SWIP-NL ledeninterview 5: Ashika Singh

ashikasingh

Wie of wat in de filosofie heeft je geïnspireerd?

I was first and foremost inspired by the Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. It was easy in my teenage years to fall in love with such a romantic existentialism. There began my love affair with philosophy in general. Although I studied initially in the analytic tradition (largely Anglo-American), I kept on being pulled back to the angst and passion of the continentals. I focus today on the phenomenological idea of lifeworld [Lebenswelt] (cf. Edmund Husserl) and the question of the Other. For me, it is here where the significance of experience, perception and socio-political structures and their power relations meet. This is easy to see now in the plight of the asylum seeker, seeking refuge in Europe. I question the norms of that which is most familiar to us, the home, believing strongly in the capacity of philosophical thinking to shine a critical light on what appears to us to be most foundational. I have therefore been inspired by thinkers that have been often marginalized by our Western society, in particular Frantz Fanon, Donna J. Haraway and (based in Utrecht) Rosi Braidotti. I hope that my own work realizes the importance of their ideas.

 

Speelt feministische filosofie een rol in je werk? Of: Maakt het volgens jou voor je werk uit dat je vrouw bent?

My work is centered upon the notion of the ‘home’, in questioning its presumed familiarity. Therefore, feminist philosophy plays a large part as it has been especially enlightening in revealing that these presumptions are often unreflective and even oppressive. It uncovers the power relations that shape our homely conceptions. Because women have been historically relegated to the domestic sphere, it seems only appropriate that they have the most to say and are, indeed, the best informed. Also, I am particularly interested in the relation between feminism, race and technology.

This focus also allows me to give a platform in my own work to voices often overlooked and marginalised in the history of ideas. Overall, I think it is important that we search for thinkers that challenge us, opening up new perspectives (even worlds), which hopefully encourages us to incorporate a plurality of ideas in our own thinking.

 

Waar ben je het meest trots op?

I was a part of the group that petitioned for a ‘Feminist Theory’ course in the philosophy department of my university, KU Leuven. It was difficult at first to have the directors of the philosophy programs accommodate the idea (despite over 1000 signatures) and then for them to see that the course should be implemented as soon as possible. However, I am proud that we achieved this. The course in its first year has been successful thanks to the teaching of Prof. Julia Jansen and Dr. Maren Wehrle, and shall continue. When I have felt most in doubt about my own capabilities and potential, it was feminist philosophy that reminded me that certain struggle is worth the final goal, no matter how small. It is well-known that at KU Leuven, few women continue pursuing philosophy academically past attaining their Masters. I hope now that the course can inspire future academics in a discipline that needs perspectives from different backgrounds.