Re-reading de Beauvoir after race: Woman-as-slave revisited | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 14, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 1368-2679
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9142


This article reads Simone de Beauvoir's (2000, [1948]) and (1989, [1949]) in light of recent decolonial critiques of (post) modernity. It situates de Beauvoir's employment of the woman-as-slave analogy within the heated controversies of her political moment. Marxists, Existentialists, Jewish intellectuals and Pan-Africanists, among others, engaged around issues of anti-fascist, anti-colonialist and anti-capitalist struggle. De Beauvoir's avant-gardist project to insert early feminist articulation into these controversies laid the foundation for international second-wave feminism. Radical as it was in terms of her formulation of (white) gender difference, however, her work was based on a rhetorical distancing of white women from slavery which separates black women from the conceptualization of gender altogether, and thus has erased the history and claims of black women from the critical purview of feminism.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): critical theory; de Beauvoir; decolonial; feminism; gender; slavery; whiteness
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