Author Archives: adelamaz

puar, jasbir k. “introduction: homonationalism and biopolitics.” in terrorist assemblages: homonationalism in queer times. durham, nc: duke university press, 2007.

jasbir puar (ph.d. in ethnic studies) is an associate professor of women’s and gender studies at rutgers.  her interests include critical ethnic studies, cultural studies, feminist globalization studies, disability studies, immigration and diasporas, queer studies and sexuality studies.  terrorist assemblages is her first monograph and her second, affective politics: states of debility and capacity, will be released in 2014.  she is currently working on a third book (inhumanist occupation: sex, affect, and palestine/israel) while on fellowship at cornell university. 

  1. in the introduction to her first monograph, puar explores the interrelationship(s) between biopower and necropolitics evident in the production of a homonational subject that simultaneously engenders and disavows entire populations of “sexual-racial others who need not apply.”  she explores three manifestations of this project: sexual exceptionalism, queer as regulatory, and the ascendancy of whiteness.
  2. homonationalism: “an exceptional form of national homonormativity” (2)
  3. u.s. sexual exceptionalism
    1. exception and exceptionalism work in tandem -by marking for death a particular population so that the life of another population may be secured and valorized-  in order to produce the u.s. as simultaneously unique (a superior singularity) and universal (it is at once the paragon of appropriateness yet not beholden to its mandates).  
    2. u.s. exceptionalism feeds off of other exceptionalisms (and exceptional victimhood secures, rather than disputes, claims to exceptionalism).
    3. u.s. exceptionalism depends on a narrative of transcendence which places the u.s. as above empire (insofar as it is not subject to empire’s shortcomings yet empire is beyond the pale of its own morally upright behavior).
    4. homosexual sexual exceptionalism does not necessarily contradict its heterosexual counterpart but, rather, supports and conceals the classed, racial, and citizenship axes structuring the latter.
  4. queerness as a regulatory frame of biopolitics
    1. queer secularity, which demands a particular transgression of norms (through which queerness narrates its own sexual exceptionalism), marks queer religiosity as subjugated, sexually repressed (and repressive, rather than productive), and void of agency (reinscribing its own transgressiveness by comparison).  rendered a contradiction in terms, the proper gay/lesbian muslim subject is foreclosed, allowing only for the orientalist fantasy of perversely sexualized terrorist corporealities (always already queer and improperly so).
    2. queer operates as an alibi for complicity with other identity norms while concealing these violent complicities through its imagined inherent transgression. 
    3. the fantasy of queer secularity depends on and recirculates the conviction that “religious and racial communities are more homophobic than white mainstream communities are racist” (15), marking white secular queerness (a white secular queerness committed, if unwittingly, to the replication of neocoloniality) as fit for inclusion into a body politic imagined as multicultural, while simultaneously reinscribing the racialized other as too intolerant for inclusion.
    4. it is though an ideal queer subject imagined as free from norms that queerness becomes a regulatory mechanism contingent upon various regimes of mobility wedded to individualism and the rational, liberal humanist subject. 
    5. “[q]ueerness as transgression (which is one step ahead of resistance, which has now become a normative act) relies on a normative notion of deviance, always defined in relationship to normativity, often universalizing.  thus deviance, despite its claims to freedom and individuality, is ironically cohered to and by regulatory regimes of queerness – through, not despite, any claims to transgression.” (23)
  5. the ascendancy of whiteness
    1. drawing from rey chow’s notion of “the ascendancy of whiteness” (which “incorporates the multiplication of appropriate multicultural ethnic bodies” (25) through a management and domestication of difference (within and containing sameness) that obscures the primary beneficiaries of this project), puar explores the twin processes of multiculturalization and heterosexualization that extend the trappings of (white, straight) citizenship to the (straight) ethnic and the (white) queer (through an “affective be/longing that never fully rewards its captives yet nonetheless fosters longing and yearning of affects of nationalism” (32)). 
    2. this extension is interpellated through participation within global economic privilege that faction, fraction, and fractalize identity (which, in turn, allows for disidentification from disenfranchised populations and  consolidation with axes of privilege).
  6. queer necropolitics
    1. puar interrogates the tension between bio- and necropolitics (to the extent that “the latter makes its presence known at the limits and through the excess of the former [and] the former masks the multiplicity of its relationships to death and killing in order to be able to enable the proliferation of the latter ” (35)), contending that it is by exploring the collaboration between the two that the multiple spaces of the deflection of death can be attended to and that it is “within these interstices of life and death that we find the differences between queer subjects who are being folded back into life and the racialized queernesses that emerge through the naming of populations” (ibid.).

