Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence

TitlePrecarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsButler, Judith
Number of Pages168

In response to the conditions of heightened vulnerability and aggression that have prevailed since September 11, 2001, the author in this work critiques the use of violence and argues for a response in which violence might be minimized, and interdependency becomes acknowledged as the basis for global political community. Following the expressions of public mourning post-September 11, the author asks why it's acceptable, even necessary to grieve some lives, while others are not valued or are even incomprehensible as lives at all. Questions of sovereignty, patriotism and censorship are all examined, especially in light of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Finally she investigates the way in which any criticism of the Israeli state is automatically labelled anti-Semitic, thus rendering all criticism of Israel a political taboo in the US and the UK. She counters that there is a responsibility to speak out against both Israeli injustices and anti-Semitism, and argues against the rhetorical use of the charge of anti-Semitism to quell public debate.

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