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Title: Living with ambiguity : political subjectivity, responsiveness and futurity in the work of Judith Butler and Bracha Ettinger
Author: MacNamara, Nóirín
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 7256
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis provides a Butler-Ettingerian account of political subjectivity framed in terms of Derrida's democracy to-come. Levinas, Derrida and Ettinger can each be seen to consider the role and effects of'the beyond of the political in the political'. Levinas thinks of it in terms of transcendence, Derrida in terms of hauntology and Ettinger in terms of a transubjective level to subjectivity. Ettinger's is the most useful formulation because she provides parallel ways to thinking difference, desire, and signifying processes which are not structured in terms of language and cognitive knowledge, binary forms of difference, and desire for a 'whole' or transparent self. Within Ettinger's matrixial theory subjectivity is multi-levelled and incorporates two forms of difference, one of which is structured around a binary I/not-I logic, and the other of which is a difference-in-jointness and relates to the co-emergence of partial subjectivities characterised by severally, jointness-in-separation and distance-inproximity. I examine how these forms of difference contribute to an expanded account of sociality within which ambiguity within interhuman relations is an accepted part of social and political life and which enables responsiveness and futurity. Judith Butler provides an account of the conditions of social and political life which necessitate responsiveness. Butler demonstrates that corporeal vulnerability, the differential distribution of material and perceptual precarity, convergent temporalities and unchosen modes of cohabitation necessitate a re-thinking of ethics as a relational practice. Furthermore she stresses the importance of cultural translation so that our sense of obligation extends beyond any form of commonality. I contrast the reading of the Levinasian ethical relation which Ettinger and Butler each provide in order to demonstrate their different accounts of responsiveness and Ettinger's use of a feminine principle. I conclude that a Butler-Ettingerian account of political subjectivity is most suited to living with ambiguity and enabling futurity and responsiveness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available