Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence

Responding to the US’s perpetual war, Butler explores how mourning could inspire solidarity.
In her most impassioned and personal book to date, Judith Butler responds in this profound appraisal of post-9/11 America to the current US policies to wage perpetual war, and calls for a deeper understanding of how mourning and violence might instead inspire solidarity and a quest for global justice.


  • “It’s clear that its author is still interested in stirring up trouble — academic, political and otherwise.”
  • “A book that shines with the splendor of engaged thought.”
  • “Here is a unique voice of courage and conceptual ambition that addresses public life from the perspective of psychic reality, encouraging us to acknowledge the solidarity and the suffering through which we emerge as subjects of freedom.”
  • “Judith Butler is quite simply one of the most probing, challenging, and influential thinkers of our time.”


  • #ParisAttacks: A reading list

    On Friday 13th November, 129 people lost their lives in a series of attacks in Paris reportedly carried out by Islamic State. They join the dead of Beirut, Suruç, Syria, Iraq and countless other war-torn regions as innocent victims of a conflict that knows no civilians.  

    The urgency with which we have to pull ourselves back from the brink is signalled not only by the brutality of the reactions, but by the fact that they are by now entirely predictable: airstrikes abroad, destructive of life but strategically pointless; attacks on muslim populations in the west, dubbed 'revenge' by a racist media.

    All is fuel on the fire. More than ever, we need to understand the situation in all its complexities.

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  • “El luto se convierte en ley” – Judith Butler desde París

    Translated by Neliza Chicangana, Sergio Rueda and Manuel Vargas. Originally posted here.

    Por Judith Butler, en París el 14 de noviembre del 2015

    Estoy en París y pasé cerca de la ubicación de la matanza sobre la rue Beaumarchais en la tarde del viernes. Cené a diez minutos de otros de los objetivos. Todos los que conozco están a salvo, pero muchas personas que no conozco están muertas o traumatizadas o de luto. Es impactante y terrible. Hoy las calles estaban pobladas por la tarde, pero vacías en la noche. La mañana se encontraba en completo silencio.

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  • Judith Butler: Precariousness and Grievability—When Is Life Grievable?

    "One way of posing the question of who “we” are in these times of war is by asking whose lives are considered valuable, whose lives are mourned, and whose lives are considered ungrievable. We might think of war as dividing populations into those who are grievable and those who are not. An ungrievable life is one that cannot be mourned because it has never lived, that is, it has never counted as a life at all. We can see the division of the globe into grievable and ungrievable lives from the perspective of those who wage war in order to defend the lives of certain communities, and to defend them against the lives of others—even if it means taking those latter lives."—Judith Butler, Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?

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Other books by Judith Butler