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Frames of War: When is Life Grievable?

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Frames of War begins where Butler’s Precarious Lives left off: on the idea that we cannot grieve for those lost lives that we never saw as lives to begin with. In this age of CNN-mediated war, the lives of those wretched populations of the earth—the refugees; the victims of unjust imprisonment and torture; the immigrants virtually enslaved by their starvation and legal disenfranchisement—are always presented to us as already irretrievable and thereby already lost. We may shake our heads at their wretchedness but then we sacrifice them nonetheless, for they are already forgone.

By analyzing the different frames through which we experience war, Butler calls for a reorientation of the Left toward the precarity of those lives. Only by recognizing those lives as precarious lives—lives that are not yet lost but are ever fragile and in need of protection—might the Left stand in unity against the violence perpetrated through arbitrary state power.

193 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

Judith Butler

209 books2,429 followers
Judith Butler is an American post-structuralist and feminist philosopher who has contributed to the fields of feminism, queer theory, political philosophy and ethics. She is currently a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley.

Butler received their Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University in 1984, for a dissertation subsequently published as Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France. In the late-1980s they held several teaching and research appointments, and were involved in "post-structuralist" efforts within Western feminist theory to question the "presuppositional terms" of feminism.

Their research ranges from literary theory, modern philosophical fiction, feminist and sexuality studies, to 19th- and 20th-century European literature and philosophy, Kafka and loss, and mourning and war. Their most recent work focuses on Jewish philosophy and exploring pre- and post-Zionist criticisms of state violence.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 61 reviews
Profile Image for Fleur.
309 reviews
March 23, 2016
She lost me a bit in the last chapter with all the talk about ego, psychoanalysis is just not my thing. But the rest of the book was super interesting. In true butler style it was incredibly detailed and well thought through, but luckily it was much more pleasant to read than bodies that matter.

Especially the chapters on photography (2) and the one about the neoliberal discourse of sexual liberation as the supposed meter of modernity (3) where cool and inspiring.

Because this book's subtitle is: " when is life grievable?" I was surprised that the book was so little concerned with analysing the power structures that make some bodies more grievable than others. I was hoping to find this for a paper, but I have to look elsewhere.

Nevertheless very interesting, especially if your looking for theory to understand the war on terror and other civilising mission, the framing of religious minorities, like Muslims and how we talk about war and violence.
Profile Image for Steffi.
272 reviews238 followers
April 23, 2017
Ugh. Tough one. Bigger picture: the book, from what I understand (as always, Butler lost me at times), calls, among other things, for a reconceptualization of the left united in opposing and resisting interventionist military action and violence. This is probably one of the more important philosophical projects of our time.

Today's mainstream 'centre-left' of Democrats/Labour/Social Democracy by and large support 'humanitarian or human rights based military interventions' 'R2P' etc. There is little point, philosophically speaking, in making the case against interventionist military action purely on the grounds of their failed effectiveness, e.g., that the taliban is just as strong as 2001 or that the Iraq and Syria wars have essentially created ISIS, that the whole region is on fire. Nor just on the grounds that they work in the interest of the wrong guys aka imperialists.

The five essays written between 2004 and 2008 aim to 'deconstruct' or 'critically analyse' how popular assent to war is cultivated and how war waging acts upon the senses so that war can be thought of being 'inevitable', 'good' and even 'morally satisfactory'.
The opposition to war has to take place, in part, through remaking the conditions of its possibility and probability.

Indeed it would help the anti-war left if the what I call 'uncritical Left' actually deconstructed modern wars and violence (torture, secret prisons but also certain immigration policies and links with the weapons industry) in that way rather than wholesale adopting the humanitarian interventionist con and being unable to understand the direct link between, say, the US air base Ramstein in Germany and German weapon exports and escalating conflicts in other parts of the world.

