Phenomenological variation and intercultural transformation: Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology and Abu-Lughod’s ethnography in dialogue

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History and Philosophy

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Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai Philosophia


"This paper develops phenomenological resources for understanding the nature of intercultural understanding, drawing on the work of Merleau-Ponty in dialogue with feminist anthropologist Abu-Lughod. Part One criticizes Western framings of non-Western violence against women that render the experience of non-Western Others inaccessible. Part Two discusses how certain strains in Western feminism reinforce some of these problematic framings. Part Three offers a phenomenological account of our experience of other persons, and Part Four argues that intercultural understanding takes the form of a “variation” between one’s own and the other’s experience. Part Five explores the implications of this phenomenology of cross-cultural understanding for interpreting dynamic cultural transformations, and the politics of violence against women, in an interconnected and unequal world. Keywords: Maurice Merleau-Ponty; Lila Abu-Lughod; critical phenomenology; feminist anthropology; multiculturalism "

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