Judith Butler talks at NYU Skirball Talks

I had the privilege of listening to Judith Butler speak on February 12th, 2018 and I wanted to take a moment to reflect because I was speechless by the endless conduits and channels in which her conversation inspires and challenges me to consider in my own studies and research. She spoke of how “we live through one another all the time.” As we spread gossip, read the news, tell stories, create art, and build relationships, we vicariously transform each other by reinforcing, challenging, and renegotiating the reality in which we live. I was deeply moved by her interweaving of José Esteban Muñoz with ideas of Freud, Benjamin, and Fanon among many other great thinkers.

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She comes to this conclusion that sometimes we are to search and find the utopia we imagine, but sometimes utopia comes to us undeniable. And when this utopia comes upon us, we have the choice to give way to solidarity in a collective convergence at the site of “disidentifications” to produce a temporal and spatial transformation of the subjections framed as a normalized reality. I’m not one to disagree, but Butler ends with this idea that queer is fractious with no uniformity in perspectives and methodologies and this for me conflicts with the concept of utopia. I’m not sure, but I think finding solidarity in a utopia is heroic, but maybe a heterotopia offers a better sense of inclusion as utopia can sometimes create a(n) in/visibility dialectic. Considering the heterotopia as Foucault had described could remind us that there is diversity in displacement, which I feel maybe aligns better with Butler’s notion of converging at the site of disidentifications.

Thus I am left to ponder: how do we understand the bridge between theory and practice and how do we consider what to “identify” to make means of common understanding, but also “disidentify” to acknowledge diversity?

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