The Trajectories of the Concept of Life in Judith Butler's Tthought
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In this paper we propose to look into different meanings of livability and life in Judith butler’s thought. Although crucial for her early work (she points to it in her 1999 Introduction to Gender Trouble), the concept of livability as such emerges more often and in a more pronounced manner in her later books (from Undoing Gender and Precarious life to Towards a Performative Theory of Assembly). Our main question is: what is the thread that runs through different concepts of life in butler’s work? What are the links between abject, unlivable, precarious, ungrievable, jettisoned and dispossessed life? this raises further questions the question of gradation of livability (which life matters and ‘how much’, and how to think this quantifiability of something so unquantifiable); and the question of universality (all lives matter). these questions obviously need to take into account the terms under which a life is qualified and counted as livable. such conditions encompass the norm...s that organize the possibility of recognition and the orders of recognizability and differential allocation of humanness. they encompass the ways in which we are constituted politically, but also in which this ‘we’ is social and bodily. the question of livable life is thus very much entangled with the issue of (individual) agency, but also with what we as agents require “in order to maintain and reproduce the conditions of (our) own livability” (Undoing Gender 2004: 39).