By Marnina Gonick
An research into the advanced strategies of ''becoming a lady.
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Extra info for Between Femininities: Ambivalence, Identity, and the Education of Girls
It suggests, as LeLy did (by pointing out the differences between us as an insurmountable barrier for the achievement of my feminist desire to understand her experience), that the difference of others may not be fully consumed, assimilated to theory and description by cracking codes of structure and through better translation, as has previously been the assumption of ethnographers and other social scientists (Marcus 1994, 566). Since the work of researchers always stands in some relation to othering, questions about the political aspects of the crisis in representation must include the ways in which representations of the experience of others have reproduced this relation.
For, rather than synthesizing apparently contradictor y elements and claiming them as parts of some coherent whole, I work to maintain them as sites of displacement, of inconsistency and complexit y within my ethnographic text, mining them for what they might offer in the way of new ground, across which systems of structural order and symbolic pattern might move, bend, and dissolve, opening up space for difference, struggle, confusion, and emergence. I acknowledge that certain challenges may be posed to the reader of such a text: chapters that go on for too long, pieced together from bits of transcripts whose fragments never add up to more than a partialit y, and are made up of stories that, like Renée Himmel’s, belong to mere fictional characters.
Warning against the dangers of a defense against the anxiet y induced by the lack of coherence and irresolvable conf lict, Flax advises that it is often better in such a situation to analyze the sources of the ambivalence and one’s inabilit y to tolerate it (Flax 1990, 11). Perhaps, as Crapanzano suggests, the uneasiness induced by maintaining contradictory stances within an academic text stems from what it announces about the inconstancy of the self and the instabilit y of vantage point. One purpose of our rhetoric is, he writes, “to mark us as constant throughout our writing, to fix our perspective.