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Postmillennial feminist theory: encounters with humanism, materialism, critique, nature, biology and Darwin

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date10/2010
JournalJournal for Cultural Research
Number of pages11
Original languageEnglish


This article reflects on the emergence of a strikingly affirmative form of feminist theorising, despite widespread discussion of the early twenty‐first century being a post‐feminist era. The author begins by sketching the general features of this new orientation, contrasting it with second‐wave feminist theorising and identifying a cluster of feminist theorists who, despite their different concerns and distinctive work, can be seen as affiliated in this reorientation in feminist theory. The second section offers a discussion of three key terms in post‐millennial feminist theory: post‐humanism, new materialism and the ontological turn. This section explores their deployment and significance in identifying new directions in feminist theory. In the third section, the author introduces a specific case study of this post‐millennial reorientation of feminist theory: Elizabeth Grosz's advocacy of Darwin's ideas is proposed as exemplifying this new trend in feminist theory. There is a brief review of Grosz's writings on Darwin and three key points in Grosz's encounter with Darwinian theory are highlighted. These important features of Grosz's approach to Darwin's ideas are then reviewed: the rejection of critique, the revisiting of the nature–culture divide and the embrace of biology. The discussion of each of these foci includes consideration of the rationale for and strengths of Grosz's positions. However, this commentary also highlights some worrying lacunae in her theories.