snorton, c. riley and jin haritaworn. “trans necropolitics” in the transgender studies reader vol. ii, aren aizura and susan stryker (eds.). new york, routledge, 2013. p. 66-76.

riley snorton (ph.d. in communication studies) is an assistant professor of communication studies at northwestern university.  his research interests include rhetorical and cultural theory, queer diaspora, media anthropology, africana studies, performance studies, and popular culture.  he is also a filmmaker (his documentary is entitled “men at work: transitioning on the job”).  his first monograph, nobody is supposed to know: black sexuality on the down low is currently under contract with the university of minnesota press.  (i caught his panel at the 2012 nwsa’s and he was a tremendously engaging speaker.)

jin haritaworn (ph.d. in sociology) is an assistant professor of environmental studies at york university.  their main areas of interest include transnational race, gender, and sexuality studies, feminist/queer/trans of color theories and activisms, urban and environmental justice, gentrification, bio-/necro-/geopolitics, and violence/affect.  they’ve penned and published two monographs (the biopolitics of mixing and queer lovers and hateful others) and a great deal of edited collections, articles, and essays.  i’ve never seen them speak  but i’d probably faint of awesomeness if i did.

  • snorton and haritaworn explore the ways in which trans bodies of color (and, particularly, transfeminine bodies of color) targeted for death facilitate the enhancement of homo- and transnormative life.  they examine the interrelationships between necropolitics (which points to the “centrality of death in contemporary social life” (66)) and biopower (“the carving out of subjects and populations” (ibid.)) evident in the vitalization of trans- and homonormative political projects as well as the development of a “newly professionalizing class of experts” (67)  made possible by the extraction of surplus value from trans of color death.
  • snorton interrogates the intricate network of beneficiaries produced by the afterlife of tyra hunter (a life valued only as the afterthought of a violent death).  in order to be rendered suitable for expropriation, tyra’s life -structured both by illegibility and spectacle- required a series of postmortem translations in order to be reincorporated under the more legible/sanitized sign of gay masculinity (a sign unable to accommodate the disposability of aberrant queerness typically assigned to black bodies or the illegibility assigned to transfeminine bodies of color)
  • haritaworn then discusses the production and incorporation of the german trans subject through a model of traumatized citizenship dependent on the threat of a racialized other (prefigured by existing scripts of muslim migrant homophobia).  hate crimes discourse, the result of the performative labor undergirding and concealing the racialization of gender and sexuality, produces both a victim-citizen (whose incorporated excess gestures to the colossal tolerance of the body politic) and a homophobic (muslim) perpetrator (who is once again deemed unfit to reproduce -and be reproduced by- the nation).  lodged firmly within urban policies of gentrification, touristification and securitization, the vitalization of homo- and transnormative political projects is wholly dependent on the spectacularized circulation of poor, trans(feminine) of color death.

berlant, lauren. “nearly utopian, nearly normal: post-fordist affect in la promesse and rosetta.” public culture19, 2(2007): 273-301.

lauren berlant is a professor of english at the university of chicago.  she writes about intimacy and belonging (particularly in relation to the history and fantasy of citizenship), and on public spheres as affect worlds.  her monographs include anatomy of a national fantasy (1991), the queen of america goes to washington city (1993), the female complaint (2008), and cruel optimism (2011).  a version of the assigned article appears in cruel optimism.

 

