The Western tradition in political theory typically depicts certain assumptions about sex and gender as natural, unvarying and ‘pre-political’. This book critically examines these assumptions and how recent scholarship has undermined the illusion that bodies exist outside politics and beyond the reach of the state.
Leading political theorist Mary Hawkesworth’s cutting-edge intersectional account explores the operations of state power typically omitted from canonical accounts to demonstrate that embodiment is profoundly political. She shows how popular conceptions of human nature, public and private, citizenship, liberty, the state, and injustice relegate women, people of color, sexual minorities, and gender-variant people to inferior status despite constitutional guarantees of equality before the law. By masking the state’s role in the creation of subordinated and stigmatized subjects, Hawkesworth argues that traditional political theory has contributed to the perpetuation of pernicious forms of injustice.
The book draws insights from critical race, feminist, postcolonial, queer, and trans* theory to give a compelling, original and highly readable introduction to historical and contemporary debates on gender and political theory for students.