Critical Horizons 23 (2):172-187 (2022)

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Gavin Rae
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Abstract
ABSTRACT Judith Butler’s work has tended to be read through two axes: an early gender theory/later ethical theory division, and/or an ethical/political divide. In contrast, I aim to undercut both hermeneutical strategies by turning to her epistemology, as manifested through her analyses of normativity and “frames,” to argue that the latter acts as the hinge uniting her so-called early and later works and the ethical and political dimensions of her thinking. From this premise, I maintain that Butler affirms that these frames are conditioned by power relations and contingency, points to the existence of multiple frameworks that simultaneously compete against one another, and insists that frames are culturally specific and determining of the categories that identify what counts as a legitimate life for a particular community and the ways in which each life is to be treated. By highlighting the social, performative, and normative dimensions of epistemic practices, Butler offers an epistemology based in the construction of contingent and contestable frameworks and shows how the contestation between distinct frameworks conditions the ethical-political life of each community.
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DOI 10.1080/14409917.2022.2081410
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