While I - courtesy either Butler's peculiar language and/or my own limited cognitive abilities - did not understand everything, a key concept is that of 'precarious life'. Butler aims to revive the 'discourse of life' for the left (not an unproblematic one for the left which favours reproductive freedoms as pro-choice etc). According to Butler, there's no life without the conditions of life, and those conditions are pervasively social and, as such, precarious. To say that 'life is precarious' is to say that the possibility of being sustained relies fundamentally on social and political conditions. This mode of 'social ontology' of life has concrete political implications. Our (ethical, political) obligations are to the conditions that make life possible, not to life itself, to provide those basic supports that seek to minimize precariousness in 'egalitarian ways' (the focus on egalitarian / differential distribution of precariousness is key here).

Second: We cannot easily recognize life outside the 'frames' in which it is given, and those frames not only structure how we come to know and identify life but constitute sustaining conditions for those very lives.
Within certain frames some lives are recognized as lives and, as such, grievable (eg victims of Assad or victims of a terrorist attack in Paris) and some are not recognized as lives per se (eg hundreds of thousand casualties since the beginning of the Iraq war, thousands of refugees drowned, millions dying from famine).

Wars attempt to maximize precariousness for others, while minimize precariousness for the power in question. The differential distribution of precariousness is both material and perceptual since those whose lives are not 'regarded' as potentially grievable are made to bear the burden of starvation, underemployment and differential exposure to violence and death.
The shared human condition of precariousness leads not to reciprocal recognition, but to a specific exploitation of targeted populations, of lives that are not quite lives, populations that are 'lose-able' or can be forfeited precisely because they are cast as threats to human life as we know it rather than as living populations in need of protection from illegitimate state violence, famine or pandemics. A critique of war must start with deconstructing these frames.

Yeah, sounds a little WTF. I realize, as I am writing this, that there is little to no point in isolating a few key thoughts without reproducing the wider theoretical/conceptual framework. You'll just have to read the whole book, wrestle the beast (unless you are very familiar with her overall work and used to the fucking painful language it does, at times, feel a bit like a struggle).
Profile Image for Paige.
75 reviews3 followers
April 18, 2020
found the essays to be pretty repetitive at times, but still another absolute banger by JB
Profile Image for Erdem Tasdelen.
71 reviews21 followers
April 26, 2010
Very well articulated as always, but quite repetitive. Didn't really make me think about anything I hadn't already thought about.
The two essays "Sexual Politics, Torture and Secular Time" and "Non-Thinking in the Name of the Normative" were great. The other ones aren't really necessary to read if you've already read Precarious Life.
27 reviews8 followers
March 31, 2021
I find the concept of grievable lives very interesting, which is why I started this book. Butler, however, makes the book unnecessarily difficult to read by trying to make it more 'academic'. I wish she did not do this because it is an important book/topic that more people should read! That being said, particularly chapter 2 stood out to me and I am happy I finished it.
17 reviews
September 20, 2010
Butler argues from a we're all, that is, ALL, precarious beings. Recognition of the vulnerability of our lives is a great place to begin her protest against humans engaging in war. Fabulous book so far. More to write when I finish.
Profile Image for Kay Em.
49 reviews
July 25, 2022
“We judge a world we refuse to know, and our judgement becomes one means of refusing to know that world.”

sooo dense, but soooo good.
Profile Image for Lobstergirl.
1,716 reviews1,243 followers
April 5, 2016

