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4.0 out of 5 stars Dispossesion (PCVS-Polity Conversation Series)
Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou's Dispossession: The Performative in the Political etc- is a discourse on the timeless arguements surrounding the political and historical patterns which have structured western societies.Dispossession takes an academic feminist perspective and looks at where we have come from and where we are heading as conflicting groups within...
Published 5 months ago by Arthur Dooley

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dense but rewarding in places
This is a dense book that perhaps should be approached as a 'stream of consciousness' perhaps more than anything else, as Athena Athanasiou discusses with Judith Butler a further development of Left politics with particular regard to feminist and queer issues.

The discussion is very 'european' in manner as would be expected, often meandering and ill-focussed...
Published 8 months ago by Zip Domingo


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dense but rewarding in places, 2 Aug 2013
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Zip Domingo (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series) (Paperback)
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This is a dense book that perhaps should be approached as a 'stream of consciousness' perhaps more than anything else, as Athena Athanasiou discusses with Judith Butler a further development of Left politics with particular regard to feminist and queer issues.

The discussion is very 'european' in manner as would be expected, often meandering and ill-focussed but at other times deeply rich in thought and enquiry. As with such transcripts you have to take the rough with the smooth- it reminded me at times of Zizek at his most obtuse and meandering- but there is some good, sound thought in here worth digging for although you may well have to be prepared for much of it to wash over you in order to have them revealed to you. A worthy discussion, but perhaps a little more clarity would have been useful to get the thinking across....whatever, ideal for those who want to sit down with a complex analysis of Leftist thought and where it could go in the next few years.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dispossesion (PCVS-Polity Conversation Series), 20 Nov 2013
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Arthur Dooley (N Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series) (Paperback)
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Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou's Dispossession: The Performative in the Political etc- is a discourse on the timeless arguements surrounding the political and historical patterns which have structured western societies.Dispossession takes an academic feminist perspective and looks at where we have come from and where we are heading as conflicting groups within society battle it out to be heard and impact on the status quo. Not an easy read and rambling at times but fascinating nevertheless.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's complicated..., 16 Jan 2014
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Amazon Customer "maria2222" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series) (Paperback)
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The subject of this discussion, dispossession in some of its forms relating to e.g. property, feminism, citizenship and lost land, is important and interesting, but the manner in which it is dealt with for most of this exchange is at times so dense and unengaging that I completely lost interest in trying to dig through the overly complicated (particularly from AA) arguments to find the real ideas and meaning behind the words.

There are many interesting bits in there, but not enough that I would recommend it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightened discussion about dispossession, 22 Sep 2013
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Mr. A. C. Thorne (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series) (Paperback)
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This is an excellent book, but really only for those already quite well versed in the subject, or as in my cases somebody involved in education and thereefore used to some of the 'interesting' terminology and academic language evidenced. The subject is so important at this time and I would acknowledge that there is a need for discourse at all levels and this text is therefore well placed for those who have an interest at the academic level, however it is in my opinion very definitely not for a lay reader. Nonetheless I found the authors discussion highly stimulating and would reccommend it for those with a specialised interest in the subject matter.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A book for whom?, 12 Sep 2013
By 
Laura T (Cambridge, U.K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series) (Paperback)
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This book has a number of things going for it. The central subject - dispossession - is well worth exploring. Many of the discussions highlight the complexity of the matters dealt with (the first two chapters especially). There was a pleasing unwillingness to opt for easy answers, but rather to highlight what it is important to think about. The discussion format, sometimes at least, helps to clarify the ideas of both contributors; although, for my part, I found Judith Butler's attempts to clarify and elaborate on Athena Athanasiou's comments much more illuminating than vice versa. The book seemed to me to be a book of tangents, some of them stimulating (the discussion of recognition in the seventh chapter, for instance). However, there is a lot to distract the reader from this book's virtues. Among the interesting gems there are a lot of, it seemed to me, not especially interesting detours from the key topics. What made wading through this material harder was the style in which it is delivered. Unless a lot went over my head, many relatively straightforward points are considerably overcomplicated. This was a much more difficult read than it needed to be.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment, however, was that while a lot of the ideas raised were important and interesting, many are extremely familiar. There is not a great deal of expansion on what has been thought and written elsewhere. This left me wondering who exactly this book is for. For the aforementioned reason, I don't think it will be of much use for those who already share the political convictions of Butler and Athanasiou (beyond reinforcing ideas already held). I certainly don't see any critics of their approach (neo-liberals etc.) being swayed by it; that clearly isn't Butler and Athanasiou's intention. And, since this is a read which requires a fair amount of background knowledge and suffers from overcomplication, I wouldn't recommend it as a way into these issues to potentially sympathetic readers who haven't thought about them much before. So, despite some interesting moments in the discussion, and despite the importance of many of the issues considered, I was disappointed with this book.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not suitable for the general reader, 31 Aug 2013
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Ms. C. R. Stillman-lowe "Cathy SL" (Reading Berks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series) (Paperback)
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JB is a wellknown feminist writer and Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at Berkeley and AA is Associate Professor in Social Anthropology in Athens. Dispossesion is the condition of those who have lost land, citizenship, property and a broader belonging in the world through forced migration, homelessness, foreclosures and disparity of wealth. Like some previous polity publications the format consists in a dialogue between the two authors, which has advantages and disadvantages. What is a more significant disadvantage however, and for some perhaps insuperable, is that like some current philosophy it is conducted in a language that is private to the discipline and wellnigh inpenetrable to those not versed in it. So the general reader should be warned.

