2019 — Critical Essay

Appropriating the Alien:
A Critique of Xenofeminism

Annie Goh

Mute Magazine

According to the XFM, the universal needs a ‘profound reworking’ (0x0F) in order to ‘sift new universals from the ashes of the false’ (0x10). These new universals are notionally delineated from Eurocentric universalism (pace Williams and Srnicek), and are assured to be ‘intersectional’. ‘The universal must be grasped as generic, which is to say, intersectional […] built from the bottom up – or, better, laterally, opening new lines of transit across an uneven landscape’ (0x0F). Yet it is hard to imagine how this ‘bottom-up’ universalism radically departs from Eurocentricism when there is little effort made to divest the overburdened term ‘universalism’ of its whiteness, historically and epistemologically (more on this below). The concept of the ‘generic’, a likely nod to the notion of the ‘generic set’ (derived from mathematical set theory, and popularised in philosophy primarily through the work of Alain Badiou), is conceptually underdeveloped, but the suggestive purchase of such formalism on the power dynamics inherent in intersectionality seems questionable or, at best, in need of better articulation.17