Each of these essays had been published previously. (Sometimes this makes a book less cohesive, or repetitive.) There are good ideas here, but unfortunately the academic jargon limits the number of readers who will find them accessible. A discussion of the Abu Ghraib photographs (as a locus of the homophobia of the U.S. military, Islam's shaming of homosexual acts, and viewable and re-viewable pornography) was highly readable, as was one on a Dutch policy that asked immigration applicants to look at pictures of two men kissing and state whether they found the pictures offensive. (Approval of homosexuality being a sign of modernity, a requirement for anyone who wanted to join in society. The policy has since been abandoned.)
Profile Image for Andy.
121 reviews10 followers
August 7, 2019
I took a bit of a break between two of the essays but this was a good book, just as good as Precarious Life and essentially the same topic.
Profile Image for Greg Florez.
40 reviews
May 16, 2022
“Sexual Politics, Torture, and Secular Time” is an incredible essay, my favourite from the collection really.
Profile Image for Dwight Davis.
605 reviews35 followers
May 15, 2022
Still incredible politically salient, even if I do find the non-violence chapter to be a bit too abstract and idealistic. I think that the framework Butler uses to think through non-violence is helpful and maybe actually demands redefining what non-violence means beyond a sort of idealistic Butlerian “Fuck you” and into a more active sort of survival mechanism.
Profile Image for Rodney Likaku.
44 reviews2 followers
December 1, 2020
Read a few comments below of people suggesting that this book is undigestable, convoluted, and written for a specific audience. Which could be certainly true, I guess when you are a professor you can get away with making references to people like Hegel and Hobbes under the presupposition that your readers know that you are speaking of sections from the leviathan and/or the master-slave dialect.

Two reservations on my part are that the entire construction of the book can do with some logical restructuring: that is to say that a few minor instances where without realising Butler contradicts herself: so, for example, a lot of reference ego psychologists (Freud, Klein) and individualism in photographic theory (Sontag etc) dismiss her writing position which is obviously sociological and could do with references that she no doubt has read and either ignores or just does see the benefit of adding to an already robust theoretical angle. But simply put there is the tension of her reading the notion of individual (non) violence (a point that she makes in her final essay) versus her position on war crimes, torture, mournability, precarity etc. Basically, one cannot go to war with themselves in international terms and yet her theoretical position is cultural in its disposition by acknowledging this de facto and yet individual theoretically (how can we mourn the/a body says Freud?). This is somewhat rectified in her third essay where she looks at sociology in light of torture. The second is the lack of cohesion with theorists that she engages to make her argument where she does--so the mention of Althuisser, and absolute obliteration where she does not--in a particular she makes a rather compelling argument on language and morphology without necessarily citing any sources or when she speaks "against interpretation". Then leads into a reading of form and content vis-a-vis framing of the photograph and war. The result is an inter-text of material that causes one not too familiar with such heavy-headed servings of 20th-century theory, writing, and subject matter to easily dismiss what is perhaps a really good work.

Despite these basic issues from someone who is a really prominent thinker, the collection is a powerful meditation on the role of who is mournable by consideration. Butler extends her previous position on precarious lives and the way that they are seen arguing that there are different levels of mournability based off of framing (a point that she locates neatly in her thoughts of photographs) and the ethical duties of mourning. Finally in "The claim of non-violence" she argues that resistance can itself be a violent act if only as a way of going against interpretation. It is reframing, or the frame, by the notion of non-participation and so it can only be a claim. If one goes to these essays and reads a section hoping to understand Butler's position they are doing themselves a disservice, it is a connection of thought that one must trace rather clearly and in defence of her writing, it really is a question of questions with different ways of reframing for to have found one frame with which to engage mournability or precarity would be in itself an ego position of violence.

Profile Image for Malin H.
50 reviews2 followers
May 23, 2020
Under vilka omständigheter är krig legitimt?
Svara inte.
Ställ dig nu istället frågan: vilka omständigheter får dig att tro att den frågan är legitim?

- Representationen av krig -
Judith Butlers bok handlar om krig och representation, om hur krig (framför allt krig som har förts av USA) implicit legitimeras genom kommunikationsplattformar kontextuellt och historiskt färgade ramar, normer och maktstrukturer. Hon skriver om hur journalistiska krigsberättelser i form av ord, bild och ljud, blir en del av kriget, om hur kameror och inspelningsmikrofoner “both frame and form the human and non-human target” (s.64) och refererar till Susan Sontags böcker.

