Judith Pamela Butler (born 1956) is an American philosopher and gender theorist whose work has influenced political philosophy, ethics, and the fields of third-wave feminist, queer, and literary theory. Since 1993, she has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is now Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory. She is also the Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School.
Butler is best known for her books Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990) and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (1993), in which she challenges conventional notions of gender and develops her theory of gender performativity. This theory has had a major influence on feminist and queer scholarship. Her works are often studied in film studies courses emphasizing gender studies and performativity in discourse.
Butler has supported lesbian and gay rights movements and has spoken out on many contemporary political issues. In particular, she is a vocal critic of Zionism, Israeli politics, and its effect on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, emphasizing that Israel does not and should not be taken to represent all Jews or Jewish opinion.
Butler in March 2012
Judith Pamela Butler
February 24, 1956
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Alma mater||Yale University|
|Institutions||University of California, Berkeley|
|Doctoral advisor||Maurice Natanson|
Judith Butler was born on February 24, 1956, in Cleveland, Ohio, to a family of Hungarian-Jewish and Russian-Jewish descent. Most of her maternal grandmother's family perished in the Holocaust. As a child and teenager, she attended both Hebrew school and special classes on Jewish ethics, where she received her "first training in philosophy". Butler stated in a 2010 interview with Haaretz that she began the ethics classes at the age of 14 and that they were created as a form of punishment by her Hebrew school's Rabbi because she was "too talkative in class". Butler also stated that she was "thrilled" by the idea of these tutorials, and when asked what she wanted to study in these special sessions, she responded with three questions preoccupying her at the time: "Why was Spinoza excommunicated from the synagogue? Could German Idealism be held accountable for Nazism? And how was one to understand existential theology, including the work of Martin Buber?"
Butler attended Bennington College before transferring to Yale University, where she studied philosophy, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1978 and her Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1984. She spent one academic year at Heidelberg University as a Fulbright Scholar. She taught at Wesleyan University, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University before joining University of California, Berkeley, in 1993. In 2002 she held the Spinoza Chair of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. In addition, she joined the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University as Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Visiting Professor of the Humanities in the spring semesters of 2012, 2013 and 2014 with the option of remaining as full-time faculty.
Butler serves on the editorial board or advisory board of several academic journals, including JAC: A Journal of Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.
In the essay "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution", Judith Butler proposes that gender is a performance. She draws on the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the feminism of Simone de Beauvoir, noting that both thinkers ground their theories in "lived experience" and view the sexual body as a historical idea or situation. Butler distinguishes "between sex, as biological facticity, and gender, as the cultural interpretation or signification of that facticity."
Butler argues that gender is best perceived as a performance, which suggests that it has a social audience. For Butler, the "script" of gender performance is effortlessly transmitted generation to generation in the form of socially established "meanings": She states, "gender is not a radical choice ... [nor is it] imposed or inscribed upon the individual". Given the social nature of human beings, most actions are witnessed, reproduced, and internalized and thus take on a performative or theatric quality. According to Butler's theory, gender is essentially a performative repetition of acts associated with the male or female. Currently, the actions appropriate for men and women have been transmitted to produce a social atmosphere that both maintains and legitimizes a seemingly natural gender binary. Consistently with her acceptance of the body as a historical idea, she suggests that our concept of gender is seen as natural or innate because the body "becomes its gender through a series of acts which are renewed, revised, and consolidated through time".
Butler argues that the performance of gender itself creates gender. Additionally, she compares the performativity of gender to the performance of the theater. She brings many similarities, including the idea of each individual functioning as an actor of their gender. However, she also brings to light a critical difference between gender performance in reality and theater performances. She explains how the theater is much less threatening and does not produce the same fear that gender performances often encounter because of the fact that there is a clear distinction from reality within the theater.
Butler uses Sigmund Freud's notion of how a person's identity is modeled in terms of the normal. She revises Freud's notion of this concept's applicability to lesbianism, where Freud says that lesbians are modeling their behavior on men, the perceived normal or ideal. She instead says that all gender works in this way of performativity and a representing of an internalized notion of gender norms.
Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity was first published in 1990, selling over 100,000 copies internationally, in multiple languages. The book's title alludes to the 1974 John Waters film Female Trouble, which stars the drag queen Divine. Gender Trouble discusses the works of Freud, de Beauvoir, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray, Monique Wittig, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault. The book has even inspired an intellectual fanzine, Judy!