nearly utopian, nearly normal: post-fordist affect in la promesse and rosetta

  • as the title suggests, berlant uses la promesse and rosetta, two films by belgian filmmakers luc and jean-pierre dardenne, as sites through which she explores the affects of aspiration normativity in the globalized labor networks of late capitalism (and, particularly, in relationship to the figure of the child).  in other words, berlant asks and attempts to ask the question: “how do fantasy-practice clusters […] become the grounds for political and social conservatism?” (278)
  • “post-fordist affect as a scene of constant bargaining with normalcy in the face of conditions that can barely support even the memory of the fantasy.”
    • the post-fordist scene as a scene fragile and contingent communities, enmeshed impersonality and intimacy, and mass without collectivity. 
    • the “ordinariness of crisis” (280) (which renders the “catastrophic time of capitalism” (281) banal) as the temporality of post-fordist affect.
    • post-fordist agency as “that which bargains with [the world] by developing affective bonds or “promise” within the regime of production”; belonging as purchased by participation in the everyday economy.
    • hypervigilance as the main register of post-fordist affect.
    • affect (rather than emotion) as the unqualified/nonconscious (unqualifiable?/preconscious?) intensities that exist under or beyond meaning.
      • “the intensity of the need to feel normal is created by economic conditions of nonreciprocity that are mimetically reproduced in households that try to maintain the affective forms of middle-class exchange while having an entirely different context and anxiety to manage.” (292)
      • according to berlant, affect is deeply tied to modes of production and, “the productive instabilities of the contemporary capitalist economy” engender their own.
        • citizenship as “an amalgam of the legal and commercial activity of states and business and individual acts of participation and consumption” (274)
        • “dissatisfaction leads to reinvestment in the normative promises of capital and intimacy under capital.” (281)
        • the  promise of the “good life” presents itself as accessible through the “proper” capitalist life and is accessed (the promise of the promise, as it were) in moments that anticipate the better life (moments in which “the feelings of belonging to a world that does not yet exist reliably” (277) are approximated).   in other words, the figure of the working-class child scavenges through fantasy-practice clusters in order to access an approximation of what feels like the good life (never the good life itself).
          • these creative approximations are typically rerouted to repeat “some version of their parents’ perverse approximations of the normative good life.  in doing so, they repeat the attachments to fantasies that were made unavailable to them.
          • the “bad life” –> “a life dedicated to moving toward the food life’s normative/utopian zone but actually stuck in what we may call survival time, the time of struggling, drowning, holding on to the ledge, treading water, not-stopping.” <–  imagined normativity as a space of rest (the stillness of a dependable life) from the otherwise precarious existence of surviving.
          • the affective registers of privatization as aggressive fantasies of affective social confirmation in proximity to the political.
          • for berlant, excavating the logics of these affective practices is important insofar as they may odder a better understanding of how it is that forms associate with ordinary violence remain desirable (she offers that the answer may lie in the pleasure of familiarity and the stillness of upward mobility achieved).
          • psychoanalysis
            • love as a bargaining tool for convincing others to join in making a life (and that mitigates the ruthlessness/dehumanization of capitalist subjection).
            • compassionate recognition as both necessary for solidarity/movement-building and potentially politically obfuscating the differences between emotional and material kinds of social reciprocity
            • “children organize their optimism for living through attachments they never consented to making [and] they make do with what’s around that might respond adequately to their needs”  (296) <– to imagine the objects of desire that children develop attachments to as environments (rather than objects) allows for a scene to which one can return (a scene in which the subject negotiates an overdetermined set of promises and potentials).
            • justice as technology of deferral.
            • according to berlant, recognition and reciprocity can take many forms which are ambiguous, compromised, and unstable.
            • normativity as aspirational rather than hegemonic; as “something other than than a synonym for privilege.”  to imagine normativity as aspirational is to understand precarious subjects’ desire for the promise of the normative even as the very elusiveness of this normativity (coded as fantasy-practice clusters) inflicts suffering on the aspirational subject. 
            • “[t]he subordinated sensorium of the immaterial worker, whose acts of rage and ruthlessness are mixed with forms of care, is an effect of the relation between capitalism’s refusal of futurity in an overwhelmingly productive present and the normative promise of intimacy” (301)

 

questions

  1. how does blackness (and racial alterity) figure within the affective registers of post-fordism?  (i’m particularly interested in the racialized violences visited upon assita in what is otherwise discussed as the (white) affective bargainings of igor.)
  2. berlant recognizes that “even the category of “children is as volatile as the categories of citizen and worker [within] the flux of improvised survival habits that constitute existence in the contemporary economy” (284) yet calls the protagonists “children” as a result of their position within a network of intimacy that the author finds is structured primarily through a parent.  does the (sentimentalized) figure of “the child” (and its attendant normative linearity – i.e. childhood, adolescence, adulthood) haunt berlant’s conclusion (and process)? 

ahmed, sara. “the performativity of disgust.” in the cultural politics of emotion. edinburgh: edinburgh university press: 2004. p. 82-100.