Butler använder sig av begreppet “embedded reporting”, för att beskriva hur media på ett problematiskt vis rapporterar om krig från ett visst, på förhand bestämt, perspektiv. Med det sagt menar inte Butler att mediala representationer av krig inte är viktigt, utan tvärtom skriver hon om att det i vissa fall, vissa typer av berättelser är centrala för att skapa opinion mot krigföring, såsom den ocensurerade poesi från Guantánamo-fångar eller tortyrbilder från Abu Graib. Apropå denna dubbelhet skriver hon: "The photos have functioned in several ways: as an incitement to brutality within the prison itself, as a threat of shame for the prisoners, as a chronicle of a war crime, as a testimony to the radical unacceptability of torture, and as archival and documentary work made available on the internet or displayed in museums in the US, including galleries and public spaces in a host of venues." (p.92)

De mediala ramar styr alltså vår epistemologiska förståelse av krigföring, dvs den kunskap vi får om krig. Men ramarna styr också den ontologiska förståelsen och ger ontologiska effekter, dvs de formar synen av vad ett “riktigt” liv är och vilket liv (och vilken död) som leder till politiska förändringar.

- Om prekära/osäkra liv -
Butler använder sig av begreppen “precarious lives, “livable lives” och “socially dead” för att beskriva processen av hur människor i länder drabbade av krig avhumaniseras, delvis till följd av deras extremt prekära levnadssituation. (Butler understryker att alla människor lever prekära liv, i och med att alla är beroende av sociala nätverk för sin överlevnad, men att vissa människor lever mer prekära liv än andra, på grund av till exempel krig eller fattigdom.) Därför föreställs motparten i kriget som en plats där människor inte “lever” sina liv; liven är prekära/osäkra, fördrivna, ovärdiga, och därför sörjs dessa liv inte på samma sätt som “levande liv” i länder väst/globala norr: “Those we kill are not quite human, and not quite alive, which means that we do not feel the same horror and outrage over the loss of their lives as we do over the loss of those lives that bear national or religious similarity to our own.” (s.42). Hon exemplifierar genom kriget mellan Israel och Palestina: "Even if there are significantly fewer Israelis who have died from this conflict than Palestinians, it remains true not only for Israelis but for most every public media, that the graphics of Israeli life, death, and detention are more vibrant; it conforms to the norm of human life already established, is then more of a life, is life, whereas Palestinian life is either no life, a shadow-life, or a threat to life as we know it." (introduktion, s.333).

- Misogyni och homofobi som en del av krigföring -
I kombination med att människor i “andra länder vi krigar med” framställs som omänskliga, framställs de även som misogyna och homofoba (särskilt i muslimska länder). Butler har dedikerat ett kapitel åt detta där hon beskriver hur sexuella och feministiska progressiva värden används som ett legitimerande skäl för krigföring. Detta är ett enormt hyckleri, vilket inte minst visas genom de misogyna och homofoba tortyrmetoder som används av amerikansk militär: "The scene of torture that includes coerced homosexual acts, and seeks to decimate personhood through that coercion, presumes that for both torturer and tortured, homosexuality represents the destruction of one’s being.” (s. 90); “If we want to speak about “specific cultures,” then it would make sense to begin with the specific culture of the US army, its emphatic masculinism and homophobia, and ask why it must, for its own purposes, cast the predominantly Islamic population against which it wages war as a site of primitive taboo and shame.” (s.128); “What kind of encounter is this, then, at the scene of torture, in which a violent homophobia and misogyny exploit the presumptive homophobia and misogyny of its victims?" (s.131).

- Kritiska frågor vägen framåt -
Butler menar på att motståndet mot krigföring måste ske genom ett ifrågasättande av de premisser som den offentliga diskursen om krig bygger på: "[...]the opposition to war has to take place, in part, through remaking the conditions of its possibility and probability. Similarly, if war is to be opposed, we have to understand how popular assent to war is cultivated and maintained." (s.57).
Vi måste kritiskt granska krigsramarna, upprepa-med-skillnad, skriva Andra berättelser som motstånd, och försöka tala om krig utan ramar. Så tillbaka till frågan: vilka omständigheter får oss att tro att det är legitimt att leta efter argument för att legitimera dödandet av Andra människor?

