Violence \ Non-Violence: A Conversation

Feminist theory has generally been on the side of non-violence, yet few would contest the idea that self-defense sometimes does require force, if not violence. And yet, there are spurious invocations of self-defense that populate our legal and political world. Are there ethical and political distinctions to be made between aggression, force, and violence? How should we think about the relationship between violence in the world and in the mind? Can we decide any of these matters outside of a critical analysis of discourse and context? Is feminism the framework within which these questions can be usefully pursued? What might be the place of psychoanalysis in this discussion? Theorists Jacqueline Rose and Judith Butler have both written on feminism, psychoanalysis, war, and violence. They continue their ongoing discussion of these matters in this public conversation.

Jacqueline Rose is internationally known for her writing on feminism, psychoanalysis, literature and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her books include Sexuality in the Field of Vision (1986, 2006 Verso Radical Thinkers), The Haunting of Sylvia Plath (1991), States of Fantasy (1996), The Question of Zion (2005), The Last Resistance (2007), Proust Among the Nations – from Dreyfus to the Middle East (2012) and the novel Albertine (2001). Women in Dark Times has just been published in the US by Bloomsbury. Conversations with Jacqueline Rose came out in 2010, and The Jacqueline Rose Reader in 2011. States of Fantasy and The Last Resistance have formed the basis of musical compositions by the acclaimed young American composer, Mohammed Fairouz. A regular writer for The London Review of Books, she wrote and presented the 2002 Channel 4 TV Documentary, Dangerous Liaison – Israel and the United States. She is a co-founder of Independent Jewish Voices in the UK and a Fellow of the British Academy. In January 2015, she joined Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. She previously taught at Queen Mary University of London as Professor of English, and in Autumn 2014, was Diane Middlebrook/Carl Djerassi Professor of Gender Studies in Cambridge.

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and The Program in Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as Founding Director. Her most recent works include Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (2010), Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (with Athena Athanasio, 2013), and Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2013). A collection of her philosophical essays, Senses of the Subject, was published in 2015. Her forthcoming book, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, will be published by Harvard University Press.

Co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities

Photo: Jonathan Ring