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Judith Butler

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Frames of War, Precarious LifeThe Psychic Life of Power, Excitable Speech, Bodies that Matter, Gender Trouble, and with Slavoj Žižek and Ernesto Laclau, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality.

Blog

  • Judith Butler on Black Lives Matter

    The direct actions that took place across the US yesterday on Martin Luther King Day were accompanied by calls to reclaim Dr. King’s legacy, and highlight his commitment to radical action. They also served as a testament to the resilience and vision of the social movement galvanized in the wake of Mike Brown’s murder. From New York City to Oakland, Black Lives Matter has become a rallying cry for Black communities in the face of systematic racial discrimination and police brutality.

    In a recent interview with George Yancy for The New York Times, Judith Butler weighed in on the potency of the nascent movement and the power of public gatherings. 

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  • From Ferguson to Toulouse: the banalisation of repression and the licence to kill


    Just days after Cleveland police killed a 12 year-old black boy, the grand jury declined to press any of the few charges levelled against Darren Wilson, the policeman whose shooting of the adolescent Michael Brown sparked the first revolt in Ferguson this August. Wilson commented, ‘I know I did my job right’, saying that he had ‘a clear conscience’. When this verdict was announced, thousands of people took to the streets, condemning its openly racist character. The police and military repression of these demonstrations is but one more sign of the collapse of illusions in America’s ‘post-racial democracy’.

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  • Judith Butler, the Iconoclast: Elisabeth Roudinesco on Judith Butler

    Philosopher and professor in rhetoric at the University of California (Berkeley), Judith Butler, born in 1956, made her name in the English-speaking academic world a quarter of a century ago with the publication of her Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. This complex work, which has now become a classic, has nothing in common with the ‘gender theory’ recently invented by the opponents of gay marriage.

    Far from having invented gender studies, which have been taught in American universities since the early 1960s and which sought to distinguish anatomical sex from socially or psychically constructed gender identities, Judith Butler was rather more of an iconoclastic heir to them. Basing herself on the French thought of the 1970s – from Simone de Beauvoir to Jacques Lacan – in her 1990 work she gave due focus to life on the ‘border lines’, arguing that sexual difference is always fluid and that transsexuality (the conviction that one belongs to another sex), for example, could be a way of subverting the established order and refusing the biological norm. Butler had herself very early in life found herself in a situation outside the norm, lacking in borders, on account of her identity as a Jewish woman raised as a Jew but critical of the policies of the State of Israel.

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