Accepted paper:

Dialogical subjectivities for hard times: expanding political and ethical imaginaries of labour and national elite Batswana women

Authors:

Pnina Werbner (Keele University)

Paper short abstract:

Tracing the careers of Batswana elite women, the paper argues that postcolonial subjectivities are dialogical and emerging in interaction. It explores the women's sense of mission, and the making and remaking of their consciousness as subjects, citizens and members of a global community.

Paper long abstract:

Tracing the careers of three elite women in Botswana, two trade unionists and hence part of a small labour elite, and one a public servant who became, first, a politician and then an international civil servant, the paper argues that postcolonial subjectivities are to be understood as essentially dialogical; they emerge in interaction on testing occasions.The paper explores the three women's sense of mission as it evolves in performance, in the making and remaking of their consciousness as subjects, as citizens and as members of a global community. As a subject's recognition of her location within power structures expands, the paper shows, so too does her ability to act and think in terms of wider social universes of discourses. And along with wider consciousness, her sense of responsibility for others expands, just as the political imaginaries she embraces encompass wider horizons. The paper debates the problems inherent in poststructuralist definitions of subject and subjectivity, following Foucault, and suggests that a dialogical understanding of subjectivity engages with his 'negative paradigm' while nevertheless recognising that emancipatory movements lead inevitably to new heteronomous regimes of subjection.

panel W025
Elite strategies of distinction and mutuality