How can we explain the “occlusion of embodied power” and “lack of attention to race, gender, and sexuality” in the discipline of political science,...

How can we explain the “occlusion of embodied power” and “lack of attention to race, gender, and sexuality” in the discipline of political science, a field “that claims power as a central analytical concept” (17)? In her new book, Embodied Power: Demystifying Disembodied Politics (Routledge, 2016), Mary Hawkesworth (Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University) brings intersectionality, feminist theory, and post- and de-colonial theory to bear on the mainstream study of politics. She argues for the need to move away from customary concepts of “power” and “the political” that mask state practices that construct various forms of hierarchy. These concepts and the methodologies and epistemologies they give rise to, she argues, lead the discipline unable to grapple with issues such as the carceral state or the violence of nation-building. At the same they cover over the ways that “racialization and gendering have been constitutive of knowledge production within the discipline” (17). In the interview, Hawkesworth discusses these conceptual practices of power as well as how intersectional attention to embodied power can reclaim the study of politics.


John McMahon is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Beloit College. He is a former Fellow at the Center for Global Ethics and Politics at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY, which sponsors the podcast.

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