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Unchosen Cohabitation of Hannah Arendt and Precarity Politics of Judith Butler: Based on Body Politic and Ethical Obligation

  • Cross-Cultural Studies
  • 2017, 48(), pp.361-389
  • DOI : 10.21049/ccs.2017.48..361
  • Publisher : Center for Cross Culture Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Literature
  • Received : August 10, 2017
  • Accepted : September 1, 2017
  • Published : September 30, 2017

Cho Scarlet Hyun June 1

1경희대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This essay examines ‘precarity politics’ by Judith Butler, a well-known gender theorist and queer philosopher, in Notes Towards a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015) focused on concepts as unchosen cohabitation of Hannah Arendt and unwilled proximity of Emmanuel Levinas. Butler’s precarity politics is the condition of our dispossessed political beings with fundamental vulnerability and interdependency that cannot choose with whom we will live on this Earth. Butler’s political ethics is twofold: on one hand, she examines significance of ‘action’' the most significant vita activa in the public area, and ‘plurality’' the condition—not only the necessary condition but the possible condition—for a political life suggested by Hannah Arendt in Human Condition; on the other hand, Butler reflects upon global precarity based on a diasporic precarious life in the social world towards freedom and equality. Unchosen cohabitation of plural humans on Earth, and global pervasion of precarity, that indicates “politically induced condition in which certain populations suffer from failing social and economic networks of support and become differentially exposed to injury, violence, and death,” so called “differential distribution of precariousness,” are practical possibilities of ethical and equal cohabitation of different ethnic groups in the social world. Ethical obligations or ethical demand to respond to others’ suffering in distance and proximity originated from precarity politics, mentioned in Precarious Life, Parting Ways, and Frames of War, could be non-foundational joint of plural people living together globally. We should presume the ‘reversibility’ of distance and proximity in others’ suffering, based on responsiveness and responsibility of others, if we want to stay attuned to the pain of others we never chose to live together. That is the significance of Butler’s ‘precarity politics’ with ‘ethical obligation’ to accept ‘unchosen plurality’ of living population on Earth, and ‘reversibility between of distance and proximity,’ in her ‘new plural and embodied body politics’ or ‘new corporeal ontology’, through human primary vulnerability, fundamental interdependency, being exposed and responsive to suffering of others.

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