Theorising Nudist Equality: An Encounter Between Political Fantasy and Public Appearance



Abstract:  This paper approaches in/equality theorising through the lens of social nudism. Its starting point is a left conception of inequality where systemic power and the politics of oppression displace liberal concerns with immutability, offence, and the removal of impediments. But if undoing inequality involves more than clearing away obstacles, what else is at stake? Refracted through nudist subordination, response takes two forms. The first addresses the criteria through which discrimination gets converted into illegitimate inequality. The second considers the manifold character of equality's ambition. Reading equality as an open-ended fantasy, with material effects, that guides and is shaped by moments of political unsettling, the paper focuses on nudism's eruption in non-nude publics. Through these non-normative moments of public appearance, the paper addresses the relationship between equality, contact, and “lines of undoing” subordination, and asks whether the nudist/textile divide highlights the limits to group-based understandings of inequality.