Rating 3 out of 5
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What A Performance!!, 27 July 2013
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Neutral "Phil" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series) (Paperback)
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According to Athena Athanasiou her conversation with Judith Butler was 'on politics, theory, embodiment and new formations of left politics, focused at first on questions of how older left politics might respond to newer feminist and queer concerns with resisting precarity'. This self-indulgent parody of reason leads one to the conclusion it is little more than an example of intellectual onanism representative of the 'Intellectual Impostures' and 'Fashionable Nonsense'. referred to by Sokal and Bricmont. In concentrating on the irrelevant relationships between masculinism, technology and the human, Athanasiou wanders aimlessly into post-human, post-Lacanian, post-colonialist, post-structuralist theory to the extent she should be working for Royal Mail !! The alleged 'queer deconstruction and feminist modes of performative politics' supports a mythical construction known as biopolitics fashioned in the minds of those too afraid to face the reality that constitutes life. They claim they wish to 'become dispossessed of the sovereign self and enter into forms of collectivity that oppose forms of dispossession that systematically jettison populations from modes of collective belonging and justice'. By doing so Butler and Athanasiou dispossess their minds of any semblance of intelligence, debasing the concept of critical thought and drowning it in the mire of Left wing politics.

As befits the intellectual schizophrenia of the Left the book has a variety of not always related themes. Dispossession is discussed as an intellectual subject between the two participants (neither of whom can be described as dispossessed in any meaningful sense of the word) but much of the content is focused on Butler's theories of performativity while references to the concrete reality of life as it is lived by the plebs are few and mostly inaccurate. For example, Butler refers to 'riots in the UK' which empirically were not caused by dispossession or 'the poverty and unemployment among those who were looting' but by human selfishness, including acts of theft by economically well-off people. The authors seem to believe they are discussing the subject in esoteric form. However, statements such as 'dispossession signifies an inaugural submission of the subject-to-be to norms of intelligibility, a submission which, in its paradoxical simultaneity with mastery, constitutes the ambivalent and tenuous process of subjection' is not esoteric, it's gibberish. Neither is it original. Butler and Athanasiou are seeking to re-phrase the Marxist concept of alienation in 'magic' language to massage their egos. They seem not to understand that Marx's alienation was a secular re-statement of Protestant theology.

Of course, the authors are advancing what is known as 'critical theory' and the sociological idea of symbolic interaction which defines reality as social interaction with others and suggests humans have a physical reality, a social reality and a unique reality. However, this highly individualistic idea runs counter to empirical reality. In essence they are trying to re-define objective, empirical, reality in theoretical terms as a framework for the pursuit of collectivist aims. When they seek to translate the abstract into the concrete the unreality of their position becomes apparent. Their identification of 'capitalism' is one which depends on identifying historical situations as being validated by their own inadequate explanation of reality. Their ideological perspective is littered with subjective terms such as 'slavery, colonialisation, apartheid, capitalist alienation, immigration and asylum politics, post-colonial liberal multiculturalism, gender and sexual normativity, securitarian governmentality and humanitarian reason', none of which are referred to in context, nor appraised by historical analysis and bear no relationship to facts. Butler's case is no more than life is a gigantic conspiracy in which humans are governed by unseen forces controlled by powerful humans in their own interest. At times she makes David Icke seem sane.

Butler and Athanasiou do not engage with reality but through political perspectives associated with the Left. Protest movements are not the embodiment of ideals but attempts to find social expression in the absence of political power. Athanasiou's street protests mean 'the body becomes a turbulent performative occasion, one that both constrains and enables action qua embodied situatedness and extension'. Then again, perhaps people just don't like what is happening. However, most movements fail because of the human tendency to collectivise only in its own interest. The authors were writing in support of SYRIZA the Greek (Coalition of the Radical Left) which is already showing signs of collectivist control of the various groups associated with it. Stalin was not an aberration from truth but the fulfillment of the very thing the authors are afraid to admit - that human contributions to the state of the world cannot be explained by theory alone. In practice, the post-human idea that an advanced human species may move to a higher plane of existence is a re-write of the 'Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers'.

Feminist theory has long since been discredited as a meaningful way of interpreting the world. The notion that the female 'becomes' a woman has been re-written over the past seventy years. Applying feminism as a social theory is as useful as using a chocolate fireguard. The world has changed in many respects and feminism as an explanation of world reality, devoid of context, is reactionary rather than out-dated. It's more of a trope than a theory. The human female's gamete has 100,000 volume than that of the male. One is left with the impression that this is reasonable representation of the authors' egos in relation to reality. The current unrest in Cairo is not susceptible to explanation in theoretical terms of performativity but in terms real power, competition between ideas and political visions of the world. No doubt feminist academics will praise this abstract nonsense but for real people living in the real world it will be as attractive as a cold shower. Gender and sexuality remain the province of the LGBT minority interest, the rest of us will concentrate on living life as it is, with all its human faults. Three stars.
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