“It is time for social movements to coalesce to form a strong movement, with very clear ideas on equality, economy, freedom, justice. This means having ideals and platforms away from party politics. Only then, a social movement reaches a position to negotiate.”
Since the publication of Gender Trouble (1990), one of the founding texts of the queer theory, the reflections by Judith Butler – lecturer at the Department of Comparative Literature and Critical Theory Program at the University of California, Berkeley and the European Graduate School / EGS – has provoked a broad debate involving both feminism and, in general, critical theory, making her one of the most influential intellectuals in the contemporary international scene.
Moving between philosophy, psychoanalysis and literature, Butler has intervened in some of the major events that have shaken the global present, from September 11th to the Arab Springs.
Among her most recent publications, Senses of the Subject (New York, 2015) and Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (Harvard, 2015, translated into Italian under the title The alliance of bodies, Nottetempo, 2017).
The philosopher visited Bologna, in Italy, to promote the international conference “The critical tasks of the University ” and to attend the Summer School “Sovereignty and Social Movements”, organized by the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory (Duke University, University of Virginia, University of Bologna), until July 7th.
We met with her for a few questions.
How do you think the critical role of universities, and their opposition to Trump’s deportation policies, will be affected by his State’s reorganization plans and the increasingly arbitrary action by police?
It is very important that the universities declare their status as “sanctuaries”. It sends a strong message to the federal government. Trump’s program is not very effective yet, but immigration officials can act more aggressively autonomously, because there is no clear federal policy. The president says one thing, the courts go in another direction, so officials decide to go, on a discretionary basis, to schools or homes looking for illegal immigrants.
The universities, however, may decide to hand over the names of those who have no documents or resist the officers’ requests. They have the power to block the implementation of deportation plans and this means that we can become part of a larger network that resists the application of federal policies.