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Vulnerability and the Politics of CareTransdisciplinary Dialogues$
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Victoria Browne, Jason Danely, and Doerthe Rosenow

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266830

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266830.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 21 May 2022

Bodies that Still Matter

Bodies that Still Matter

(p.33) 1 Bodies that Still Matter*
Vulnerability and the Politics of Care

Judith Butler

British Academy

This chapter starts with an obvious presupposition: no body can sustain itself on its own. The body is not a self-subsisting kind of being; it is, rather, given over to others in order to persist. What does it mean to be “given over” to others, and to have this as a constitutive feature of embodied life? It may be that we require care, or that we are vulnerable in a way that cannot be overcome. How do these two terms work in relation to embodied lives that encounter unlivable situations as a result of unaddressed exposure or infrastructural failures of care? The bodies that assemble to object to unlivable conditions make certain kinds of demands. How do we understand the form and aim of such demands on the part of bodies that require support, address, and conditions for persistence? This chapter seeks to show that the kind of claim bodies make on politics follows from the radical lack of self-sufficiency that characterizes bodies more generally. The lack of self-sufficiency is not a political problem, but politics emerges precisely when the social organization of what Marx called “basic requirements” consistently fail and “basic requirements” begin to make their claim on the broader social and political world.

Keywords:   body, embodied life, care, vulnerability, politics, social world, persistence

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