Ethereal Identities and Ethereal Subjectivity: An American Pragmatist Appreciation of María Lugones’ Theory of Oppression and Resistance

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Spring 6-2011


María Lugones’ concept of oppression and resistance, while being consonant with the American Pragmatist tradition, also furthers this tradition in important ways. Specifically, Lugones’ theory adds to our understanding of what it means to be oppressed as a necessarily transactional being by clarifying how oppression is woven (or “spatially mapped”) into our lived existence. In addition, her work offers an enhanced and more nuanced, interpersonal account of how, even in significantly oppressive situations, resistance is possible in and through the creation of “active subjectivity,” or what John Dewey might call “ethereal identities.” With active subjectivity, individuals mapped into otherwise oppressive locations are able to create “relational identities that did not precede the encounter,” doing so in the “in-between spaces” of our mapped existence, allowing for liberating resistance and coalitions that would not otherwise be possible.

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