Faculty Colloquium VIII

Start date

Wednesday, 22 Apr 2020, 17:00

End date

Wednesday, 22 Apr 2020, 18:30

Room
CB-3

Sandrine Bergès will present the paper 'Domesticity and Civic Virtue: At Home with the Jacobin Women' during this Faculty Colloquium. 

Abstract: 
In 1792, Robespierre complained that the Gironde was led by a triumvirate of women: Madame Robert, Madame Roland and Madame Condorcet. The first two on that list, Louise Keralio-Robert and Marie-Jeanne (Manon) Phlipon Roland were in fact very ambivalent about the place of women in politics, and protested in writing that good republican women's place was in the home, not the assembly. Yet, both participated actively in the development of Revolutionary politics. This paper looks at the philosophical underpinnings of this apparent contradiction, and argues that the contradiction cannot, in fact, be resolved, and remains very much a contradiction. The women of the French Revolution did not have a coherent story to tell about how they could both stay out of politics and influence the course of the revolution through their womanly virtue. Yet, they did have recourse to an argument that gave them a position of power and virtue in the home, and placed the home at the center of republican virtue, so that they were in a position to claim for themselves a political role that was in principle equal to, if different from the roles men played. Both Roland and Robert attempted to carve a place for themselves in revolutionary politics using this model as starting point. Both failed as they realized that their influence, to be truly effective, had to reach out further than the home. Their experience in the Revolution was, in effect, an argument against a certain kind of difference feminism. At the very least, it showed the limitations of trying to achieve political equality through difference.