1st Edition

Beauvoir and Politics A Toolkit

Edited By Liesbeth Schoonheim, Karen Vintges Copyright 2024
    244 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    244 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Approaching Simone de Beauvoir’s feminism and social commentary as a resource to understand our current crises, Beauvoir and Politics: A Toolkit brings together established and emerging scholars to apply her insights to gender studies, political philosophy, decolonisation, intellectual history, age theory, and critical phenomenology. The essays in this collection start from key concepts in Beauvoir’s oeuvre and relate them to contemporary debates, asking how her notion of ambiguity speaks to lived experiences that have been highly politicized in recent years, such as pregnancy, old age, sexual violence, and the exposure of black and brown bodies to police violence; how myths inform our notions of collective, national identities, as well as notions of masculinity and femininity; and how she provides conceptual tools that help to theorize the various political strategies that are used to challenge gendered and racialized systems of oppression. These and other issues are central to this critical appraisal of Beauvoir’s legacy, demonstrating the contemporary relevance of her thought as it diagnoses the present and looks toward change for a better future. This book will be of great interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students looking to engage with the political content of Simone de Beauvoir’s work and the timely application of her ideas.

    Table of Contents

    List of figures

    List of contributors 


    Liesbeth Schoonheim, Karen Vintges, “Introduction” 


    1. Liesbeth Schoonheim, “Situating Simone de Beauvoir in Contemporary Political Theory” 


    Part I: Changing Myths 

    2. Filipa Melo Lopes, “Incel Violence and Beauvoirian Otherness” 

    3. Adam Kjellgren, “Must We Eliminate All Myths? Simone de Beauvoir and the Myth-Affirmative Feminist Tradition” 

    4. Catherine Raissiguier, “Beauvoir, Bardot, and Burqinis: Making Sense of Modern France” 


    Part II: Lived Ambiguities  

    5. Qrescent Mali Mason: “Uses of Ambiguity as Tool: A Black Feminist Phenomenologist Reflects on the Year 2020 (and Ambiguous Futures)” 

    6. Nathalie Nya, “Beauvoir, the Philosophy of Freedom, and the Rights of Black Women during French Colonial Times”  


    Part III: Situated Experiences 

    7. Sonia Kruks, “Old Age and the Question of Authenticity”  

    8. Kate Kirkpatrick, “Expectant Anxiety in The Second Sex”  


    Part IV: Fighting Back 

    9. Dianna Taylor, ‘Muscular Revolt’: Resisting Gender Oppression through Counter-Violence” 

    10. Ana Maskalan, “'I Didn't Ask for It.': Balkan Women vs. the Invisibility of Rape” 

    11. Elaine Stavro, “Why Thoughtfulness Matters: Black Lives Matter and Elsewhere” 





    Liesbeth Schoonheim is a post-doctoral researcher (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) in political theory at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. Recent publications include "Resistance: An Arendtian Reading of Solidarity and Friendship in Foucault" (2021, Foucault Studies), "Beauvoir and Writing as the Creation of the Self: Memoirs, Diaries, Biography" (2020, Sartre Studies International), and "The ‘Rightful Place in Man’s Enduring Chronicle’: Arendt’s Benjaminian Historiography" (2020, History of European Ideas).

    Karen Vintges is an associate researcher at the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research of the University of Amsterdam. Her publications include Philosophy as Passion: The Thinking of Simone de Beauvoir (1992), Feminism and the Final Foucault (co-edited with Dianna Taylor, 2004), A New Dawn for the Second Sex: Women’s Freedom Practices in World Perspective (2017), and other books in Dutch.

    “This wonderful new collection features well-known scholars writing on new topics alongside important emerging voices. These essays bring the full force of Beauvoir’s uncompromising insight into human experience and political life to bear on urgent problems facing us today: from the ambiguous lived experiences of aging and pregnancy, to the mobilization of myth, affect, and counter-violence in contemporary political discourse, to the troubling world of the ‘incel’ and the bewildering and terrifying landscape of anti-Black violence and global pandemic. The authors set out, not to reify or rescue Beauvoir as the author of a system, but to think alongside her, to show that the conceptual tools she provides, always rooted in her own experience of concrete engagement, are still, or perhaps newly, ‘good to think with.’ Beauvoir scholars will certainly want to read it; so will anyone working through current debates in political theory, and anyone concerned (as we all must be) with the current emergencies of political culture.”

    - Meryl Altman, Professor Emerita of English and Women's Studies, DePauw University, author of Beauvoir in Time


    “This lively collection offers a toolkit of Beauvoirian ‘takes’ on political, ethical, feminist conversations about burqinis on French beaches, the expectant anxiety experienced by pregnant persons, women’s experiences of aging and raced embodiment, and more. Its several essays demonstrate the scope and continuing relevance of Beauvoir’s political thought as this diverse group of feminists deepen conversations that began more than a half-century ago.”

    - Lori Jo Marso, Doris Zemurray Stone Professor of Literary and Historical Studies, Union College, author of Politics with Beauvoir: Freedom in the Encounter


    “The fine papers in this innovative and timely volume share a focus on activism and nuanced readings of Beauvoir’s life and work that I find deeply sympathetic and welcoming. It has my highest recommendation.”

    - Margaret A. Simons, Distinguished Research Professor Emerita, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, author of Beauvoir and The Second Sex: Feminism, Race, and the Origins of Existentialism and editor of the Beauvoir Series

    "This wonderful community of philosophers and political theorists pay appropriate respect to Beauvoir’s thought through not fetishizing but instead engaging its continued relevance for 21st-century social and political problems. Non-reductive, non-totalizing, it is the usefulness of her thought that comes to the fore, the conceptual tools in the kit, which makes this collection nothing short of living thought."

     —Lewis R. Gordon, author of Freedom, Justice, and Decolonization and Fear of Black Consciousness