Interview with Willow Verkerk on her book Nietzsche and Friendship and the Gendered Mimesis Project for Below the Radar podcast from Simon Fraser University.

“I think the Gendered Mimesis project is really exciting because it’s the kind of sibling project to another European Research Council grant funded project called Homo Mimeticus. And that involves a group of people that have been looking at the philosophy of mimesis, which goes all the way back to Plato, but also has a legacy and posts-structuralism through Nietzsche. And yes, the gender mimesis project is focusing on gender and trying to understand alternative genealogy, so the subject in relation to gendered beings. But this other project that’s associated with it has people working in classics, has people working on Nietzsche, has people working in new materialisms, all through the problematic of mimesis. So I feel like now that I’ve learned more about the philosophical concept of mimesis, and how it structures not just human life, individually, but also collectively, that seems to me to be a very rich concept to take forward, as I go on. Also, the Gendered Mimesis project has like a group of researchers working with it. So I just feel very excited about it right now, because I’m learning so much from them”.

Gendered Mimesis Panel at the fifth SIP Conference: “Vita Mimetica. Simulations, Inclinations, Embodiment”.

Willow Verkerk’s talk at the “Mimetic Inclinations” conference

The paper proposes a mimetic return to the Kantian subject through the dissonant figure of the Marquis de Sade’s Juliette. It brings together Simone de Beauvoir’s reading of Sade and Adriana Cavarero’s criticism of Kant to show that Juliette’s sadism is a problem distinctive to the denial of mimetic inclination. It argues that Juliette position, as one legacy of the enlightened subject, requires us to take seriously the material implications of a human ideal who is uninterested in love.

“This article discusses the notion of the fluidity of sexual identity in light of Luce Irigaray’s account of sexual difference. I examine the historicity of sexual identity fluidity in relation to femininity as discussed in Irigaray’s second-wave feminism in order to show that the concept of sexual fluidity has to be configured by the concept of sexual difference if it wants to be productive, creative, and transformative. I will advance this claim with the help of Irigaray’s dual (reproductive and productive) notion of mimesis, which will allow me to distinguish between the ontology of sexual difference and the ontology of sexual fluidity. I will show that, from Irigaray’s perspective, the philosophical starting point to think sexual identity should not be sexual difference vs. fluidity but rather sexual dissymmetry vs. symmetry. On this account, one ought to acknowledge the historical, symbolic, and material reality of sexual difference.”

Willow Verkerk for the School of Materialist Research with “Mimetic Inclination and the Limits of the Enlightened Subject”

Greta Olson: Towards Decolonial Trans Feminist Womxn
for The Mimetic Turn Final Conference, April 20-22, 2022.

In advocating for queer, trans feminist womxn, Olson hovers between concepts of mimesis. She subscribes to mimesis both as a strategy to avoid yet another flat repetition and reification of ideologically imprinted ‘woman’ and as “an act of creative imitation” (Rita Felski). ‘Woman’ is always inscribed within heteropatriarchy, always overwritten and overdetermined and gendered by how she is framed and literally also photographed and filmed (Nina Menkes). White women and girls, in particular, represent stylized figures of exaggerated feminized vulnerability. Their imagined fragility is regularly deployed in anti-trans (and anti-nonbinary) legislation, in forms of ethnosexualization that frame migrant men as hypersexual predators, and in femonationistic efforts to legitimate neo-imperialist efforts by using the tropes of feminism (Sara Farris). This white woman is rightly despised as the Karin she is, and as the historical cause of brown women’s scars (Ruby Hamad). Obsessions with the ‘missing white woman,’ like, most recently, Gaby Petito reveal the United States’ white-centrism, and its tendency to equate blonde innocence with a sentimentalized past, and to routinely devalue the lives of Black, Indigenous, women and girls of color and the non cisgendered. ‘Woman’ cannot escape. Neither can a feminism that advocates for her and is, again and again, pronounced dead on arrival, irrelevant, non-inclusive, racist, and lacking in humor. In another turn of the phallocentric screw, the feminist woman is troped as the TERF who would keep trans and non-binary sisters down. Not in my name, this ‘woman.’ In this talk, Olson wishes to rediscover the radical potential of lesbian separatist womyn for queer, feminist, and trans efforts more generally and to question recurrent repetitions of her flattened image as the equivalent of the Old White Man of LGBTQIA politics. Yet she also argues that a trans and non-binary conceptualization of “legal sexual personhood” and gender (Olson and Borchert) constitutes a novel approach to the nexus of race, class, ability, religion, and nation that can be used to resist patriarchy while inhabiting it. She traces the emergence of decolonizing, anti-racist trans feminist womxn as a position of resistance and celebration.

Giulia Rignano for The Mimetic Turn Final Conference with “(Auto)biography Meets Biomythography: Mimetic Synchronies between Adriana Cavarero and Audre Lorde

Nidesh Lawtoo interview with Adriana Cavarero on Feminist Politics of Mimesis