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Species Trouble: Judith Butler, Mourning, and the Precarious Lives of Animals


  • James Stanescu


This article utilizes the work of Judith Butler in order to chart a queer and feminist animal studies, an animal studies that celebrates our shared embodied finitude. Butler's commentary on other animals remains dispersed and fragmented throughout books, lectures, and interviews over the course of the last several years. This work is critically synthesized in conjunction with her work on mourning and precarious lives. By developing an anti-anthropocentric understanding of mourning and precarious lives, this article hopes to create ontological, ethical, and political concepts that resist the violence of the present. In so doing, the article contrasts Butler's understanding of precarious life with Giorgio Agamben's understanding of bare life in order to conceive of precariousness as constitutive of social reality. This intellectual labor lays the groundwork for understanding mourning the lives of other animals as a political act that produces new communities, rather than as an individuating and isolating emotion.