Evaluating the Specificity of Contemporary Italian Feminism: the Theory of Sexual Difference and the Social-Symbolic Practice of Entrustment
This study focuses on the particular course taken by the theory of sexual difference (il pensiero della differenza sessuale) in Italy. It examines Italian feminism as a current which has received hitherto little international attention. The first part of the thesis situates Italian feminism in relation to the more familiar French and Anglo-American contexts in order to consider its distinctiveness. The main body of the study then considers the historical and political emergence of contemporary Italian feminism, the elaboration of a social-symbolic practice called "entrustment" ("affidamento"), beginning in 1983, and the hegemony achieved by the theory of sexual difference amongst the majority of feminist groups. Here, I develop the central argument of the thesis: it is the elaboration of entrustment which has first occasioned contemporary Italian feminism, as a whole, to engage with a theory of sexual difference adapted to the highly politicised Italian context. The last section of the thesis critically evaluates entrustment and the symbolic order of the Mother created by it, and considers the debates surrounding such a social-symbolic practice. Adriana Cavarero provides an original point of view on contemporary Italian feminism since she is both a fierce critic of entrustment and one of the leading exponents of ilpensiero. The final chapter thus utilises Cavarero's theory in order to postulate that entrustment is best considered as part of a plural but common Italian strategy of "practising" relationships between women. Sexual difference now becomes the political practice of restructuring the order of representation so that feminine sexual difference can be included.
- Theses