Feminist Interpretations of Alexis de Tocqueville

Edited by Jill Locke, Eileen Hunt Botting

Paperback - £33.95

Publication date:

15 January 2009

Length of book:

384 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271034034

This book moves beyond traditional readings of Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59) and his relevance to contemporary democracy by emphasizing the relationship of his life and work to modern feminist thought. Within the resurgence of political interest in Tocqueville during the past two decades, especially in the United States, there has been significant scholarly attention to the place of gender, race, and colonialism in his work. This is the first edited volume to gather together a range of this creative scholarship. It reveals a tidal shift in the reception history of Tocqueville as a result of his serious engagement by feminist, gender, postcolonial, and critical race theorists.

The volume highlights the expressly normative nature of Tocqueville’s project, thus providing an overdue counterweight to the conventional understanding of Tocquevillean America as an actual place in time and history. By reading Tocqueville alongside the writings of early women’s rights activists, ethnologists, critical race theorists, contemporary feminists, neoconservatives, and his French contemporaries, among others, this book produces a variety of Tocquevilles that unsettles the hegemonic view of his work.

Seen as a philosophical source and a political authority for modern democracies since the publication of the twin volumes of Democracy in America (1835/1840), Tocqueville emerges from this collection as a vital interlocutor for democratic theorists confronting the power relations generated by intersections of gender, sexual, racial, class, ethnic, national, and colonial identities.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are Jocelyn Boryczka, Richard Boyd, Christine Carey, Barbara Cruikshank, Laura Janara, Matthew Holbreich, Kathleen S. Sullivan, Alvin B. Tillery Jr., Lisa Pace Vetter, Dana Villa, Cheryl B. Welch, and Delba Winthrop.