that do not lead to domination and who have always distinguished between nonoppressive and oppressive forms of separation and autonomy.

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Article Citation

Layton, L. (1998). Sacrificial Logics. Feminist Theory and the Critique of Identity. Psychoanal. Q., 67(2):341-342

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