The crux of Butler's argument in Gender Trouble is that the coherence of the categories of sex, gender, and sexuality—the natural-seeming coherence, for example, of masculine gender and heterosexual desire in male bodies—is culturally constructed through the repetition of stylized acts in time. Although the repeated, stylized bodily acts establish the appearance of an essential, ontological "core" gender, Butler understands gender, along with sex and sexuality, to be performative. Butler explicitly challenges biological accounts of binary sex. The performance of gender is not voluntary, in Butler's opinion, and she believes the gendered, sexed, desiring subject must be constructed within what she calls, borrowing from Foucault's Discipline and Punish, "regulative discourses." These, also called "frameworks of intelligibility" or "disciplinary regimes," determine in advance what possibilities of sex, gender, and sexuality are socially permitted to appear as coherent or "natural". Regulative discourse includes disciplinary techniques that coerce the stylized actions and thereby maintain the appearance of "core" gender, sex and sexuality.
The supposed obviousness of sex as a natural fact attests to how deeply its production in discourse is concealed. The sexed body, once established as a natural fact, is the alibi for constructions of gender and sexuality, which then purport to be the just-as-natural expressions or consequences of sex. In Butler's account, it is on the basis of the construction of natural binary sex that binary gender and heterosexuality are likewise constructed as natural. Butler claims that without a critique of sex as produced by discourse, the sex/gender distinction as a feminist strategy for contesting constructions of binary asymmetric gender and compulsory heterosexuality will be ineffective.
Butler offers a critique of the terms gender and sex as they have been used by feminists. Butler argues that feminism made a mistake in trying to make "women" a discrete, ahistorical group with common characteristics. Butler writes that this approach reinforces the binary view of gender relations. Butler believes that feminists should not try to define "women" and she also believes that feminists should "focus on providing an account of how power functions and shapes our understandings of womanhood not only in the society at large but also within the feminist movement." Finally, Butler aims to break the supposed links between sex and gender so that gender and desire can be "flexible, free floating and not caused by other stable factors". The idea of identity as free and flexible and gender as a performance, not an essence, is one of the foundations of queer theory.
Judith Butler explores the production of identities such as homosexual and heterosexual and the limiting nature of identity categories. An identity category for her is a result of certain exclusions and concealments, and thus a site of regulation. Butler acknowledges, however, that categorized identities are important for political action at the present time. Butler believes that identity forms through repetition or imitation and is not original. Imitation fosters the illusion of continuity. Heterosexual identity, which is set up as an ideal, requires constant, compulsive repetition if it is to be safeguarded.
Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" seeks to clear up readings and supposed misreadings of performativity that view the enactment of sex/gender as a daily choice. Butler emphasizes the role of repetition in performativity, making use of Derrida's theory of iterability, which is a form of citationality:
Performativity cannot be understood outside of a process of iterability, a regularized and constrained repetition of norms. And this repetition is not performed by a subject; this repetition is what enables a subject and constitutes the temporal condition for the subject. This iterability implies that 'performance' is not a singular 'act' or event, but a ritualized production, a ritual reiterated under and through constraint, under and through the force of prohibition and taboo, with the threat of ostracism and even death controlling and compelling the shape of the production, but not, I will insist, determining it fully in advance.
This concept is linked to Butler's discussion of performativity. Iterability, in its endless undeterminedness as to-be-determinedness, is thus precisely that aspect of performativity that makes the production of the "natural" sexed, gendered, heterosexual subject possible, while also and at the same time opening that subject up to the possibility of its incoherence and contestation.
In Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative, Butler surveys the problems of hate speech and censorship. She argues that censorship is difficult to evaluate, and that in some cases it may be useful or even necessary, while in others it may be worse than tolerance.
Butler argues that hate speech exists retrospectively, only after being declared such by state authorities. In this way, the state reserves for itself the power to define hate speech and, conversely, the limits of acceptable discourse. In this connection, Butler criticizes feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon's argument against pornography for its unquestioning acceptance of the state's power to censor.
Deploying Foucault's argument from the first volume of The History of Sexuality, Butler claims that any attempt at censorship, legal or otherwise, necessarily propagates the very language it seeks to forbid. As Foucault argues, for example, the strict sexual mores of 19th-century Western Europe did nothing but amplify the discourse of sexuality they sought to control. Extending this argument using Derrida and Lacan, Butler claims that censorship is primitive to language, and that the linguistic I is a mere effect of an originary censorship. In this way, Butler questions the possibility of any genuinely oppositional discourse; "If speech depends upon censorship, then the principle that one might seek to oppose is at once the formative principle of oppositional speech".
Undoing Gender collects Butler's reflections on gender, sex, sexuality, psychoanalysis and the medical treatment of intersex people for a more general readership than many of her other books. Butler revisits and refines her notion of performativity and focuses on the question of undoing "restrictively normative conceptions of sexual and gendered life".
