"The images of these dead women do more than encourage a sickly necrophilia, an ogling over feminine corpses (as if this were not bad enough). These pictures propose an existing equivalence between women and object so that the actual death of a woman/object is immaterial, tautological and inconsequential. These pictures of the corpses of women turn women into images, images into corpses, women into death. And since we are told that these image-women are already objects, dead things, of their own volition, violence against women is kept decidedly outside of the frame: invisible, permissible and nobody’s fault but our own."
— “Woman, Object, Corpse: Killing Women Through Media,” Linda Stupart (x)
"For if I am confounded by you, then you are already of me, and I am nowhere without you. I cannot muster the “we” except by finding the way in which I am tied to “you,” by trying to translate but finding that my own language must break up and yield if I am to know you. You are what I gain through this disorientation and loss. This is how the human comes into being, again and again, as that which we have yet to know."
— Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, Andreas, Self-Eaters, and the Failed Historicity of Post-Coloniality (via tabularasae)
"The term ‘human’ is constantly producing a doubling that exposes the ideality and coercive character of the norm: some humans qualify as human; some humans do not, and when I use the term in the second of these utterances, I do nothing more than assert a discursive life for a human who is not the same as the norm that determines what and who will count as a human life, and what and who will not."
Judith Butler, Torture and the Ethics of Photography
(which became part of Frames of War)
Capital, Marx wrote, comes on the face of the earth dripping blood and dirt from head to toe, and indeed, when we look at the beginning of capitalist development, we have the impression of being in an immense concentration camp. In the ‘New World,’ we have the subjugation of aboriginal populations to the regimes of the mita and cuatelchil under which multitudes of people were consumed to bring silver and mercury to the surface in the mines of Huanvacelica and Potosi. In Eastern Europe, we have a ‘second serfdom,’ tying to the land a population of farmers who had never previously been enserfed. In Western Europe, we have the Enclosures, the Witch Hunt, the branding, whipping, and incarceration of vagabonds and beggars in newly constructed work-houses and correction houses, models for the future prison systems. On the horizon, we have the rise of the slave trade, while on the seas, ships are already transporting indentured servants and convicts from Europe to America.
What we can deduce from this scenario is that force was the main lever, the main economic power in the process of primitive accumulation…Primitive accumulation consisted in an inunense accumulation of labour-power—‘dead labour’ in the form of stolen goods, and ‘living labour’ in the form of human beings made available for exploitation—realized on a scale never before matched in the course of history."
— Caliban and the Witch, Sylvia Federici
"If the Islamic populations destroyed in recent and current wars are considered less than human, or “outside” the cultural conditions for the emergence of the human, then they belong either to a time of cultural infancy or to a time that is outside time as we know it. In both cases, they are regarded as not yet having arrived at the idea of the rational human. It follow from such a viewpoint that the destruction of such populations, their infrastructures, their housing, and their religious and community institutions, constitutes the destruction of what threatens the human, but not the human itself. It is also precisely this particular conceit of a progressive history that positions “the West” as articulating the paradigmatic principles of the human—of humans who are worth valuing, whose lives are worth safeguarding, whose lives are precarious, and, when lost, are worth public grieving."
— Frames of War, Judith Butler
In the Netherlands, for instance, new applicants for immigration are asked to look at photos of two men kissing and report on whether the photos are offensive, whether they are understood to express personal liberties, and whether the viewers are willing to live in a democracy that values the rights of gay people to free expression…We can see in such an instance how modernity is being defined as linked to sexual freedom, and the sexual freedom of gay people in particular is understood to exemplify a culturally advanced position, as opposed to one that would be deemed pre-modern.
And so a certain paradox ensues in which the coerced adoption of certain cultural norms becomes a prerequisite for entry into a polity that defines itself as the avatar of freedom. Is the Dutch government engaging in civic pedagogy through its defense of lesbian and gay sexual freedom, and would it impose its test on right-wing white supremacists, such as Vlaams Blok, who are congregated on its border with Belgium and who have called for a cordon sanitaire around Europe to keep out the non-Europeans? Is it administering the tests to lesbian and gay people to make sure they are not offended by the visibile practices of Muslim minorities?
Is the test a liberal defense of my freedom with which I should be pleased, or is my freedom here being used as an instrument of coercion—one that seeks to keep Europe white, pure, and “secular” in ways that do not interrogate the violence that underwrites that very project?"
— Frames of War, Judith Butler
"To follow our grief in this way, to think about and remark upon where it drifts and more importantly, where it does/dares not, is to begin to sketch the contours of the frame in which we reside; an exercise of uncovering guided by the hope of undoing."
From my newest post, “Where Grief Dare Not Go,” on my other blog.
Click through for the full piece.
"War sustains its practices through acting on the senses, crafting them to apprehend the world selectively, deadening affect in response to certain images and sounds, and enlivening affective responses to others. This is why war works to undermine a sensate democracy, restricting what we can feel, disposing us to feel shock and outrage in the face of one expression of violence and righteous coldness in the face of another."
— Judith Butler, Frames of War, p. 52
"When nations such as the US or Israel argue that their survival is preserved by war, a systematic error is committed…The reason I am not free to destroy another—and indeed, why nations are not finally free to destroy one another—is not only because it will lead to further destructive consequences. That is doubtless true. But what may be finally more true is that the subject that I am is bound to the subject I am not, that we each have the power to destroy and be destroyed, and that we are bound to one another in this power and precariousness. In this sense, we are all precarious lives."
— Judith Butler, Frames of War, p. 43