(when i do the copy-paste, the formatting gets lost.  this technology will be the death of me.  please don’t pay attention to the bullet pointing, as this blogging has rendered it meaningless and i cannot figure out how to fix it.)

sara ahmed is an australian/british black feminist scholar of race and cultural studies at goldsmiths.  she has published a number of monographs (and over 60 articles), including the cultural politics of emotion (2004), queer phenomenology: orientations, objects, others (2006), the promise of happiness (2010), on being included: racism and diversity in institutional life (2012), and willful subjects (forthcoming).

the performativity of disgust

  • explores disgust not as a reaction to a quality inherent in objects felt to be disgusting but, rather, as a sticky process/project of abjection and ejection (as well as coherence and adherence) that is mediated by a concatenation of historically contingent ideas.
  • disgust and abjection
    • the materiality of feelings – like objects, feelings do things; there are not pure interiority (or exteriority) but, rather, a series of relationships between objects
    • the spatiality/mobility of disgust
      • disgust involves both desire for and repulsion by the object of disgust (an unresolved movement towards and from that animates the object)
      • it is dependent upon a contact (or proximity imagined as contact) that registers as offense (this is where the object becomes animated through the perceived movements of desire).
      • its mobility (a of substitution, metonymic or metaphoric) is not free but, rather, sticky.
      • it often works through and towards the spatialization of power to the extent that objects of disgust are associated with belowness/beneathness vis-a-vis subject, preserving the aboveness of the latter (at the cost of the latter’s vulnerability, which is also the cost of bodily survival).
  • the abject is that which threatens the fantasy of ontological integrity (an integrity threatened from the outside only insofar as that which threatens is already within); it is a turning “inside out, as well as outside in” (86).
  • disgust as both the cause and effect of borders (and as a contact zone): “borders need to be threatened in order to be maintained, or even to appear as borders, and part of the process of “maintenance-through-transgression” is the appearance of border objects” (87)
  • temporality of disgust – like other performative utterances, disgust involves both:
    • a time lag – the antecedent necessary for the availability of the “re” in reiteration, insofar as the object it generates/anticipates must be recalled an imagined past
    • futurity – insofar as it generates effects in the constitution of the object it anticipates; the iteration generates the object through the act of recoiling (an anticipatory act that generates the object it responds to).
    • stickiness
      • stickiness as “an effect of surfacing, as an effect of the histories of contact between bodies, objects, and signs.” (90) <– a historically contingent effect of contact and form of relationality (a “withness”) with questionable integrity.
      • things (can) become sticky as a result of contact with other sticky objects (affective transference); the production of stickiness is a process of re-surfacing.
      • stickiness binds and blocks through repetition.
      • performativity
        • performativity – “the way in which a signifier, rather than simply naming something that already exists, works to generate that which it apparently names” (92)
        • a successful performative utterance relies on the citation of norms and conventions already in existence;  it opens up the future by repeating past conventions (see note on temporality above).
        • because of its reliance on repetition in order to maintain itself, iterations (and iterability) relies on context that can be cut (stickiness resists such a cutting).
        • performative utterances anticipate not only the objects they name, but also the subjects that distance and define themselves through that naming (as well as the communities that are imagined as witnessing a particular utterance).
        • the performativity of disgust thus generates a community bound by the intelligibility of disgust, with the imperative to abject/expel the object of disgust (and to secure its stickiness) which has penetrated the integrity of the collectivity.
        • adherence does not always translate into coherence (disgust doesn’t always stick or, indeed, may work to unstick the object of disgust by resticking the sign to a different object).

questions

  1. ahmed ends her chapter by asking “what sticks?” (100).  in a similar vein, and insofar as the “bad tastes” produced by disgust are “bound up with questions of familiarity and strangeness” (83) (with badness sutured to strangeness),  how do some strangenesses (for instance, the foundational stranger) come to elude disgust’s metonymic/metaphoric slide?  in other words, what are the fields of contingency that allow for the mobilization of benign affect in response to some strangenesses?
  2. to the extent that disgust relies largely on the fantasy of ontological integrity, what might an alternative ontology (specifically one that does not imagine itself in unitary/sovereign terms) do to disgust?  (i guess a better question to begin with would be:  does ahmed imagine ontological integrity to be prediscursive, as (if i remember correctly) kristeva does?)

chen, mel y. 2012. “queer animality.” in animacies: biopolitics, racial mattering, and queer affect. durham, nc: duke university press. p. 89-126.

hi.  i’ve been trying to post this for a million hours but i really still cannot figure out these blog thingamabobs.  sorry.

mel y. chen is an associate professor of gender and women’s studies at u.c. berkeley; chen’s interests (as may be evident from the text we were assigned) are queer and gender theory, animal studies, critical race theory, disability studies, and critical linguistics.  also, dr. chen is a filmmaker, a very engaging speaker, and a super dreamy person.  dr. chen does not seem to use pronouns (though i was unable to locate an explicit conversation regarding pronoun preference), so i will refrain from doing so as well. 