- Fler frågor från Butler att fortsätta grubbla på: -
“As we watch video or see an image, what kind of solicitation is at work? Are we being invited to take aim? Are we conscripted into the trajectory of the bullet or missile?” (s. 173)
“How do we begin to think about ways to assume responsibility for the minimization of precarity?” (s.33)
“But what are the implicit frames of recognizability in play when I “recognize” someone as ‘like’ me? What implicit political order produces and regulates “likeness” in such instances?” (s.36)
“In these contexts, have feminism and the struggle for sexual freedom become, horrifyingly, a ’sign’ of the civilizational mission in progress? Can we even begin to understand the torture if we cannot account for the homophobia in the military as it acts on populations who are formed religiously through a taboo on homosexuality?” (s.131)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Yvonne.
51 reviews6 followers
March 13, 2017
I think Frames of War is a very important book that is definetely worth engaging with. It gives valuable insight into politics and its connection to aesthetics, with "Torture and Ethics of Photography: Thinking with Sontag" as the strongest chapter in my opinion. Sometimes the connection between the individual chapters is a little bit too forced (as some of the chapters had been published as articles before). However, I advise everyone interested in politics, ethics or the representation strategies of the media in general, to read this book.
Profile Image for Jessica Zu.
1,112 reviews126 followers
April 24, 2013
Typical dense prose ... but if she loosens it up, peppers them with relevant anecdotes, then the book will be 1000pages long ...
or she could leave thoughts undeveloped, as Barthes did, giving her writing an aphoristic quality, then that's not Butler any more.
What a dilemma!
Anyway, She is still my hero. the arch-deity in my pantheon XD
Profile Image for Sevim Tezel Aydın.
529 reviews33 followers
July 3, 2022
Kitapta ABD güdümlü savaşlarda, savaş algısının nasıl yönetildiği üzerine beş makale var. Yer yer tekrarlar olsa da, Judith Butler'in şiddet ve kültür üzerine yazdıkları düşündürücü. En çok "Cinsiyet Siyaseti, İşkence ve Seküler Zaman" makalesini sevdim, bana "modernlik" nediri sorgulattı… Kendime not "kitabı orijinal dilinde okumak daha iyi bir seçim olabilirdi"...
Profile Image for Cynthia.
13 reviews16 followers
July 13, 2014
All the ideas in this book are in Precarious Life, just not developed so well. These two books should have been one, more carefully developed, collection of essays.
Profile Image for jose coimbra.
175 reviews21 followers
September 20, 2017

Judith Butler no livro 'Quadros de Guerra: Quando a vida é passível de luto?', publicado originalmente em 2009, sendo a edição brasileira de 2015, retoma as linhas de força de seu livro de 2004, 'Precarious Life'. Do título original, 'Frames of War: When is Life Grievable', Butler sublinha a relação entre 'frame', quadro, e o ato de enquadrar, realizar enquadramento, produzir molduras pelas quais apreendemos a vida dos outros.

O ponto de partida do ensaio de Butler é a importância de se notar a condição precária como constituinte de qualquer concepção relativa ao sujeito ou à subjetividade, tanto quanto capital para a compreensão da relação com o outro. Daí a autora também questionar a ideia de pessoa como individualidade.

O questionamento acima tem como corolário o uso das normas como vias de reconhecimento de formas de diferença. Esse reconhecimento está pautado na primazia do entendimento de que a moldura pela qual a realidade é apreendida deixa sempre escapar algo, um resto que a ultrapassa e que deve se fazer presente seja na definição de si, que não se resume a uma individualidade, seja na relação com o outro, que se constitui como alteridade.

A linha seguida por Butler acaba por revelar os motivos pelos quais ela não se vale de preceitos comuns ao multiculturalismo. Isso porque, segundo o argumento, o multiculturalismo pressuporia comunidades constituídas e, por conseguinte, sujeitos já estabelecidos.

