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Cushman, P. (1996). Disputed Subjects by Jane Flax (New York: Routledge, 1995). Psychoanal. Dial., 6(6):859-874.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6(6):859-874

Disputed Subjects by Jane Flax (New York: Routledge, 1995) Related Papers

Review by:
Philip Cushman, Ph.D.

In Disputed Subjects, Jane Flax's second book, she carries on her admirable attempt to address some of the most difficult—and controversial—political and moral issues of our time. Her first book, Thinking Fragments (1991), revealed her as one who explores ways of developing dialogue between psychoanalysis, feminism, and postmodernism. In Fragments, Flax can be seen as a writer unwilling to settle for easy answers and a thinker difficult to locate in—and thereby reduce to— any one intellectual camp. Most importantly, she does not compromise her political commitments: Her focus on the power relations of race and gender is as unrelenting as it is thoughtful and clearsighted. She will not forget, she will not give up.

In Disputed Subjects, Flax faces even more difficult subjects (e.g., the hidden white privilege in some feminist writing), and sometimes utters the unpopular (e.g., the disguised conservative ideology implicit in some feminist discussion of the centrality of the maternal and the relational in object relations theory). Flax continues to wrestle with where her opposition to Enlightenment rationalism and Whiggish historiography leaves us. In her second effort, more than in her first, she seems to embrace postmodernism as her central identification. She extends postmodern practice from the process of critique to the beginning development of solutions; a brave and unusual thing for a postmodernist to do.

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