Butler discusses how gender is performed without one being conscious of it, but says that it does not mean this performativity is "automatic or mechanical". She argues that we have desires that do not originate from our personhood, but rather, from social norms. The writer also debates our notions of "human" and "less-than-human" and how these culturally imposed ideas can keep one from having a "viable life" as the biggest concerns are usually about whether a person will be accepted if his or her desires differ from normality. She states that one may feel the need of being recognized in order to live, but that at the same time, the conditions to be recognized make life "unlivable". The writer proposes an interrogation of such conditions so that people who resist them may have more possibilities of living.
In her discussion of intersex, Butler addresses the case of David Reimer, a person whose sex was medically "reassigned" from male to female after a botched circumcision at eight months of age. Reimer was "made" female by doctors, but later in life identified as "really" male, married and became a stepfather to his wife's three children, and went on to tell his story in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, which he wrote with John Colapinto. Reimer committed suicide in 2004.
In Giving an Account of Oneself, Butler develops an ethics based on the opacity of the subject to itself; in other words, the limits of self-knowledge. Primarily borrowing from Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Laplanche, Adriana Cavarero and Emmanuel Levinas, Butler develops a theory of the formation of the subject. She theorizes the subject in relation to the social – a community of others and their norms – which is beyond the control of the subject it forms, as precisely the very condition of that subject's formation, the resources by which the subject becomes recognizably human, a grammatical "I", in the first place.
Butler accepts the claim that if the subject is opaque to itself the limitations of its free ethical responsibility and obligations are due to the limits of narrative, presuppositions of language and projection.
You may think that I am in fact telling a story about the prehistory of the subject, one that I have been arguing cannot be told. There are two responses to this objection. (1) That there is no final or adequate narrative reconstruction of the prehistory of the speaking "I" does not mean we cannot narrate it; it only means that at the moment when we narrate we become speculative philosophers or fiction writers. (2) This prehistory has never stopped happening and, as such, is not a prehistory in any chronological sense. It is not done with, over, relegated to a past, which then becomes part of a causal or narrative reconstruction of the self. On the contrary, that prehistory interrupts the story I have to give of myself, makes every account of myself partial and failed, and constitutes, in a way, my failure to be fully accountable for my actions, my final "irresponsibility," one for which I may be forgiven only because I could not do otherwise. This not being able to do otherwise is our common predicament (page 78).
Instead she argues for an ethics based precisely on the limits of self-knowledge as the limits of responsibility itself. Any concept of responsibility which demands the full transparency of the self to itself, an entirely accountable self, necessarily does violence to the opacity which marks the constitution of the self it addresses. The scene of address by which responsibility is enabled is always already a relation between subjects who are variably opaque to themselves and to each other. The ethics that Butler envisions is therefore one in which the responsible self knows the limits of its knowing, recognizes the limits of its capacity to give an account of itself to others, and respects those limits as symptomatically human. To take seriously one's opacity to oneself in ethical deliberation means then to critically interrogate the social world in which one comes to be human in the first place and which remains precisely that which one cannot know about oneself. In this way, Butler locates social and political critique at the core of ethical practice.
Butler's work has been influential in feminist and queer theory, cultural studies, and continental philosophy. Yet her contribution to a range of other disciplines—such as psychoanalysis, literary, film, and performance studies as well as visual arts—has also been significant. Her theory of gender performativity as well as her conception of "critically queer" have not only transformed understandings of gender and queer identity in the academic world, but have shaped and mobilized various kinds of political activism, particularly queer activism, across the globe. Butler's work has also entered into contemporary debates on the teaching of gender, gay parenting, and the depathologization of transgender people. Before election to the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI wrote several pages challenging Butler's arguments on gender. In several countries, Butler became the symbol of the destruction of traditional gender roles for reactionary movements. This was particularly the case in France during the anti-gay marriage protests. Bruno Perreau has shown that Butler was literally depicted as an "antichrist", both because of her gender and her Jewish identity, the fear of minority politics and critical studies being expressed through fantasies of a corrupted body.
Some academics and political activists maintain that Butler's radical departure from the sex/gender dichotomy and her non-essentialist conception of gender—along with her insistence that power helps form the subject—revolutionized feminist and queer praxis, thought, and studies. Darin Barney of McGill University writes that:
Butler's work on gender, sex, sexuality, queerness, feminism, bodies, political speech and ethics has changed the way scholars all over the world think, talk and write about identity, subjectivity, power and politics. It has also changed the lives of countless people whose bodies, genders, sexualities and desires have made them subject to violence, exclusion and oppression.
Other scholars have been more critical. In 1998, Denis Dutton's journal Philosophy and Literature awarded Butler first prize in its fourth annual "Bad Writing Competition", which set out to "celebrate bad writing from the most stylistically lamentable passages found in scholarly books and articles." Her unwitting entry, which ran in a 1997 issue of the scholarly journal Diacritics, ran thus:
The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.
