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Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence [Paperback]

Judith Butler
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 17, 2006 1844675440 978-1844675449 Reprint
In her most impassioned and personal book to date, Judith Butler responds in this profound appraisal of post-9/11 America to the current US policies to wage perpetual war, and calls for a deeper understanding of how mourning and violence might instead inspire solidarity and a quest for global justice.

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Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence + Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? + Dispossession: The Performative in the Political
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“It’s clear that its author is still interested in stirring up trouble—academic, political and otherwise.”—Bookforum

“A book that shines with the splendor of engaged thought.”—Brooklyn Rail

“Here is a unique voice of courage and conceptual ambition that addresses public life from the perspective of psychic reality, encouraging us to acknowledge the solidarity and the suffering through which we emerge as subjects of freedom.”—Homi K. Bhabha

“Judith Butler is quite simply one of the most probing, challenging, and influential thinkers of our time.”—J.M. Bernstein

About the Author

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Frames of War, Precarious Life, The Psychic Life of Power, Excitable Speech, Bodies that Matter, Gender Trouble, and with Slavoj Žižek and Ernesto Laclau, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; Reprint edition (August 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844675440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844675449
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Psychic Life of Power, Excitable Speech, Bodies that Matter, Gender Trouble, Frames of War, and with Slavoj Zizek and Ernesto Laclau, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality.






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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Moving, an Important Book of Our Day December 23, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
One of Butler's most accessible books, this is a phenomenally interesting and beautifully written investigation into human vulnerability and loss. Butler uses the political circumstances of the historical moment in which the book was written--just post 9/11, detainment of insurgents in Guantanamo Bay, and the crisis in the Middle East--to uncover the nature of human interdependency and to theorize what a political practice that takes such interdependency and vulnerability to others seriously might look like. While her examples might become slightly dated over time, her Levinasian analysis of the meaning of being human and of the kind of political and moral work needed to achieve true global peace will stand despite the passage of time. One note of criticism--some chapters are long and can get a little tedious after the first half of the book.
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17 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Others, Encore April 25, 2012
Format:Paperback
I have admired and enjoyed earlier works by Judith Butler, but this one came at, for her and this book, a most unpropitious moment in my personal historical experience. I had been on a six month journey to Israel attempting to rescue and offer refuge to four Palestinian queers--three men and one woman--who were in fear for their life for very good reason. Their pleas for justice and protection had been thoroughly ignored by the PLA, who basically told them they deserved whatever was coming to them. The only organization willing to give them material support was Keshet, an Israeli LGBT activist group in Tel Aviv.
When I was reading Butler's passages about the potential opportunities for cooperation between queers and Muslims (etc.) I could not help but look back on my experiences in Israel and, before that, my experiences in Iraq, where I had gone with a relief organization to assist gay men who had been victims of torture. I thought the book committed the error of the three friends in The Book of Job, who care more about their abstractions of the theory of retribution and G-d's justice (universalism) than about the stark and stubborn actualities of real lives. This is a book that needed far more research and hands-on experience to achieve respect or credibility in my eyes. Geopolitical realities dictate that an alliance between queers and political Islam is an even more extreme pipe dream than an alliance between queers and the Christian Right. Arguing otherwise seemed, I believe, one of the aftereffects of this author's clear anti-Zionist ideology. This is fine, but it led her into inaccurate, inappropriate, and mistimed political day dreams.
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15 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative book January 18, 2007
Format:Paperback
I read this book yesterday and just ate it up. It's not the usual esoteric examination by Butler. (Not that anything is wrong with that and I've read her other work, as well).

That said, the book is written for a lay audience and I think that this book needed to be published, since the responses of feminists to or after Sept 11th have been far and few. (Aftershock is a great book to read about Sept 11th from a feminist point of view).

I can't pinpoint what my favourite section of the book was, however, I enjoyed it all. It was refreshing to see a political theorist write about something "real" that is taking place today that many are discussing or living through.

This is a wonderful addition to her writing repertoire. I do hope to see her write more for a lay audience, since hopefully they will get their curiosity piqued and read more Butler.
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