Dispossession: The Performative in the Political
April 2013, Polity
In the context of neoliberal expropriation of labor and livelihood, dispossession opens up a performative condition of being both affected by injustice and prompted to act. From the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa to the anti-neoliberal gatherings at Puerta del Sol, Syntagma and Zucchotti Park, an alternative political and affective economy of bodies in public is being formed. Bodies on the street are precarious - exposed to police force, they are also standing for, and opposing, their dispossession. These bodies insist upon their collective standing, organize themselves without and against hierarchy, and refuse to become disposable: they demand regard. This book interrogates the agonistic and open-ended corporeality and conviviality of the crowd as it assembles in cities to protest political and economic dispossession through a performative dispossession of the sovereign subject and its propriety.
1 Aporetic dispossession, or the trouble with dispossession 1
2 The logic of dispossession and the matter of the human (after the critique of metaphysics of substance) 10
3 A caveat about the "primacy of economy" 38
4 Sexual dispossessions 44
5 (Trans)possessions, or bodies beyond themselves 55
6 The sociality of self-poietics: Talking back to the violence of recognition 64
7 Recognition and survival, or surviving recognition 75
8 Relationality as self-dispossession 92
9 Uncounted bodies, incalculable performativity 97
10 Responsiveness as responsibility 104
11 Ex-propriating the performative 126
12 Dispossessed languages, or singularities named and renamed 131
13 The political promise of the performative 140
14 The governmentality of "crisis" and its resistances 149
15 Enacting another vulnerability: On owing and owning 158
16 Trans-border affective foreclosures and state racism 164
17 Public grievability and the politics of memorialization 173
18 The political affects of plural performativity 176
19 Conundrums of solidarity 184
20 The university, the humanities, and the book bloc 188
21 Spaces of appearance, politics of exposure 193
Athena Athanasiou teaches in the Department of Social Anthropology at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences.
- Accessible new book from one of the world’s leading critical theorists
- Examines what it means to be a dispossessed citizen today, the power relations involved, and citizen activism
- Engaging and though-provoking text that discusses key contemporary events such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement
- Goes beyond the conventional understanding of dispossession to discuss how an alternative and affective economy of bodies in public is being formed
"Full of fantastic and well-argued insights."
LSE Review of Books
"What makes political responsiveness possible? With their rich and distinct wealth of philosophical knowledge and continuous political engagements, leading feminist scholars Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou set out to answer this question. Beginning from an awareness that we are all relational and interdependent beings, their lucid, compelling exchanges encourage us all to reflect again on what feminist and queer theory can contribute to the search for forms of collectivity capable of intervening in battles against these cruel and precarious times."
Lynne Segal, Birkbeck, University of London and author of Making Trouble
"In a series of bite-sized conversations, Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou explore the concept of dispossession and show its links to subjectivity, relationality, occupation, precarity, bio-politics and collective protest. As they push each other for clarification and introduce a range of examples, they jointly craft a new vision of what 'performative politics' might entail."
Vikki Bell, Goldsmiths, University of London