Globalization, (Un)Dignified Difference, and La Nouvelle Droite: A Negative

Dialectical Feminist Perspective


Regina Cochrane


In the present era of neoliberal globalization, class polarization is escalating, Western consumer culture is rapidly colonizing the world, and populations everywhere are on the move. This has led to two contradictory developments: the growth of religious fundamentalist/extreme right-wing tendencies and the rise of the contemporary “anti-globalization” movement of movements. Fundamentalists and the extreme right – such as France’s Nouvelle Droite – defend a notion of difference that ends up denying the dignity of many marginalized social actors, especially women and racialized/sexual minorities. In contrast, World Social Forum (WSF), the major gathering site of the “anti-globalization” movement (AGM), seeks to promote not only the economic justice entailed in a more equitable redistribution of resources but also the cultural justice involved in recognizing the “dignity of difference” characteristic of marginalized social groups.  The central question that this paper will address is what constitutes an adequate discourse of difference? – i.e., a discourse of difference that can address both economic inequality and the “dignity of difference” of marginalized social groups without lending itself to (undignified) appropriation by the right. The paper will attempt to answer this question by drawing on feminist political theorist Nancy Fraser’s two-dimensional conception of social justice, feminist critiques of Fraser’s notion of recognizing cultural difference, and Theodor Adorno’s non-identitarian philosophy of negative dialectics.


Regina Cochrane completed a Ph.D. in political theory at York University and a SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship in political philosophy at the University of Toronto. She is presently a faculty member in the Women’s Studies Program in the University of Calgary’s interdisciplinary Faculty of Communication and Culture. Her current research focuses on debates in feminist/green political theory around issues of modernity and postmodernity as they are played out on the stage of the global justice movement. This present paper is a further development of a critique initiated in her 2007 article “Rural Poverty and Impoverished Theory: Cultural Populism, Ecofeminism, and Global Justice,” which was awarded the Krishna Bharadwaj prize by the Journal of Peasant Studies.

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