Care theory started out as a critical epistemology that added a different, a female voice to morality. As a political ethics, care theory has moreover turned its attention to political practices and institutions that beget inequality and power asymmetries through political practices of gendering and racializing, and thereby devaluing and marginalizing, care work and carers.
As a critical voice in disability and gerontology studies, care theory has rejected the mythical norm of the autonomous subject and rendered the active participation of the cared for visible, thereby acknowledging and criticizing political power asymmetries between care givers and care receivers on the grounds of relationality.
It may therefore come as a surprise that postcolonial theorists well-versed in the language of care have repeatedly criticized the moral, political and epistemic underpinnings of care, especially its relational ontology. My lecture, presented at the reseach group Critical Ethics of Care in the Netherlands, will trace the most common postcolonial objections to care and weigh their validity, arguing that care theory will more fully realize its form and promise as a political ethics where it manages to include critical insights on the tensions within care from postcolonial theory.
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