Dr Clare Hemmings: Considering Emma Goldman: Sexual Politics, Fantasy and Feminist Theory

Date: 19 March 2014, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House

This paper considers the importance of the anarchist thinker and activist Emma Goldman (1869-1940) for contemporary feminist theory and politics. Initially concerned with how Goldman’s views on power and change help us reconsider our own history and present, I have become more concerned with how to negotiate aspects of her thought that are less easily reclaimed.

Exploring her own and others’ desire for Goldman to resolve current difficulties within and beyond feminism and sexual politics, I highlight the problems this desire presents for both our understanding of the past, and our ability adequately to engage the present. Focusing instead on the importance of fantasy in our accounting for the relationship between past and present, I explore our desires to consign judgement and (sexual) essence to another era.