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Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and…

Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence (utgåvan 2006)

av Judith Butler

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
410346,587 (3.96)3
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.… (mer)
Titel:Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence
Författare:Judith Butler
Info:Verso (2006), Paperback, 192 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence av Judith Butler


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More accessible than I was anticipating, particularly strong on dehumanisation post-9/11 America and the horrific treatment of "detainees" in Guantanamo Bay. ( )
  arewenotben | Jul 31, 2020 |
An interesting collection. I think some topics maybe haven't aged well, or at least are really more like sources for a specific time than necessarily have the staying power of other work. The essay about anti-semitism especially feels like it has been more ably taken up, including more recently by Butler herself in her essay about Bari Weiss's book, though both have an element of something missing in their articulations.

The title essay and "Violence, Mourning, Politics," were my favorites; the former also has a kind of incompleteness about it, and I think for me makes the most sense as the staging area for Butler's book about non-violence that came out this year (2020,) though it definitely leaves a lot to chew over. "Violence, Mourning, Politics" is the essay I'm most familiar with via citation, and it was good to read it in its entirety; it's clear why it's so heavily cited, and it's an essay I will definitely come back to. The other essays are fine, just didn't hit as much as those two, or felt like they have not aged as well/are not maybe as groundbreaking as they were in 2004. ( )
  aijmiller | Apr 14, 2020 |
A strange book to read in 2009, as much of it concerns the limits of the sayable in public life (Chapter 1: "Explanation and Exoneration, or What We Can Hear") and the empty status of detainees ("Indefinite Detention"); Butler includes several remarks about "the shambles into which presidential address has fallen" (131) and the bloody dynamic of white men saving brown women from brown men (see: the moral justification for the Afganistan invasion). It's easy, then, to relegate Precarious Life to the status of a historical document, a set of primary texts for some future one writing an intellectual history the Bush II era [HEY: This is me coming back to this review in 2012, post OWS, and with indefinite detention ongoing. Looks as though I spoke too soon!]. Nonetheless, some points still stick: given what AIPAC did to Freeman, the chapter on "The Charge of Anti-Semitism," as repetitive and obvious as it is, still needs to be said (and, as an awful bonus, the first figure she discusses is Lawrence Summers (!), who on 9.17.2002 conflated opposition to the policies of Israel w/ antisemitism: I can only hope he's not advising our current president on foreign as well as financial policy).

Chiefly useful to me for, first, for its *excellent* discussion of the Levinasian "face," which, pace the reviews below, I found clear enough for classroom use: I've never quite understood the impossibility of killing the Other until now [basically, the Other as Other exceeds all assimilation to Self, all representation, all understanding; if a self believes he or she has killed an Other, he or she believes the Other to be mastered, contained, delimited, which is to say, that the killed Other has not be met AS an Other:].

I've also made much use of the chapter "Violence, Mourning, Politics," about which I've written:Judith Butler has written about the exclusions that mark certain lives as “grievable” and exclude others from the community of concern. “Each of us,” she writes, “is constituted politically in part by virtue of the social vulnerability of our bodies.” Those not recognized as belonging to the community have no social vulnerability. They are not recognized as vulnerable insofar as they are not recognized as belonging to the community of those whose lives matter and thus who are understood as being fully alive. They, who “cannot be mourned because they are always already lost, or, rather, never ‘were.’” They possess only what Agamben terms “bare life,” a life included within the boundaries of a meaningful life or death only in its complete vulnerability, which is, simultaneously, not a vulnerability, since these unmournable lives cannot be recognized as being wounded, since no one feels any outrage or sense of shared suffering for what they suffer. Thus, “if violence is done against those who are unreal...from the perspective of violence, it fails [from the perspective of the dominant community:] to injure or negate those lives since those lives are already negated.” This exclusion of some—most—lives from the community of sympathy helps constitute the human, for, as Butler writes, “I am as much constituted by those I do grieve for as by those whose deaths I disavow.” Butler emphasizes that therefore obituaries should be understood as acts of community formation; as Chloë Taylor insisted in a recent reading of Butler, the obituary should also be understood as an act by which animals lives become forgotten. After all, no casualty list ever records massacres of beasts; they have no memorial.This of course isn't the whole picture, since it doesn't get at the political realm she imagines founded on a more inclusive sense of mutual vulnerability. Note also that I'm told that Bryan S. Turner has dealt with much of these matters already: it would help, then, if Butler had made reference to his work. ( )
2 rösta karl.steel | Apr 2, 2013 |
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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.

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