Mourning, Solidarity and “Transversal Grief”: How Judith Butler Misreads Paris

Traveling in Paris, Judith Butler published a “letter” dated November 14, in English on the Verso blog and in French in Libération, the day after the ISIS attacks, entitled “Mourning becomes the Law.” The short text treats two phenomena and argues for a connection between them: the process of mourning the victims of the attacks and the expansion of counter-terrorist practices by the state. Butler’s thesis is that the shared grieving of the dead served exclusively as a vehicle to justify amplified police powers: in this sense, mourning becomes the law, or at least law enforcement. A close look at her claims, however, shows significant deficiencies in the account of mourning and an important misreading of the Parisian response.

Continue reading →