Vulnerability, Longing and Stigma in Hélène Cixous The Day I Wasnt There
This project considers the autobiographical writings of Hélène Cixous, which tell of the complex relationships between identity, family, nation, exile and colonialism. In this project, I am interested in teasing out the relationship between vulnerability, longing and stigma. Using Hélène Cixous three-legged dog, a recurring trope in her book, The Day I Wasnt There, as a starting point, I consider what Cixous philosophy might have to offer to the articulation of a politics of vulnerability. Of particular interest is Cixous articulation of vulnerability as practice; that is, vulnerability as an active and ongoing engagement with porosity, permeability and danger. For Cixous, vulnerability is not only dangerous porosity, but infused with longing a deep desire for that which no longer is and perhaps, could never be. In addition to this, she associates vulnerability with stigma, evoked in the text through her search for the Mongolian life. In the process, the text might be imagined as an open wound a breaking of the flesh that enables us to reach inside and excavate our selves. While the three-legged dog might most evocatively symbolize stigma, I argue that it is, ultimately, our longing for its phantom limb that enables us to engage with the practice of vulnerability, its ghostly presence symbolic of the necessary entredeux that makes an ethical politics possible.
01 Jan 2010
31 Dec 2012
Strategic Research Theme
Creative Arts, Culture and Heritage