Susanne Lettow: Materiality and Praxis. Remarks on Material Feminism

The concept of matter has troubled feminist theorists for decades. Although it seems to be commonplace that “matter” should not be conceived of as passive resource, and according the lines of the mind/body, or culture/nature split, ideas of how to conceptualize matter and materiality differ widely. This is also the case within “material feminism”. Far from being a homogenous theoretical project, a close look shows that positions that go by this name vary. They vary with respect to the understanding of matter, and – most important from a praxeological perspective – with regard to understandings of subjectivity, agency and praxis. In my contribution I will draw a distinction between vitalist or posthumanist and praxeological perspectives within “material feminism”. I argue that while the first tends to conflate agency and activity, the latter are most promising for feminist theory understood as social criticism.