queer animality
    the third chapter of chen’s first monograph (and the first of two chapters contained within the section on animals), “queer animality” proposes animacy theory as a suitable optic for complicating/interrogating the boundary between human and non-human and examining its biopolitical implications.  though rarely acknowledged as such, chen examines the mobility of animality -“the “stuff” of animal nature that sometimes sticks to animals, sometimes bleeds back onto textures of humanness” (p. 90)- as a primary mediator within animacy hierarchies (imagined ecologies/ontological propositions that enliven matter and expose matterings).  indeed, it is chen’s contention that the notion of animality “tugs on the ontological cohesion of “the human”” (p. 98), revealing certain subject positions (and inanimacies) as “having been rendered proximate to the human, though they have always subtended the human by propping it up (ibid.).
language
    according to chen, sentience is assessed primarily (and self-referentially, though not exclusively) through language, which serves as “a register of intelligence, judgment, and subjectivity and is a key criterion by which […] humans afford subjectivity -and sentience- to animate beings both within and beyond the human border” (p. 91).  to the extent that “linguistic criteria are established prominently and immutably in human’s terms” (ibid.), human preeminence is established prior to linguistic examination and maintained, in part, through the structural dismissal and exclusion of queer animalities (and those who approximate these performative improprieties).  chen examines the processes through which linguistic animal figures become (or already are) racialized and sexualized, concluding that  “animacy can itself be queer, for animacy can work to blur the tenuous hierarchy of human-animal-vegetable-mineral with which it is associated” (p. 98).
 animal theories v. animacy theory
    kept significatorily empty, the animal figure (not the actuality) represents a rich site for the interplay (and mediation) of a variety of axes of human difference.  in particular, chen examines the animal figure’s epistemological duties as a third term (one that emerges through the temporalized map of colonial difference) that frequently organizes/magnetizes otherness.
    chen understands the epistemological regions of queer*  and animal**  as deeply interrelated: the one’s naturalness frequently serving as alibi-through-analogy for the other and, in the “new natures”, through the sexual recombination of human and nonhuman animals within particular ontological folds.  though often less acknowledged within the realm  of animal studies, chen insists on a similarly inevitable and irreducible relationship between raciality, queerness, and animality and proposes an optic/sensibility that seeks to make them -and particularly the latter- consistently available for recognition.  thus, and recognizing that the animal position on an animacy hierarchy is particularly impossible to fix, chen offers animacy theory as a mobile alternative (and disruption) to animal theory.
animacy theory as optic
    chen turns to fin de siècle visual publics in order to evince the mediating role played by animality in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century processes of racialization (processes in which animality shifted, attaching itself to various groups and to differing effects).  the author then turns to (primarily) filmic representations of fu manchu, discovering a multi-axial porosity in his ambiguously (trans)gendered and animalized portrayal.  finally, chen examines the ways in which the queer and racialized animalities of intimate units deemed condemnable often constitute the limits of liberal privacy (a privacy that extends to biopolitical authorization of life itself).

* “[t]he social and cultural formations of “improper affiliation,” so that querness might well describe an array of subjectivities, intimacies, beings, and spaces located outside of the heteronormative” (p. 104)

**  “[a] flexible rubric that collides with and undoes any rigid understanding of animacy” (ibid.)

questions
1.  in chen’s queer reading of the mockery that is “marriage with a monkey”, the author suggests that the phrase “equates a particular kind of animal with the performative’s excess (and, perhaps, an affective excess inappropriate to the encounter), that which must be sloughed off for the performative to work efficiently and effectively” (p. 95, italics mine).  what happens to the excess once it’s been sloughed off?  in other words, can the queer excess be considered surplus capital?  if so, what is its value, to whom/what, and (if the “sloughing off” is part of a process of expropriation) what are the processes through which it becomes reappropriated?  
2.  chen concedes that the biopolitical ramifications of animality are far from uniform and that, indeed, its suggested fixity is one of liberal humanism’s fictions.  the author also discusses the animal figure as a significatorily empty comparative repository capacious enough to hold axiologically conflicting projections.  what, then, produces animalities that authorize/magnetize brutalization?

butler, judith. “indefinite detention” in precarious life: the powers of mourning and violence. new york, ny: verso, 2004. p. 50-100.

