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Eva von Redecker, Institute for Philosophy, Humboldt University Berlin, "Disobedience as association: Butler with Arendt on radical change."

SPA Research Seminar

Abstract: Usually, "subversion" or "resignification", the post-structuralist concepts for change put forward most prominently in the work of Judith Butler, are seen as the constricted, if not defeatist vocabulary of a political theory beyond hope for radical change or revolution. Contrary to this, I want to reconstruct Butler's notion of performative critique as a key term to account for social transformation.The norm-changing effect of a particular local practice was initially construed in Butler's analysis of the Drag Queen at the end of Gender Trouble. Interestingly, Butler gives there an account of critique closely mapped on acts of civil disobedience, especially as they were performed by ACT UP protesting the AIDS crisis. Yet within her own framework, Butler cannot account for the felicity conditions of the performative she envisages. Hannah Arendt's critique of individualist conceptions of civil disobedience provides the cue to solve this dilemma: only if we consider the collective dimension of deviant acts can we account both for their precarious stability and their transformative impact.Speaker Bio: Eva von Redecker works in the area of critical theory and social philosophy, both in the tradition of the Frankfurt School and from the perspectives of feminist and queer theory on social change, history, gender, property, recognition and power. Eva has authored an introduction to the work of Judith Butler and a monograph on Hannah Arendt's moral philosophy.

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Amory B315