Some critics have accused Butler of elitism due to her difficult prose style, while others claim that she reduces gender to "discourse" or promotes a form of gender voluntarism. Susan Bordo, for example, has argued that Butler reduces gender to language and has contended that the body is a major part of gender, in opposition to Butler's conception of gender as performance. A particularly vocal critic has been feminist Martha Nussbaum, who has argued that Butler misreads J. L. Austin's idea of performative utterance, makes erroneous legal claims, forecloses an essential site of resistance by repudiating pre-cultural agency, and provides no normative ethical theory to direct the subversive performances that Butler endorses. Finally, Nancy Fraser's critique of Butler was part of a famous exchange between the two theorists. Fraser has suggested that Butler's focus on performativity distances her from "everyday ways of talking and thinking about ourselves. ... Why should we use such a self-distancing idiom?"
Butler responded to criticisms of her prose in the preface to her 1999 book, Gender Trouble.
More recently, several critics—most prominently, Viviane Namaste—have criticised Judith Butler's Undoing Gender for under-emphasizing the intersectional aspects of gender-based violence. For example, Timothy Laurie notes that Butler's use of phrases like "gender politics" and "gender violence" in relation to assaults on transgender individuals in the United States can "[scour] a landscape filled with class and labour relations, racialised urban stratification, and complex interactions between sexual identity, sexual practices and sex work", and produce instead "a clean surface on which struggles over 'the human' are imagined to play out". Nevertheless, both Namaste and Laurie acknowledge the enduring importance of Butler's critical contributions to the study of gender identities.
German feminist Alice Schwarzer speaks of Butler's "radical intellectual games" that would not change how society classifies and treats a woman; thus, by eliminating female and male identity Butler would have abolished the discourse about sexism in the queer community. Schwarzer also accuses Butler of remaining silent about the oppression of women and homosexuals in the Islamic world, while readily exercising her right to same-sex-marriage in the United States; instead, Butler would sweepingly defend Islam, including Islamism, from critics.
Much of Butler's early political activism centered around queer and feminist issues, and she served, for a period of time, as the chair of the board of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Over the years, she has been particularly active in the gay and lesbian rights, feminist, and anti-war movements. She has also written and spoken out on issues ranging from affirmative action and gay marriage to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay. More recently, she has been active in the Occupy movement and has publicly expressed support for a version of the 2005 BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against Israel.
On September 7, 2006, Butler participated in a faculty-organized teach-in against the 2006 Lebanon War at the University of California, Berkeley. Another widely publicized moment occurred in June 2010, when Butler refused the Civil Courage Award (Zivilcouragepreis) of the Christopher Street Day (CSD) Parade in Berlin, Germany at the award ceremony. She cited racist comments on the part of organizers and a general failure of CSD organizations to distance themselves from racism in general and from anti-Muslim excuses for war more specifically. Criticizing the event's commercialism, she went on to name several groups that she commended as stronger opponents of "homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, and militarism".
In October 2011, Butler attended Occupy Wall Street and, in reference to calls for clarification of the protesters' demands, she said:
People have asked, so what are the demands? What are the demands all of these people are making? Either they say there are no demands and that leaves your critics confused, or they say that the demands for social equality and economic justice are impossible demands. And the impossible demands, they say, are just not practical. If hope is an impossible demand, then we demand the impossible – that the right to shelter, food and employment are impossible demands, then we demand the impossible. If it is impossible to demand that those who profit from the recession redistribute their wealth and cease their greed, then yes, we demand the impossible.
When Butler received the 2012 Adorno Prize, the prize committee came under attack from Israel's Ambassador to Germany Yakov Hadas-Handelsman; the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center office in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff; and the German Central Council of Jews. They were upset at Butler's selection because of her remarks about Israel and specifically her "calls for a boycott against Israel". Butler responded saying that "she did not take attacks from German Jewish leaders personally". Rather, she wrote, the attacks are "directed against everyone who is critical against Israel and its current policies".
In a letter to the Mondoweiss website, Butler asserted that she developed strong ethical views on the basis of Jewish philosophical thought and that it is "blatantly untrue, absurd, and painful for anyone to argue that those who formulate a criticism of the State of Israel is anti-Semitic or, if Jewish, self-hating".
Butler was criticized for statements she had made about Hamas and Hezbollah. She was accused of describing them as "social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left". She was accused of defending "Hezbollah and Hamas as progressive organizations" and supporting their tactics.
Butler responded to these criticisms by stating that her remarks on Hamas and Hezbollah were taken completely out of context and, in so doing, her established views on non-violence were contradicted and misrepresented.
