The Philosopher’s Body: Simone de Beauvoir and the Sex of Violence. Presentation with Historian Sandrine Sanos
Date: 3:30pm PDT March 22 Location: Miller Hall
The Philosopher’s Body: Simone de Beauvoir and the Sex of Violence
Presentation with Sandrine Sanos , Associate Professor of Modern European History, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
Thursday, March 22, 2018
We mostly know Beauvoir today as a feminist icon. But the story of her life is the story of her complicated relationship to the world, to the ways she felt she could act in the world, and to the importance of reflecting on and theorizing one’s relation to others and to the world. Her relationship to politics was complicated and, in fact, had been shaped in the crucible of twentieth-century’s most devastating conflicts, from World War Two, to the Franco-Algerian War, and the Vietnam War. Much of her life involved a gradual awakening to politics and political activism that led her to become the publicly involved feminist intellectual of the 1970s. In the 1950s and 1960s, she wrote about the violence of war, torture, and persecution. In her writings, bodies are not abstract and violence against bodies was, for her, always at the same time a violence against one’s self and identity.Beauvoir’s denunciation of state violence takes the shape of a focus on empathy with those who bodies are being tortured and violated. This philosophically-inflected politics of “embodied empathy” provides the foundations for her political and ethical call against oppression, persecution, and violence.
Sandrine Sanos is a cultural and intellectual historian of 20th c. France. Her research focuses on the ways gender and sexuality shape and are shaped by politics and on questions of aesthetics and violence. Her first book, The Aesthetics of Hate: Far-Right Intellectuals, Antisemitism and Gender in 1930s France (Stanford, 2012) analyzes the obsession with virility that structured far-right racialized visions of Frenchness. In 2016, she published a historical biography, Simone de Beauvoir: Creating a Feminist Existence in the World (Oxford, 2016), and is now working on a new project, The Horror of History: Violence, Displacement, and Gender in Cold War France, which examines how writers, intellectuals, and artists theorized the sex of violence in a postwar moment consumed by wars of decolonization.
Co-sponsored by Gender Studies and French