Bodily Citations

Bodily Citations: Religion and Judith Butler

Ellen T. Armour
Susan M. St. Ville
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/armo13406
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  • Book Info
    Bodily Citations
    Book Description:

    In such works as Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter Judith Butler broke new ground in understanding the construction and performance of identities. While Butler's writings have been crucial and often controversial in the development of feminist and queer theory, Bodily Citations is the first anthology centered on applying her theories to religion. In this collection scholars in anthropology, biblical studies, theology, ethics, and ritual studies use Butler's work to investigate a variety of topics in biblical, Islamic, Buddhist, and Christian traditions. The authors shed new light on Butler's ideas and highlight their ethical and political import. They also broaden the scope of religious studies as they bring it into conversation with feminist and queer theory.

    Subjects discussed include the woman's mosque movement in Cairo, the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the possibility of queer ethics, religious ritual, and biblical constructions of sexuality.

    Contributors include: Karen Trimble Alliaume, Lewis University; Teresa Hornsby, Drury University; Amy Hollywood, Harvard Divinity School; Christina Hutchins, Pacific School of Religion; Saba Mahmood, University of California, Berkeley; Susanne Mrozik, Mount Holyoke College; Claudia Schippert, University of Central Florida; Rebecca Schneider, Brown University; Ken Stone, Chicago Theological Seminary

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50864-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    Our prefatory account of Butler’s work has begun to indicate, we trust, its rich and varied potential as a resource for scholars of religion. Indeed, the essays gathered here reflect in their complexity the many directions this intersection can take. Multiple themes run through and overlap in these pieces. For heuristic purposes we have grouped these essays into three sections representing the main topics of textual interpretation, agency and religious subjectivity, and prospective theoretical directions. The essays, however, refract each other in varied ways and so, in Butlerian fashion, could be grouped and regrouped to provoke still further avenues of...

  5. JUDITH BUTLER— IN THEORY
    (pp. 1-12)
    ELLEN T. ARMOUR and SUSAN M. ST. VILLE

    Can or should “women” be the subject of feminism? This is the question that launches Judith Butler’s landmark text, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990). In asking and answering it, Butler refracted a decade of debate within feminist theory over its proper subject. Critiques from women of color, postcolonial theorists, and lesbian and gay theorists had exposed the limitations of feminism’s subject. The “woman” on whose behalf theorists theorized and activists organized was bounded in ways that excluded many of those whom feminism claimed to support. Questions about feminism’s proper subject were exacerbated by the influx of...

  6. TEXTUAL BODIES
    • 1. MATERIALIZATIONS OF VIRTUE: Buddhist Discourses on Bodies
      (pp. 15-47)
      SUSANNE MROZIK

      In Bodies That Matter Judith Butler investigates the regulatory practices that both produce and destabilize normative heterosexuality. I draw on Butler’s work to explicate and contest normative representations of body ideals in premodern South Asian Buddhist literature. Butler argues that sex, like gender, is socially constructed. In place of a concept of construction, however, she proposes that of materialization, because concepts of construction leave untheorized the materiality of sex.¹ Sexed bodies are materialized through the compulsory performance of gender norms that train, shape, and form the very contours of a person’s body (BTM, pp. 54, 17). “Gender norms,” Butler maintains,...

    • 2. THE GARDEN OF EDEN AND THE HETEROSEXUAL CONTRACT
      (pp. 48-70)
      KEN STONE

      In her lectures on Antigone, Judith Butler demonstrates the potential value of rereading ancient texts as part of the project of interrogating structures of kinship and gender.¹ For a reader such as myself—a self-identified “gay man” engaged professionally in biblical interpretation—such a project can hardly fail to stimulate one’s own interpretive practice. For among the ancient myths implicated today in public debates over kinship and gender, surely none are more often cited than those found in the Bible.

      When gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals do turn to the Bible, however, they all too often focus on a handful...

    • 3. THE ANNOYING WOMAN: Biblical Scholarship After Judith Butler
      (pp. 71-90)
      TERESA J. HORNSBY

      Judith butler rules. Her assertions about gender, complex and clear, are born out in daily (as well as nightly) observations of human relationships. Just as Copernicus’s interpretations of stellar relationships prompted dread, fear, and imagination, so Butler’s insights into the gendered nature of power. Her readers are awed by her intellect yet dread her exposure of a big and ugly truth: regardless of (and because of) subversion, an androcentric dominant culture, or patriarchy, is sustained, reified, and empowered. Butler tells us that protests, queerness, or anything deemed “countercultural” may do nothing toward weakening a dominant culture but, just like the...