Butler describes the origin of her remarks on Hamas and Hezbollah in the following way:
I was asked by a member of an academic audience a few years ago whether I thought Hamas and Hezbollah belonged to "the global left" and I replied with two points. My first point was merely descriptive: those political organizations define themselves as anti-imperialist, and anti-imperialism is one characteristic of the global left, so on that basis one could describe them as part of the global left. My second point was then critical: as with any group on the left, one has to decide whether one is for that group or against that group, and one needs to critically evaluate their stand.
What is implied by this statement [Black Lives Matter], a statement that should be obviously true, but apparently is not? If black lives do not matter, then they are not really regarded as lives, since a life is supposed to matter. So what we see is that some lives matter more than others, that some lives matter so much that they need to be protected at all costs, and that other lives matter less, or not at all. And when that becomes the situation, then the lives that do not matter so much, or do not matter at all, can be killed or lost, can be exposed to conditions of destitution, and there is no concern, or even worse, that is regarded as the way it is supposed to be...When people engage in concerted actions across racial lines to build communities based on equality, to defend the rights of those who are disproportionately imperiled to have a chance to live without the fear of dying quite suddenly at the hands of the police. There are many ways to do this, in the street, the office, the home, and in the media. Only through such an ever-growing cross-racial struggle against racism can we begin to achieve a sense of all the lives that really do matter.
The dialogue draws heavily on her 2004 book Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence.
On May 11, 2018, Butler led a group of scholars in writing a letter to New York University following the sexual harassment suit filed by a former NYU graduate student against his advisor Avital Ronell. The signatories acknowledged not having had access to the confidential findings of the investigation that followed the Title IX complaint against Ronell. Nonetheless, they accused the complainant of waging a "malicious campaign" against Ronell. The signatories also wrote that the presumed "malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare" for a highly regarded scholar. "If she were to be terminated or relieved of her duties, the injustice would be widely recognized and opposed." Butler, the chief signatory, invoked her title as President Elect of the Modern Language Association. James J. Marino, a professor at Cleveland State University and a member of the MLA, started a petition to demand Butler's resignation or removal from her post. He argued that "Protesting against one instance of punishment is only a means to the larger end of preserving senior faculty's privilege of impunity. ... [Butler] was standing up for an old, corrupt, and long-standing way of doing business. The time for doing business that way is over. We should never look back." Some three months later, Butler apologized to the MLA for the letter. "I acknowledged that I should not have allowed the MLA affiliation to go forward with my name," she wrote to the Chronicle of Higher Education. "I expressed regret to the MLA officers and staff, and my colleagues accepted my apology. I extend that same apology to MLA members."
All of Butler's books have been translated into numerous languages; Gender Trouble, alone, has been translated into twenty-seven different languages. In addition, she has co-authored and edited over a dozen volumes—the most recent of which is Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (2013), coauthored with Athena Athanasiou. Over the years she has also published many influential essays, interviews, and public presentations. Butler is considered by many as "one of the most influential voices in contemporary political theory," and as the most widely read and influential gender theorist in the world.
The following is a partial list of Butler's publications.
Similarly, MacKinnon's appeal to the state to construe pornogra- phy as performative speech and, hence, as the injurious conduct ofrep- resentation, does not settle the theoretical question of the relation between representation and conduct, but collapses the distinction in order to enhance the power of state intervention over graphic sexual representation.
A censorship of sex? There was installed [since the 17th century] rather an apparatus for producing an ever greater quantity of discourse about sex, capable of functioning and taking effect in its very economy.
Student protests in Croatia 2009 began at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb. On Monday, 20 April 2009, the independent students' initiative for the right to free education started an occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, Croatia. The occupation lasted for 35 days, until 24 May, when the students voted to suspend the occupation. The students were protesting the Croatian government's plans to reduce public funding for higher education, which had been provided free until recently.The occupation in Zagreb spread next day to the University of Zadar (where the entire university was blocked) and then to other cities in the country, including Split, Pula, Rijeka and Osijek. During those 35 days, around 20 faculties and universities in eight Croatian cities were occupied at some point.
The students who organized the occupation demanded the right to free education for all and the elimination of all tuition fees, at all levels of higher education: undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate. During the occupation, everyone was free to enter and leave the faculty buildings, but regular classes were not held. Instead, students organized an alternative educational program, which consisted of lectures, public discussions, workshops, movie screenings and other events. Everyone was free to attend these happenings, whether they were students or not. Only the regular classes were blocked – the administration, the library, the bookshop and other facilities within the faculty building were allowed to function as usual.The central organ of student decision making at the occupied faculty called plenum was set up. All decisions were made in a direct democratic manner, including whether the student occupation of the faculty should be continued or ended. The plenum was an assembly of all interested students and other citizens and everyone had the right to speak and vote. All decisions were made by the majority of all present participants.
