Beyond Sovereignty and Particularism: for a Truly Universalist Feminism


  • Katja Čičigoj



feminism, universalism, particularism, egalitarianism, intersectionality, sovereignty, autonomy


Intersectional understandings of identities as traversed by diverse forms of oppression have brought to light also the ways commitments to contesting these forms of oppression might come into conflict. A salient form of conflicting intersectionality is the apparent conflict between feminist and anti-racist or anti-colonial commitments today. By offering a materialist rereading of Simone de Beauvoir’s understanding of oppression and emancipation against her postcolonial critics, I argue that instead of a particularistic one, a universalist and egalitarian account of conflicting intersectionality is required today – an account which is however fully aware of the historical nature of the universal itself. Such an account may allow us to keep condemning all forms of oppression, with Beauvoir’s words, as an “absolute evil”.

Author Biography

Katja Čičigoj

Justus-Liebig University, Giessen

Katja Čičigoj is a PhD candidate at the Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), Justus-Liebig University, Giessen and a former visiting researcher at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University, London. Katja has published her work in academic journals and has presented it at international conferences. She has co-organized several reading groups in philosophy, feminist philosophy, and contemporary critical theory. She was formerly a member of the editorial board of the academic journal On_Culture and the journal Maska, and a regular contributor to Tribuna, Radio Student, Ekran, Kino!, Radio Koper, Pogledi, and other publications.


Assiter, Alison. Enlightened Women. Modernist Feminism in a Postmodern Age. London: Routledge, 1996.

Assiter, Alison. Revisiting Universalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. DOI:

Balibar, Etienne. “Civic Universalism and its Internal Exclusions: The Issues of Anthropological Difference.” boundary 2 39, 1 (January 2012): 207–29. doi:10.1215/01903659-1506301 DOI:

Beauvoir, Simone de. Force of Circumstance. Translated by Robert Howard. London: Penguing, 1968.

Beauvoir, Simone de. Tout compte fait. Paris: Gallimard, 1972.

Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 2011 [1949].

Beauvoir, Simone de. Feminist Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Maribeth Timmerman. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2015. DOI:

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge, 1990.

Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa. ed. This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. New York: Kitchen Table, Women of Color Press, 1983.

Crenshaw, Kimberlé. “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum (1989): 139–67.

Davis, Angela Y. Women, Race, and Class. New York: Vintage, 1983.

Delphy, Christine. “Rethinking Sex and Gender.” Women’s Studies International Forum 16, 1 (1993): 1–9. DOI:

Delphy, Christine, and Sylvie Chaperon ed. Cinquantenaire du Deuxième sexe. Paris: Éditions Syllepse, 2002.

Delphy, Christine. Separate and Dominate. Feminism and Racism after the War on Terror. London: Verso, 2015.

Farris, Sara R. In the Name of Women’s Rights: The Rise of Femonationalism. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2017. DOI:

Guy-Sheftall, Beverly, ed. Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought. New York: The New Press, 1995.

Grosholz, Emily ed. The Legacy of Simone de Beauvoir. Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Hill Collins, Patricia. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Le Doeuff, Michèle. “Operative Philosophy: Simone de Beauvoir and Existentialism.” In Critical Essays on Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Elaine Marks, 144–53. Boston Massachusetts: G. K. Hall&Co., 1987.

Leonard, Diana, and Lisa Adkins ed. Sex in Question: French Materialist Feminism. London: Taylor and Francis Ltd., 1996.

Markowitz, Sally. “Occidental Dreams: Orientalism and History in The Second Sex.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 32, 2 (January 2009): 271–94. doi:10.1086/591235 DOI:

Mackenzy, Catriona. “A certain lack of symmetry: Beauvoir on autonomous agency and women’s embodiment.” In Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex: New Interdisciplinary Essays, edited by Ruth Evans, 122–58. Manchester, New York: Manchester University Press, 1998.

Mackenzy, Catriona, and Natalie Stoljar ed. Relational Autonomy. Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy, Agency and the Social Self. Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” boundary 2: A Journal of Post-Modern Literature and Culture 12, 3 (1984): 333–59. doi: 10.2307/302821 DOI:

Nilliasca, Terri. “Some Women’s Work: Domestic Work, Class, Race, Heteropatriarchy, and the Limits of Legal Reform.” Michigan Journal of Race and Law 16 (2011): 377.

Okely, Judith. Simone de Beauvoir: a Re-reading. London: Virago, 1986.

Simons, Margaret A. ed. The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir. Critical Essays. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

Smith, Barbara, ed. Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000.

Spelman, Elisabeth V. Inessential Woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought. London: The Women’s Press, 1988.

West, Carolyn. “Black Women and Intimate Partner Violence. New Directions for Research.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 19, 12 (December 2004): 1487–93. doi: 10.1177/0886260504269700 DOI:

Wittig, Monique. The Straight Mind and Other Essays. Boston Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1992.




How to Cite

Čičigoj, K. (2017). Beyond Sovereignty and Particularism: for a Truly Universalist Feminism. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (14), 91–104.