Não partir de um dado a priori é importante para Butler, uma vez que seu foco não é o de ressaltar políticas identitárias, mas, antes, o de fazer surgir a precariedade que nos constitui e suas distribuições diferenciais [55]. É por essa via que ela indaga a possibilidade de que "talvez possamos repensar a liberdade […] como uma condição de solidariedade entre minorias, e perceber como é necessário formular políticas sexuais no contexto de uma crítica incisiva da guerra" [196].

O movimento adotado pelo livro, tal como em 'Precarious Life', é o de investigar como novas constelações podem propiciar outros entendimentos sobre a normatividadae [207]. Nesse sentido, outra vez ressalta a distinção entre performatividade e construção [238], sobretudo quanto à impossibilidade de se determinar uma origem das normas. Ou seja, não se trata de partir de algo dado, mas de constituir a subjetividade a partir de atos. Daí o uso do termo iterabilidade [237], também proposto por Derrida, que ressalta a possibilidade de repetição e alteração, mudança e deslocamento, sem o apelo a um referente.

O projeto ético e político apresentado por Butler ressalta que o reconhecimento do outro implica a apreensão da precariedade que é própria à vida e que não está adstrita a um indivíduo, dependendo de condições sociais e políticas. É assim que ela afirma que "as condições sociais da minha existência nunca são completamente determinadas por mim" [241]. É por esse motivo também que a precariedade seria a "condição generalizada para toda e qualquer estratégia, somos precariedade compartilhada”[256]. A conclusão de Butler mostra o fio da navalha onde seria preciso encontrar o lugar a partir do qual estabelecer a luta que se exigiria agora: “Nenhum sujeito tem o monopólio sobre 'ser perseguido’ ou 'ser perseguidor', nem mesmo quando histórias fortemente sedimentadas (formas de reiteração densamente combinadas) produziram esse efeito ontológico" [255].

O desafio proposto por Butler é patente igualmente nesta citação:

"Reconhecer a violência não garante, de modo algum, uma política de não violência. Mas o que pode perfeitamente fazer diferença é considerar a vida precária e, portanto, também a condição de violável uma condição generalizada, em vez de uma maneira diferencial de marcar uma identidade cultural, isto é, como um traço recorrente ou atemporal de um sujeito cultural que é perseguido ou violado por definição e independentemente da circunstância histórica" [250-1].