(note to the professor: i don’t typically capitalize my written work, but i can if you’d like me to.)

context

  • produced in the aftermath of 9/11 (published in 2004).
  • a reaction to the reaction:  butler seems to be concerned with the censorship of discourse/intellectual production that did not easily feed into the national chauvinism produced in the aftermath of 9/11 as well as the heightened violences that followed -and found their justification in- the event.  indeed, butler seeks to find alternative (specifically non-violent though not necessarily non-aggressive) reactions to grief and mourning.

“indefinite detention”

  • according to foucault, governmentality vitalizes (rather than legitimates) state power now that sovereignity (and sovereign power) –the state’s previous source of vitality- has lost credibility and function (to legitimate state power).  however, the emergence of the former does not always coincide with the devitalization of sovereign power (though it may depend on the devitalization of its traditional, unified form, according to butler) and that, indeed, the two can coexist.  butler contends that linear notions of history must be disrupted in order to understand sovereignty (a seeming anachronism) as it exists within the current field of governmentality.
  • butler argues that the new war prison (i.e. guantanamo) represents the current configuration of state power –one in which governmentality (in its management of populations) and the exercise of sovereignty converge through the suspension of law. 
  • further, butler argues that it is through the production of these states of exception that the state justifies and extends itself (and, indeed, butler imagines a u.s. sovereignty so augmented that it has deterritorialized to include its interests (67)).  this “lawless yet fully effective” (59) sovereign power constituted by the prerogatory power involved in the suspension of law is exercised (embodied?) by the executive branch (which muddles and negates the doctrine of division of powers) as well as administrative officials.  sovereign power is self-referential/tautological/circular insofar as its only aim is self-preservation/constitution; for this reason, managerial sovereigns (military officials) are not true sovereigns (insofar as they are not self-grounding).
  • butler worries that if these legally unaccountable (unaccountable to the law but also unaccounted by it) detentions, which are justified on the basis of a state of emergency, can be indefinite, a state of emergency can be indefinitely protracted as well and lawless power can be extended indefinitely.  indeed, she finds in indefinite detention “the means by which the exceptional becomes established as a naturalized norm” (67).
  • indefinite detention produces bare life (biological life stripped of all subjecthood/non-personhood) as a tactical exercise; it suspends life to produce a non-subject who is nonetheless subjected to state power.  further, this indefinite suspension of humanity (ethno-racial in its application and implications) serves to depoliticize (as irrational and illegible) the violences engaged by these (former? would-be?) nonhuman human actors.  thus, the violences engaged by intelligible states is produced as legitimate whereas the violences committed by those belonging to illegible or unrecognized polities (or non-state-centered political entities) is reproduced as illegitimate and irrational (to describe an act as one of terrorism is to deem such an act an illegitimate wielding of power).
  • “a spurious notion of civilization provides the measure by which the human is defined at the same time that a field of would-be humans, the spectrally human, the deconstituted, are maintained and detained, made to live and die within that extra-human and extra-juridical sphere of life.”   (91)

key concepts

governmentality: “[m]ode of power [operating through state and non-state institutions and discourses, and marked by a diffuse set of strategies and tactics] concerned with the maintenance and control of bodies and persons, the production and regulation of persons and populations, and the circulation of good insofar as they maintain and restrict the life of the population.” (52)

traditional sovereignty:  “[a] self-grounding and unconditioned basis for decision that has self-preservation as its primary aim” (65)

resurgent sovereignty:  an “anachronism that refuses to die” produced in the action and as the effect of the suspension/fabrication of the rule of law.

law:  used as both tactic of governmentality as well as suspended in order to constitute a resurgence of sovereign power.  “[t]he act of suspending the law [is] a performative one which brings a contemporary configuration of sovereignty or, more precisely, reanimates a spectral sovereignty within the field of governmentality.“ (61)

discussion questions

  1. for butler, what constitutes or confers “legitimate” authority (as opposed to illegitimate authority wielding “lawless and prerogatory [or rogue] power” (56)) within the field of governmentality (or at all)?
  2. is there anything exceptional(ly new) about the state of exception described by butler?  (or is it merely a recent iteration of the state of exception inaugurated in the americas in 1492?) (context:  butler mentions that while “indefinite detention” does not signify an exceptional circumstance […] [i]t becomes the occasion and the means by which the extra-legal exercise of state power justifies itself indefinitely, installing itself as a potentially permanent feature of political life in the u.s.” (67, emphasis mine). )