Butler and the Affective Landscape of Grievability


Last week, Judith Butler gave the 2014 Edward Said Memorial Lecture at the Palestine Center of The Jerusalem Fund. It was titled “What is the value of Palestinian lives,” and it was streamed live so that you, too, can listen to it while making dinner for your family.

Butler’s topic of grievability is not new; in fact, it has become her regular schtick in recent  years, so much so, that listening to her lectures or reading her book Parting Ways is akin to a kind of academic political brand(ing). Brands are effective and comfortable in part because they short-circuit thought and plug immediately into familiar affective landscapes (reliability, for example, or hipness, or the panache of a certain class). While academic celebrities cannot avoid the “sticky affect” (Sara Ahmed) of this kind of branding, or (worse) the reactionary discursive tyrannies that sometimes devolve from it (i.e., if you want to…

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About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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