The initial occupation in Zagreb ended soon after the university administration announced that sanctions would be imposed if the action were not ended.On 23 November the students again occupied the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. After nearly two weeks, the plenum, voted to end the occupation on 4 December.They have received letters of support from individuals and organizations, both from Croatia and from abroad. Among those who have expressed support for their cause were Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler and Slavoj Žižek.The students of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb wrote a manual called The Occupation Cookbook in which they described the functioning of their faculty during the occupation.Antigone
In Greek mythology, Antigone ( ann-TIG-ə-nee; Ancient Greek: Ἀντιγόνη) is the daughter of Oedipus and his mother Jocasta. The meaning of the name is, as in the case of the masculine equivalent Antigonus, "worthy of one's parents" or "in place of one's parents".Contingency, Hegemony, Universality
Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues On The Left is a collaborative book by the political theorists Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek published in 2000.Episteme
"Episteme" is a philosophical term derived from the Ancient Greek word ἐπιστήμη epistēmē, which can refer to knowledge, science or understanding, and which comes from the verb ἐπίστασθαι, meaning "to know, to understand, or to be acquainted with".Plato contrasts episteme with "doxa": common belief or opinion. Episteme is also distinguished from "techne": a craft or applied practice. The word "epistemology" is derived from episteme.European Graduate School
The European Graduate School (EGS) is a private graduate school that operates in two locations: Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and Valletta, Malta.
It was founded in 1994 in Saas-Fee, Switzerland by the Swiss scientist, artist, and therapist, Paolo Knill. It was co-founded by the Swiss Canton of Valais, which is represented in its board.The school initially offered programs in Expressive Arts Therapy, as part of a broader initiative to develop a network of training institutes in Expressive Arts Therapy. A division of Philosophy, Art and Critical Thought was subsequently established by Wolfgang Schirmacher.EGS is licensed as a university in Malta and is recognized in the Swiss canton where it operates, but is not recognized by the Swiss University Conference, the main regulatory body for universities in Switzerland. In the US, the State of Texas includes the European Graduate School on its published list of institutions that issue "fraudulent or substandard degrees" and notes that it is illegal to use an EGS degree to obtain employment within the state.Teaching is mostly remote, with required attendance for short periods at the school; ad hoc meetings in various cities also take place.Notable faculty members have included Giorgio Agamben, Chantal Akerman, Pierre Alféri Judith Butler, Achille Mbembe, Avital Ronell, and Sandy Stone.Notable alumni and attendees have included John Maus, Gael García Bernal, and Bruce Barber.Gender Trouble
Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990; second edition 1999) is a book by the philosopher Judith Butler, in which the author argues that gender is a kind of improvised performance. The work is influential in feminism, women's studies, and lesbian and gay studies, and has also enjoyed widespread popularity outside of traditional academic circles. Butler's ideas about gender came to be seen as foundational to queer theory and the advancing of dissident sexual practices during the 1990s.Gender bender
A gender bender (LGBT slang: one who genderfucks) is a person who disrupts, or "bends", expected gender roles. Gender bending is sometimes a form of social activism undertaken to destroy rigid gender roles and defy sex-role stereotypes, notably in cases where the gender-nonconforming person finds these roles oppressive. It can be a reaction to, and protest of, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny or misandry. Some gender benders identify with the sex assigned them at birth, but challenge the societal norms that assign expectations of particular, gendered behavior to that sex. This rebellion can involve androgynous dress, adornment, behavior, and atypical gender roles. Gender benders may self-identify as trans or genderqueer. However, many trans people do not consider themselves "gender benders".Gender bending may be political, stemming from the early identity politics movements of the 1960s and 1970s, a guiding principle of which is the idea that the personal is political. In his 1974 article, Genderfuck and Its Delights, Christopher Lonc explained his motivation for performing genderfuck: "I want to criticize and poke fun at the roles of women and of men too. I want to try [to] show how not-normal I can be. I want to ridicule and destroy the whole cosmology of restrictive sex roles and sexual identification."The term genderfuck has long been part of the gay vernacular, and started to appear in written documents in the 1970s. Sheidlower cites the definition of the term gender fuck in L Humphreys' 1972 work Out of the Closets: Sociology of Homosexual Liberation as "a form of extended guerilla theatre". Also quoted is the August 1972 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, in reference to the glam rock style: "The new "macho" transvestism, called vulgarly "gender-fuck", a curious satire of female impersonation – dresses, pumps, full make-up and beards – Is represented by, among others, three men in WAC uniforms and big moustaches".Gender essentialism
Gender essentialism is a concept used to examine the attribution of fixed, intrinsic, innate qualities to women and men. In this theory, there are certain universal, innate, biologically- or psychologically-based features of gender (different from sex) that are at the root of observed differences in the behavior of men and women. In Western civilization, it is suggested in writings going back to ancient Greece. With the advent of Christianity, the earlier Greek model was expressed in theological discussions as the doctrine that there are two distinct sexes, male and female created by God, and that individuals are immutably one or the other. This view remained essentially unchanged until the middle of the 19th century, until Darwin's publications on evolution. This changed the locus of the origin of the essential differences, in Sandra Bem's words, "from God's grand creation [to] its scientific equivalent: evolution's grand creation," but the belief in an immutable origin had not changed.Alternatives to gender essentialism were proposed in the mid-20th century. During second-wave feminism, Simone de Beauvoir and other feminists in the 1960s and 70s theorized that gender differences were socially constructed. In other words, people gradually conform to gender differences through their experience of the social world. More recently, Judith Butler theorized that people construct gender by performing it.Gender expression
Gender expression is a person's behavior, mannerisms, interests, and appearance that are associated with gender in a particular cultural context, specifically with the categories of femininity or masculinity. This also includes gender roles. These categories rely on stereotypes about gender.Gender studies
Gender studies is a field for interdisciplinary study devoted to gender identity and gendered representation as central categories of analysis. This field includes women's studies (concerning women, feminism, gender, and politics), men's studies and queer studies. Sometimes, gender studies is offered together with study of sexuality.
