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Open Access A body that matters? - Jane E. Harrisons epistemologische ontdekking van de ‘Grote Moeder’ en de rol van de Chôra

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No other researcher of religion revolutionized the way we look at Greek antiquity like the Hellenist, archaeologist and feminist Jane Ellen Harrison (1850-1928), who taught at Newnham womens College, Cambridge (UK). Harrison’s avant la lettre performative and material turn challenged the text-based approach to Greek culture. The article reconstructs parallels between Harrison’s Becoming Goddess and the early work of Luce Irigaray on the ‘feminine’ and the maternal body as the excluded figure – the Chôra – of the patriarchal symbolic order. It starts historically with the parallel ‘events’ of the archaeological ‘discovery’ of the ‘matriarchal’ Minoan culture of the ‘Great Mother’ on Crete, and Harrison’s epistemological reconstructions. Methodologically it combines close readings of her texts, inspired by feminist theories especially Judith Butler and Luce Irigaray with a history of knowledge approach. The article focuses on a reconstruction of Butler’s and Irigaray’s discussion of the Platonic concept of Chôra and relates it to Harrison’s attempts to formulate a non-phallocentric notion of a matrilineal culture. Her utopian idea of maternal symbolizations is based on an ‘energetic’ notion of the maternal and an ethic in the ‘name-of-the-mother’. Is there a ‘third’ way to considering the material-maternal-matter, that does not imply a rejection of discourse analysis, nor an essentialist understanding of ‘femininity’?
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Associate Professor, Center for Gender and Diversity, Maastricht

Publication date: September 1, 2013

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  • Het Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies is het forum voor de wetenschappelijke problematisering van sekse in relatie tot andere vormen van discriminatie en uitsluiting zoals etniciteit, seksualiteit, klasse of leeftijd. Er worden artikelen in gepubliceerd over gendervraagstukken vanuit alle relevante disciplines die een wetenschappelijke bijdrage leveren aan debatten over gender en intersectionaliteit in Nederland en Vlaanderen. Het tijdschrift is een interdisciplinair medium op het kruispunt van maatschappij-, cultuur-, geestes-, gezondheids- en natuurwetenschappen. Het verschijnt vier keer per jaar en biedt wetenschappelijke artikelen en daarnaast ook interviews, boekrecensies, discussiedossiers en opiniërende artikelen in het Nederlands en Engels. Artikelen worden dubbelblind beoordeeld door externe deskundigen.

    The Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies (Journal of Gender Studies) is a Dutch language forum for the scientific problematisation of gender in relation to ethnicity, sexuality, class, and age. The journal aims to contribute to debates about gender and diversity in the Netherlands and Flanders. The journal is an interdisciplinary medium operating at the intersection of society, culture, the humanities, health and science. The editorial staff is open to articles about gender issues from different disciplines, and also accepts English articles. As well as publishing articles, the journal includes essays, columns (short topical and polemical articles), interviews, reviews, summaries of dissertations and conference reports. Articles are subjected to a double blind peer review process.
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