  7. EMBODYING IDENTITIES
    • 4. DISTURBINGLY CATHOLIC: Thinking the Inordinate Body
      (pp. 93-119)
      KAREN TRIMBLE ALLIAUME

      For catholic women gender matters theologically. It matters most peculiarly when it comes to the question of ordination to the priesthood, which, for Catholics obedient to the Church’s official teaching, has been “definitively” answered: “Women are not to be admitted to ordination.”¹ The silence enjoined by the Church on this matter is constituted less by the absence of speech than by the inarticulability of bodies: to understand why Catholic women may not, according to Church teaching, be ordained, we must understand how and why gender comes to matter in the theology promulgated by the Catholic magisterium² and in dissenting theologies...

    • 5. UNCONFORMING BECOMINGS: The Significance of Whitehead’s Novelty and Butler’s Subversion for the Repetitions of Lesbian Identity and the Expansion of the Future
      (pp. 120-156)
      CHRISTINA K. HUTCHINS

      At the turn of the millennium in the United States many Christian churches are theologically positioning themselves in relation to, or reaction against, various considerations of lesbian and gay lives in social and religious institutions. The wrenching emotional and ecclesial turmoil characterizing the debates suggests that far more than academic abstractions are at stake in the shiftings of cultural concepts of identity and the relational construction of the subject. Drawing on theoretical interactions of process and deconstructive postmodernisms, this chapter points to the importance of understanding identities as processes of becoming that can open novel possibilities for the future of...

    • 6. TURNING ON/TO ETHICS
      (pp. 157-176)
      CLAUDIA SCHIPPERT

      When engaging judith Butler’s work from the perspective of feminist ethics in religion, it seems that one cannot avoid the tension illustrated by the two epigraphs that introduce this essay. Christian feminist ethicist Rudy’s evaluation of queer theory as offering “little insight for ethics” corresponds with perceptions of Butler’s work as paradigmatic of the poststructuralist and queer critique of, and resistance to, identity, materiality, and agency.¹ Indeed, Butler’s claim that both the body’s materiality and the subject are discursively effected through the ritualized repetition of norms has sparked debates about the reality of the material body, social relations, and the...

    • 7. AGENCY, PERFORMATIVITY, AND THE FEMINIST SUBJECT
      (pp. 177-222)
      SABA MAHMOOD

      This essay is born out of a series of analytical and political questions at the heart of the conversation between postcolonial and poststructuralist feminist theory that I inherited as a feminist intellectual and activist who came to political consciousness in the Muslim world during the 1970s. If the postcolonial debate that raged through the 1980s and 1990s put to test the horizon of nationalist politics and the presumptive divide between North-South and/or East-West, then poststructuralist feminism made many in my generation face the problematic ways in which we were tied to the liberal tradition, to its epistemological and political presumptions,...

  8. THEORIZING BODIES
    • 8. “JUDITH BUTLER” IN MY HANDS
      (pp. 225-251)
      REBECCA SCHNEIDER

      “Judith butler,” like most of us who write, gives titles to her works. This is handy. Titles allow us to cite others and to cite ourselves. The title of an essay Butler published in Qui Parle in 1997 is “‘How Can I Deny That These Hands and This Body Are Mine?’” To cite her title, I have to indicate that her title is itself a citation by encasing it in the proper layering of grammatical indicators. Butler’s title cites Descartes. The original question about denial belongs, it seems, to him, as he did not indicate otherwise. And Butler lets us...

    • 9. PERFORMATIVITY, CITATIONALITY, RITUALIZATION
      (pp. 252-275)
      AMY HOLLYWOOD

      In Bodies That Matter Judith Butler responds to her critics, those for whom Gender Trouble’s account of performative subjectivity threatens to dissolve the gendered subject into language and/or marks a return of liberal humanist conceptions of a voluntarist self who freely chooses her or his identity.¹ These critiques are contradictory in ways symptomatic of central theoretical dualisms Butler continually deconstructs in her work.² Characteristically, her response to her critics takes the form of an interrogation of the concept of materiality to which many of them appeal and an articulation of the extremely complex relationships between the “materiality of the body”...

  9. AFTERWORD
    (pp. 276-292)
    JUDITH BUTLER

    I am pleased for this opportunity to respond in general terms to these very provocative papers and to try, within reason, to explain something of my intellectual relation to religion. I fear that I cannot possibly do either of these very well, so I will offer some fragments of understanding and hope that they address the concerns and challenges raised by these very probing and challenging papers.

    Most of the papers collected here respond to my work prior to the publication of Precarious Life: Powers of Mourning and Violence and the recent articles I have written regarding contemporary politics, Jewish...

  10. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 293-296)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 297-298)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 299-311)