Re-thinking representations, re-writing nursing texts: possibilities through feminist and Foucauldian thought

Authors


Annette Huntington, Massey University at Wellington, PO Box 756, Wellington, New Zealand. E-mail: A.D.Huntington@massey.ac.nz

Abstract

Re-thinking representations, re-writing nursing texts: possibilities through feminist and Foucauldian thought

Focus. Critical approaches are increasingly being used to inform theory and research within the discipline of nursing. In this paper we discuss the work of feminist writers, particularly those located within the postmodern, and Michel Foucault. Their work, although having significant points of difference, can be viewed as complementary and our engagement with these ideas has led us to re-think nursing knowledge.

Rationale. Using ideas from Foucault and postmodern feminism foregrounds critical questions such as whose knowledge is visible in nursing literature, whose is suppressed, and the power relationships reflected in representations of knowledge. Our exploration of representations of knowledge has led us to review fundamental nursing texts that we consider to be important political and ideological artefacts in the enculturation of student nurses. The dominant position of medical knowledge in the texts reviewed continues to position this ‘voice’ as primary in nursing literature.

Discussion. Drawing on our current research on endometriosis to illustrate the potential inherent in rewriting such texts, we argue for a repositioning of knowledge related to the illness experience. Privileging the voices of people who are the focus of our clinical care reflects the reality of nurses’ work; the embodied experience of the person is made visible rather than marginalized in the illness discourse.

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