Ethnicity and
The Problem of
Essentialism and
the Postmodern

A central theme of this book is that of the place of the notion of 'difference' in feminist thought. Although feminists have long pondered the question of 'difference' between men and women, the problem of 'difference' again rears its head in connection with the issue of divisions among women themselves - differences of race, class, ability and sexual orientation, among others. These types of differences and divisions have sometimes been ignored as feminists strove to describe an experience shared by all women and to identify common oppressions, and common strategies to overcome these oppressions. This search for communality, however, has led to the charge that some feminists have universalized from their own personal experience and have created an 'essential' model of woman - a model based on a dominant white, middle-class experience and aspirations. This universalizing and 'essentializing' approach has, critics argue, served to obscure the many differences such as those in racial, ethnic and class positioning that exist


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