These disciplines study gender and sexuality in the fields of literature, language, geography, history, political science, sociology, anthropology, cinema, media studies, human development, law, public health and medicine. It also analyzes how race, ethnicity, location, class, nationality, and disability intersect with the categories of gender and sexuality.Regarding gender, Simone de Beauvoir said: "One is not born a woman, one becomes one." This view proposes that in gender studies, the term "gender" should be used to refer to the social and cultural constructions of masculinities and femininities and not to the state of being male or female in its entirety. However, this view is not held by all gender theorists. Beauvoir's is a view that many sociologists support (see Sociology of gender), though there are many other contributors to the field of gender studies with different backgrounds and opposing views, such as psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and feminists such as Judith Butler.
Gender is pertinent to many disciplines, such as literary theory, drama studies, film theory, performance theory, contemporary art history, anthropology, sociology, sociolinguistics and psychology. However, these disciplines sometimes differ in their approaches to how and why gender is studied. For instance in anthropology, sociology and psychology, gender is often studied as a practice, whereas in cultural studies representations of gender are more often examined. In politics, gender can be viewed as a foundational discourse that political actors employ in order to position themselves on a variety of issues. Gender studies is also a discipline in itself, incorporating methods and approaches from a wide range of disciplines.Each field came to regard "gender" as a practice, sometimes referred to as something that is performative. Feminist theory of psychoanalysis, articulated mainly by Julia Kristeva (the "semiotic" and "abjection") and Bracha L. Ettinger (the feminine-prematernal-maternal matrixial Eros of borderlinking and com-passion, "matrixial trans-subjectivity" and the "primal mother-phantasies"), and informed both by Freud, Lacan and the object relations theory, is very influential in gender studies.
According to Sam Killermann, Gender can also be broken into three categories, gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex. These three categories are another way of breaking down gender into the different social, biological, and cultural constructions. These constructions focus on how femininity and masculinity are fluid entities and how their meaning is able to fluctuate depending on the various constraints surrounding them.Grey Room
Grey Room is a peer-reviewed academic journal published quarterly, in print and online, by the MIT Press. Founded in 2000, it includes work in the fields of architecture, art, media, and politics. To date it has featured contributions by such prominent historians and theorists as Yve-Alain Bois, Judith Butler, Georges Canguilhem, Hubert Damisch, Friedrich Kittler, Chantal Mouffe, Antonio Negri, Paolo Virno, Paul Virilio, and Samuel Weber. The journal is pioneer in disseminating Grey system theory research in USA.
Beginning with issue #51, the composition of the editorial board changed. Founding editors Branden Joseph, Reinhold Martin, and Felicity Scott, and editors Karen Beckman and Tom McDonough, resigned from the editorial board after issue #50 and assumed roles on the advisory board of the journal. Zeynep Çelik Alexander, Lucia Allais, Eric de Bruyn, Gabriella Coleman (since resigned from the editorial board), Noam M. Elcott, John Harwood, Byron Hamann, and Matthew C. Hunter have served as editors since.Performativity
Performativity is a complex concept that can be thought of as a language which functions as a form of social action and has the effect of change. The concept has multiple applications in diverse fields such as anthropology, economics, gender studies (social construction of gender), law, linguistics, performance studies, and philosophy.
