Synopses & Reviews
In Frames of War
, Judith Butler explores the media’s portrayal of state violence, a process integral to the way in which the West wages modern war. This portrayal has saturated our understanding of human life, and has led to the exploitation and abandonment of whole peoples, who are cast as existential threats rather than as living populations in need of protection. These people are framed as already lost, to imprisonment, unemployment and starvation, and can easily be dismissed. In the twisted logic that rationalizes their deaths, the loss of such populations is deemed necessary to protect the lives of ‘the living.’ This disparity, Butler argues, has profound implications for why and when we feel horror, outrage, guilt, loss and righteous indifference, both in the context of war and, increasingly, everyday life.
This book discerns the resistance to the frames of war in the context of the images from Abu Ghraib, the poetry from Guantanamo, recent European policy on immigration and Islam, and debates on normativity and non-violence. In this urgent response to ever more dominant methods of coercion, violence and racism, Butler calls for a re-conceptualization of the Left, one that brokers cultural difference and cultivates resistance to the illegitimate and arbitrary effects of state violence and its vicissitudes.
Frames of Warbegins where Butler"s Precarious Livesleft 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.
Profound exploration of the current wars, looking at violence, gender and different forms of resistance.
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 iek and Ernesto Laclau, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality.