Against empathy, voice and authenticity
The demand for feminist research to be centered on such concepts as ‘empathy,’ ‘voice’ and ‘authenticity’ has been central for the movement away from scientistic thought. This demand is much troubled by critiques of the coherent subject that presupposes subjects who speak for themselves; subjects capable of knowing others; and subjects in charge of their desires and identiﬁcations. This essay presents a genealogy of knowing as narration and representation of the other based on comfortable and comforting, empathetic, mutual, dialogical knowing, critiquing such knowledge practices as violence, as imperial sameness once again. It asks, what is it to claim voice, authenticity and empathy as the grounds of research? Can there be a research that refuses such grounds, residing in messy ‘spaces in between’ (Robinson, 1994) where centers and margins are both situated and yet constantly changing intersections of interpretation, interruption and mutuality?