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Butler, Judith (1956–)

DOI: 10.4324/0123456789-DD3599-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2018
Retrieved April 12, 2024, from

Article Summary

Judith Butler (1956–) is an American philosopher working in feminist and queer theory, psychoanalysis and continental philosophy. She is known for her work on gender, sexuality, power, vulnerability and identity. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Butler attended Bennington College and did her graduate work in philosophy at Yale University, receiving her PhD in 1984. She has held teaching positions at Wesleyan University, George Washington University and Johns Hopkins University, and since 1993 has taught at the University of California at Berkeley.

Butler engages a wide range of themes across her work, including but not limited to sexed and gendered embodiment, performativity, psychic and political subjection, public assembly, war, violence, dispossession and vulnerability. Despite the impressive breadth and range of her writings, Butler’s corpus evidences a sustained interest in various kinds of susceptibility, vulnerability, exposure and dispossession that constitute the human subject both ethically and ontologically. Dispossession operates for Butler in several registers: the political, the ethical, the personal, the intersubjective, the social and the symbolic. She writes on the vulnerability of sexed and gendered minorities to both physical and psychic violence, the failures of recognition and misrecognition that render certain groups disproportionately available to harm, the vulnerability of the nation-state and the illusory nature of sovereignty, the vulnerability of all subjects to myriad forms of normative violence, and the precarious access to basic human needs endured by certain populations. Butler also explores the idea that gender itself operates as a mode of dispossession.

Citing this article:
Murphy, Ann. Butler, Judith (1956–), 2018, doi:10.4324/0123456789-DD3599-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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