The concept is first described by philosopher of language John L. Austin when he referred to a specific capacity: the capacity of speech and communication to act or to consummate an action. Austin differentiated this from constative language, which he defined as descriptive language that can be "evaluated as true or false". Common examples of performative language are making promises, betting, performing a wedding ceremony, an umpire calling a strike, or a judge pronouncing a verdict.Influenced by Austin, philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler argued that gender is socially constructed through commonplace speech acts and nonverbal communication that are performative, in that they serve to define and maintain identities. This view of performativity reverses the idea that a person's identity is the source of their secondary actions (speech, gestures). Instead, it views actions, behaviors, and gestures as both the result of an individual's identity as well as a source that contributes to the formation of one's identity which is continuously being redefined through speech acts and symbolic communication. This view was also influenced by philosophers such as Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser.Philosophy of sex
Philosophy of sex is an aspect of applied philosophy involved with the study of sex and love. It includes both ethics of phenomena such as prostitution, rape, sexual harassment, sexual identity, the age of consent, homosexuality, and conceptual analysis of concepts such as "what is sex?" It also includes questions of sexuality and sexual identity and the ontological status of gender. Leading contemporary philosophers of sex include Alan Soble and Judith Butler.
Contemporary philosophy of sex is sometimes informed by Western feminism. Issues raised by feminists regarding gender differences, sexual politics, and the nature of sexual identity are important questions in the philosophy of sex.
What is the function of sex?
What is romantic love?
Is there an essential characteristic that makes an act sexual?
Are some sexual acts good and others bad? According to what criteria? Alternatively, can consensual sexual acts be immoral, or are they outside the realm of ethics?
What is the relationship between sex and biological reproduction? Can one exist without the other?
Are sexual identities rooted in some fundamental ontological difference (such as biology)?
Is sexuality a function of gender or biological sex?Post-anarchism
Post-anarchism or postanarchism is an anarchist philosophy that employs post-structuralist and postmodernist approaches (the term post-structuralist anarchism is used as well, so as not to suggest having moved beyond anarchism). Post-anarchism is not a single coherent theory, but rather refers to the combined works of any number of post-modernists and post-structuralists such as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard; postmodern feminists such as Judith Butler; and alongside those of classical anarchist and libertarian philosophers such as Zhuang Zhou, Emma Goldman, Max Stirner, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus, the terminology can vary widely in both approach and outcome.Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is associated with the works of a series of mid-20th-century French continental philosophers and critical theorists who came to international prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. The term is defined by its relationship to the system before it—structuralism (an intellectual movement developed in Europe from the early to mid-20th century). Structuralism proposes that one may understand human culture by means of a structure—modeled on language (structural linguistics)—that differs from concrete reality and from abstract ideas—a "third order" that mediates between the two.Essentially, human culture can be understood by looking at the mediumistic construct(s) which connect the person's abstract understandings of reality (when we understand reality, the model of reality we form in our head is called "abstract understandings"), with actual reality. Language is perhaps the most prominent example of a mediumistic construct. This is why linguistics is such an important part of structuralist and post-structuralist conversation. The distinction, however, between general structuralism and post-structuralism is post-structuralism's disagreement with structuralism on the range of meaning of these mediumistic constructs; post-structuralism essentially emphasises the plurality of meaning and the instability of concepts that structuralism uses to define society, such as language and literature.
Post-structuralist authors all present different critiques of structuralism, but common themes include the rejection of the self-sufficiency of structuralism and an interrogation of the binary oppositions that constitute its structures. Writers whose works are often characterised as post-structuralist include: Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Judith Butler, Jean Baudrillard, Julia Kristeva, and Jürgen Habermas, as well as others from the Frankfurt Schools, although many theorists who have been called "post-structuralist" have rejected the label.Existential phenomenology is a significant influence; Colin Davis has argued that post-structuralists might just as accurately be called "post-phenomenologists".Queer theology
Queer theology is a theological method that has developed out of the philosophical approach of queer theory, built upon scholars such as Michel Foucault, Gayle Rubin, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Judith Butler. Queer theology begins with an assumption that gender non-conformity and gay and lesbian desire have always been present in human history, including the Bible. It was at one time separated into two separate theologies; gay theology and lesbian theology. Later the two would merge to become the more inclusive term of queer theology.Subjects of Desire
Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France is a 1987 book by the philosopher Judith Butler. Her first published book, it was based on her 1984 Ph.D. dissertation.Suzana Tratnik
Suzana Tratnik is a Slovenian writer, translator, activist, and sociologist. She has published six short-story collections, two novels, a play, and three works of nonfiction. Her books and short stories have been translated into many different languages while Tratnik herself has translated several English books into Slovene, including works from authors such as Judith Butler, Adrienne Rich, Ian McEwan, and Truman Capote.In 2007 Tratnik was awarded the Prešeren Foundation Prize, one of Slovenia’s most prestigious literary awards. Her most recent work, Games with Greta and Other Stories, is forthcoming in translation from Dalkey Archive Press.Undoing Gender
Undoing Gender is a 2004 book by the philosopher Judith Butler.