In this chapter, Liesbeth Schoonheim provides an overview of the debates in contemporary political theory that form the background of the essays in this collection. She distinguishes three topics with regard to which Beauvoir is relevant: political mobilization, in particular the rehabilitation by theorists of radical democracy of affect and of myth; political strategy and the critique of counter-violence, as well as institutional reform; and, finally, feminist debates on the status of experience. On each of these topics, Schoonheim argues, Beauvoir has valuable insights to offer.
The four parts of this volume address questions such as: How can we deconstruct the emotionally charged, mythic images of femininity and masculinity that pervade right-wing movements while acknowledging the role that alternative myths and altered affects can play in political mobilization against these movements? How do concepts that were framed in the binary terms of gender allow for a more intersectional understanding of anti-racist, feminist resistance? How can we elucidate the lived experiences of those marginalized without reifying these groups and denying their heterogeneity? How can we support the emancipatory struggle to end oppression and inequality while taking seriously how these struggles might require actions—violent or otherwise morally troublesome—that potentially reproduce oppression and inequality? These questions are raised against the background of various debates in political theory, which I discuss in this chapter. I focus on three topics, which do not strictly correspond to different parts of the volume but recur throughout the collection. While some of the approaches to these topics are indebted to Beauvoir’s ideas, they mostly developed independently of her thought but would—so I argue—benefit from mining her oeuvre.