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.

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Nausea in Paris

Telos Press looks forward to publishing Democratic Contradictions of Multiculturalism by Jens-Martin Erikson and Frederik Stjernfelt, scheduled to appear in March 2012.

It is with an increasing feeling of sickness that I follow the incidents around the Parisian weekly Charlie Hebdo and its special issue on sharia prompted by the political developments in Libya and Tunisia.

Early in the morning of November 2nd, a window was broken and a Molotov cocktail thrown into the premises of the weekly which burned out. By sheer luck, nobody was hurt. In the expectedly strong reactions against this attack on free speech, disturbing voices and events intervene. Initially, the asylum offered to the publishers by the daily Libération constituted an encouraging event—one voice supporting the other against threats to free speech.

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