Butler and the Perfsormative

in Language of the Gun

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780226316086
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226316079 | DOI:
Butler and the Perfsormative

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This chapter explores the performative turn in the United States through a reading of Judith Butler. Practice theory is a realm that brings together decision making and symbolism in a dynamic relationship—a relationship that produces a more fluid conception of structures and a more structured notion of decision making. But it raises its own set of difficult questions. Do these scripts, identities, or habitus really shape conduct in a predictable way? Or are the scripted actions of the Catalina youths—young males at the Catalina Mountain School in Tucson, Arizona—merely performances that create the scripts and form the identities? Judith Butler raises precisely these kinds of questions in the context of gender identities in Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), offering an approach to interpreting the Catalina interviews. Butler presents a critique of the role that gender identities—in particular the feminine—play in and through identity politics.

Keywords: Judith Butler; practice theory; decision making; symbolism; Catalina youths; Catalina interviews; identity politics

Chapter.  4318 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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