Sex, Gender, Politics
Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not
make it under self- selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing
already, given and transmitted from the past.
—Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 1852
Text, Time, and Space
Texts are produced in particular historical moments and with specifi c hori-
zons of possibility. Th ey are part of a repertoire of conversations, questions,
assumptions, political environments, available data, and theoretical resources.
Th ese discursive conglomerates shift over time—sometimes by slow incre-
ments, and sometimes with dramatic jolts. When new formations become the
familiar terrain, it becomes diffi cult to recall the previous landscape with its
distinctive assemblage of what could be thought and what seemed signifi cant.
Durable texts nd new meanings in new historical contexts and evolving pre-
occupations. But as texts are read in new circumstances, the issues that formed
them are oft en forgotten, as the edges of the old landscape are eroded by time.
When we go to the library to nd out about something, we encounter a
huge heap of literature all at once. Th is creates a tendency to treat a large body
of texts as if they all exist on the same temporal plane.1 But the various layers
of accretion were produced at specifi c moments and under specifi c conditions.
It is important to understand texts in their times. Th is allows us to think about
the temporal aspects of their relationships to one another, and to distinguish
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