BUTLER, Judith. Quadros de guerra: Quando a vida é passível de luto? Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2015.
Profile Image for Cerebralcortext.
36 reviews
May 1, 2018
Frames of War was highly insightful, and Butler’s perspicacious observations and conclusions are necessary in today’s political and social climate. Her proposed notions of generalised precarity, grievability, and the need for critical discursions on the framing of norms provide tools for getting ourselves out of the impasse upon which current formulations of multiculturalism, identity, and liberalism have foundered. To be sure, Butler does not advocate for the disposal of these norms, but for them to be critiqued and appropriated into a “novel Left politics” that draws attention to the coercive nature of the State, and differentials in precarity, in an effort to reframe the dominant narrative of antagonism for a more egalitarian coalition. As has been highlighted (to the point that Butler had to address it in her preface to Gender Trouble), her prose is difficult and several passages required extensive rereading, sometimes out loud. Chapter 5 might also come across as abstruse to those either dismissive of or without a grounding in Freudian psychology. Nevertheless, the refreshing poise and intellectualism prevalent throughout the text makes it very much worth the effort, with chapters 2 and 4 being my personal standouts of such delight commensurate to the exertions required of my weak mind.
Profile Image for Guilherme Smee.
Author 21 books113 followers
November 21, 2017
Neste livro, a palavra quadro - frame, em inglês - faz todos o sentido. Judith Butler examina a guerra e a violência através desses quadros, seja no enquadramento da foto ou de televisão, seja no ato de enquadrar determinado grupo a um lugar predeterminado. Em cinco capítulos, Butler analisa os poemas feitos em copos plásticos pelos prisioneiros de Guantánamo e como a expressão do sofrimento ajuda tanto a expiar o mesmo como a dizer quem somos. Em seguida ela analisa a divulgação das torturas na prisão de Abu Ghraib feita por fotos e vídeos de abusos sexuais pelos soldados americanos aos prisioneiros afegãos. Depois, ela traça um paralelo e tenta cruzar semelhanças e discrepâncias sobre o enquadramento de ser homossexual e muçulmano, se são identidades passíveis de uma multiculturalidade ou se são impraticáveis. No quarto capítulo ela tenta explicar se e por que existe algo normativo. Para encerrar tentando explicar que a súplica pela não violência pressupõe já uma violência em si. Por fim, só tenho a dizer que quanto mais leio de Judith Butler, mas me identifico e faz ressoar em mim e para mim seus escritos.
Profile Image for Jim.
2,573 reviews138 followers
March 12, 2018
i love Judith Butler... sure, there are times when she name-drops/concept-drops and drops me, not being as amazingly well-read and damned-smart like she is, but she makes me think and reorganize myself and my approaches to just about everything... she makes me feel dumb, but in a nice way... she forces me to read more, to understand more, to wonder more, to question more... this book really takes aim at the US/West and its continual war on The Other... she poses the challenges: who matters? how to grieve lives that don't matter? who decides who matters? how do we fight state power attempting to define us, erase others? lots of discomfiting passages, if the reader is a pro-US/pro-Western Civilization type... prepare to be disabused of many notions and concepts you thought to be rather concrete and unassailable... a fantastic framing of life... essential reading, anytime.
Profile Image for Andrea.
71 reviews12 followers
December 2, 2020
Es mi primer acercamiento como lectora a Butler y me pareció fascinante. Por obvias razones, no estoy acostumbrada a su escritura y tuve que releer dos ensayos (lo cual no es una queja, las desveladas valieron la pena). Si bien en definitiva la introducción y el primer capítulo son el eje central del argumento, las derivaciones de esos temas que se manifiestan en los siguientes cuatro ensayos, son muy muy interesantes. Me hubiese encantado saber más de psicoloanálisis para entender mejor su postura sobre la no violencia que me pareció muy polémica y confrontativa con mis posicionamientos políticos; pero fuera de ello, es un libro tremendamente reflexivo y del que se disfruta la lectura.
Profile Image for Juanjo.
125 reviews8 followers
June 4, 2021
Probably works better as a companion piece to Precarious Life. These are collected essays grouped together with not one 'single' argument but general thoughts on war, so it can repetitive and it often touches on the same subjects in a similar way. I think it wouldn't be much of a problem if Butler didn't have such a thick writing style, which is not necessarily bad in itself, they like to be thorough in their wording to construct a very solid view on an extremely important matter. I enjoyed the one partially about Sontag the most, though it also helps to be familiar with her essays about photography and violence.
Profile Image for Nawara Zantah.
6 reviews1 follower
March 19, 2018
It contains five essays inspired by contemporary war; they focus on cultural modes through an eclectic framing of violence. I like when Butler states how the viewer forms moral criticism in response to photography like for example in Abu Ghraib' photographs when the camera angle, the photographs' frames, and the presented subjects all suggest that photographers who captured the violent events were involved in its scene!
I totally agree that the impact of photography on the viewer takes place in contrast to the viewer's will!
It is an important and rhetorical book! I recommend it
Profile Image for Margaret Robbins.
234 reviews17 followers
November 23, 2018
This book was very helpful to read in regards to increasing my theoretical understanding. In particular, I loved the chapters where she revisited some of Sontag's theories on the image, which I read in graduate school and appreciated. I thought the book got a bit repetitive at times, but overall, I found it a very important and interesting read. I think the frames of war theoretical understanding is important to have during our current political climate and the #metoo movement.
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