Cite as: Penelope Deutscher, Complementarity and Futurity: Looking Back at this Sex which is ’Not One’, lecture, ICI Berlin, 11 June 2013, video recording, mp4, 25:19 <>
11 Jun 2013

Complementarity and Futurity

Looking Back at this Sex which is 'Not One'
By Penelope Deutscher
What is the future of sexual difference — long considered to constitute a perfect whole, then deemed a limited, even a masculine conception? Insofar as ‘two sexes’ ever stood for oppositionality and complementarity, the alternatives appeared to be sexual sameness, identity, or equality. If these options once seemed to saturate the field of conceptual possibilities, new challenges to the imagination of sex have more recently emerged in the languages of différance, queer, trans, assemblage and plasticity. Among these, this lecture reflected on a curiously persistent interest in sexual difference in the emergent field of new materialisms. In fact, these become contexts in which the qualities of a maximal plasticity are attributed to sexual difference. Even Luce Irigaray finds herself reconfigured, and to surprising ends — now seen as offering the resources for going beyond sexual difference. The lecture asked to what extent this form of looking back can be seen as a transformative strategy available for a broader deployment.

Penelope Deutscher is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Northwestern University. Her publications include The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir: Ambiguity, Conversion, Resistance (2008), How to Read Derrida (2005), A Politics of Impossible Difference: The Later Work of Luce Irigaray (2002) and Yielding Gender: Feminism, Deconstruction and the History of Philosophy (1997). She co-edited (with Françoise Collin) Repenser le  politique: l’apport du féminisme (2004) and (with Kelly Oliver) Enigmas: Essays on Sarah Kofman, (1999). She is currently working on two projects: From Analogy, on the historical grounding of women’s rights claims in analogical proximities with  animals, slaves  and sovereigns; and Foucault’s Children: Thanatopolitics and Reproductive Futurism – elements of which currently appear in South Atlantic Quarterly, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Theory, Culture and Society, and Telos.


ICI Berlin
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Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:25:19
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Rights: © ICI Berlin