Published: March 2016
Dispossession describes the condition of those who have lost land, citizenship, property, and a broader belonging to the world. This thought-provoking book seeks to elaborate our understanding of dispossession outside of the conventional logic of possession, a hallmark of capitalism, liberalism, and humanism. Can dispossession simultaneously characterize political responses and opposition to the disenfranchisement associated with unjust dispossession of land, economic and political power, and basic conditions for living?
In the context of neoliberal expropriation of labor and livelihood, dispossession opens up a performative condition of being both affected by injustice and prompted to act. From the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa to the anti-neoliberal gatherings at Puerta del Sol, Syntagma and Zucchotti Park, an alternative political and affective economy of bodies in public is being formed. Bodies on the street are precarious - exposed to police force, they are also standing for, and opposing, their dispossession. These bodies insist upon their collective standing, organize themselves without and against hierarchy, and refuse to become disposable: they demand regard. This book interrogates the agonistic and open-ended corporeality and conviviality of the crowd as it assembles in cities to protest political and economic dispossession through a performative dispossession of the sovereign subject and its propriety.
"A productive read and develops and discusses many key themes that cross disciplinary boundaries. The book will therefore prove useful to various readers."
"An engaging read... does an excellent job of articulating, in various ways, the need to conceptualise dispossession outside the logic of possession"
"What makes political responsiveness possible? With their rich and distinct wealth of philosophical knowledge and continuous political engagements, leading feminist scholars Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou set out to answer this question. Beginning from an awareness that we are all relational and interdependent beings, their lucid, compelling exchanges encourage us all to reflect again on what feminist and queer theory can contribute to the search for forms of collectivity capable of intervening in battles against these cruel and precarious times."
Lynne Segal, Birkbeck, University of London and author of Making Trouble
"In a series of bite-sized conversations, Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou explore the concept of dispossession and show its links to subjectivity, relationality, occupation, precarity, bio-politics and collective protest. As they push each other for clarification and introduce a range of examples, they jointly craft a new vision of what 'performative politics' might entail."
Vikki Bell, Goldsmiths, University of London