The Problem of Experience
This chapter begins my investigation of stories that present the experiences of people in marginalized groups. Once considered a radical alternative to master narratives, stories that present the experiences of women, workers, and racial and sexual minorities are now suspect, even among progressive scholars. Feminists and poststructuralists no longer trust marginal experience narratives to critique ideology because they have seen how people’s “experiences” of their identities, desires, and perceptions are, in fact, constituted through ideological processes. Thus, many argue, when we try to counter ideological representations of the world with appeals to oppressed or exploited people’s “experiences,” we in fact reproduce the ideological mechanisms that structure experience, position subjects, and maintain social hierarchies (Butler and Scott 1992b; Grant 1987; Haraway 1990, 200–02; Mohanty 1982; Scott 1988, 4–7, 18–24, 56–60; 1991; Spivak 1988, 274–75).1
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