Surveillance Sousveillance and Coveillance Discussion Paper

Please read, download this document and use this format to compile your notes of each assigned reading. This exercise is intended to build scholarly reading comprehension. Answer each question in your own words.  * For tips on using this worksheet efficiently, schedule time with the professor during office hours.

Background Context

1)Title of Text:

2)Date of Publication:

3)Author’s Name:

4)Disciplinary Background of Author (Google the author. Explain the author’s scholarly specialization & qualifications to be considered an expert on this topic.):

Content Questions

5)Quote the main thesis of the text (The main argument will be a one or two sentence passage stating the main argument of the reading):

6)Explain the main thesis in your own words (be comprehensive, but brief):

7)Briefly explain 3 major arguments, ideas, concepts, or theories that are used to build up to the main thesis:

8)Briefly explain 2 of the most significant areas of study, scholars, authors, intellectuals, contemporary or historical events, etc, that the author relies on to build the thesis:

9)Define the 3 most important KEY TERMS and explain what the author means by them:

10) Quote a passage from the text that is significant to you – explain how it connects to the thesis and why it stands out to you:

Chapter 27
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Judith Butler
SUBVERSIVE BODILY ACTS
EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION
I
N THIS SELECTION from her important book Gender Trouble: Feminism and
the Subversion of Identity, Judith Butler makes a strong case for refusing to
think of the body as the ground of identity. Traditional concepts of gender assume
that (barring a few exceptions) human beings come into the world with one of
two kinds of body: a male body Or a female one. This distinction is, of course,
classically categorized around the presence or absence of a penis. But Butler
asks: aren’t bodies already inscribed by history and culture? And because they
are, she contends that they cannot be conceived as a natural ground for cultural
difference.
Having established to her own satisfaction that the body is culturally inscribed,
Butler goes on to offer some concrete examples of such inscriptions. She argues,
first, that we (in the West?) inscribe or imagine the body as a discrete, tightly
bordered thing, and that this has consequences for the kinds of sex acts that are
deemed normal, proper, legal. Sex acts like anal sex which involve entries into
the body where it is not supposed to be permeable become outlawed. She further
argues (following Foucault) that in the difficult perhaps impossible effort to live in
the body in these terms, the ‘soul’ becomes imagined as an emblem of coherence,
that is possessing the features absent from messy actual bodies. Soul5, then, are
inscribed on bodies too, if only as lack.
It’s the failure of the body to be whole and enduring that leads to the soul
being imagined in terms which make it the prison of the body: for Butler the soul
is that which prevents the permeability and instability of the body from being
realized. It’s a barrier to freedom. She argues that gender too concerns the soul,
since it too is a product of a desire for integrity, inscribed on a body but also
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372
JUDITH BUTLER
more ideal or transcendent than the body. And as such it needs to be continually
performed: gender is a ‘corporeal style’. But as a performed style, gender is open
to parody and improvisation in modes which undo the dominant ways of perceiving
male/female difference and the regime of compulsory heterosexuality within which
men and women live and have sex together. At this point parodying and mimicking
corporeal styles (drag) becomes an act of sexual liberation.
Further reading: Adams and Savran 2002; Bordo 2000; Butler 1993; Faludi
1999; Smith 1992; Solomon-Godeau 1999.
Bodily inscriptions, performative subversions
“Garbo ‘got in drag’ whenever she took some heavy glamour part, whenever
she melted in or out of a man’s arms, whenever she simply let that heavenlyflexed neck … bear the weight of her thrown-back head …. How resplendent
seems the art of acting! It is all impersonation, whether the sex underneath is
true or not. ” –
Parker Tyler, “The Garbo Image,” quoted.in Esther Newton, Mother Camp
Categories of true sex, discrete gender, and specific sexuality have constituted the
stable point of reference for a great deal of feminist theory and politics. These
constructs of identity serve as the points of epistemic departure from which
theory emerges and politics it,elf is shaped. In the case of feminism, politics Is
ostensibly shaped to express the interests, the perspectives, of “women.” But Is
there a political shape to “women,” as it were, that precedes and prefigures the
political elaboration of their interests and epistemic point of view? How is that
identity shaped, and is it a political shaping that takes the very morphology and
boundary of the sexed body as the ground, surface, or site of cultural inscription?
What circumscribes that site as “the female body”? Is “the body” or “the sexed
body” the firm foundation on which gender and systems of compulsory sexuality
operate? Or is “the body” itself shaped by political forces with strategic interests
in keeping that body bounded and constituted by the markers of sex?
The se:x/gender distinction and the category of sex itself appear to presuppose
a generalization of “the body” that preexists the acquisition of its sexed
significance. This “body” often app~ars to be a passive medium that j” signified
by an inscription from a cultural source figured as “external” to that body. Any
theory of the culturally constructed body; however, ought to question “the body”
as a construct of suspect generality when it is figured as passive and prior to
diS to a strUduralist tlistinctjon betweell .m
inlwI’cntlv
, unrulY, nature rtnd .m nnJI,:r iml)()scd hy. culturrtl means, the ~’untidinl’~:-”’
to which .”he refers e.HI 1)(‘ I”t’descrilwd as
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l”cgJOIl
or (·uJwful unrulines:; .md
disorder. As.suming the iHt’yitahk hillary structure of th(‘ l1ature/culture tli:-.til1ction,
Dougl do not assimilate it, u.r 1 expel it. But since the food
is not an “oth(‘r” for “me,” who am only in their desire, 1 expel mp;e,If, I spit
myse!f out) ] abject ID’yse!fvvithin the same motion through which U’I” daim to
establish myself.
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lbe boundary of the body as well as the distinction between internal and
external is established through the ejection and transvaluation of something originally
part of identity into a deliling otherness. As Iris Young has suggested in her usc of
Kriste”a to understand sexism, homophohia, and racism, the repudiation of bodies
for their sex, sexuality. and/or color is an “expulsion~~ followed by a “repulsion”
that founds and wnsoltdates culturally hegemonic identities along sex/race/sexuality
axes of diflerentiation. Young’s appropriation of Kriste”a shows how the operation
of repulsion can consolidate “identities” founded on the instituting of the
“Other” or a set of Others through exclusion and domination. \Vhat constitutes
through division the “inner” and “outer” worlds of the subject is a border and
boundary tenuously maintained for the purposes of social regulation and control.
The houndary between the inner and outer is confounded by those excremental
passages in which the inner effectively becomes outer, and this excreting function
becomes, as it were, the model by, which other forms of identity-differentiation
,
are accomplished. In effect, this is the mode by which Others become shit. ror
inner and outer worlds to remain utterly distinct, the entire surface of the body
would have to achieve an impossible impermeability. This sealing of its surfaces
would constitute the seamless boundary of the subject; but this enclosure would
invariably be exploded by precisely that excremental filth that it fears.
Regardless of the compelling metaphors of the spatial distinctions of inner and
outer, they remain linguistiC’ terms that fadJitate and articulate a set of fantasie.”>,
feared and desired, Hlnner1 ? and “outer” make sense only v.ith reference to a
mediating boundary tbat strives for stability. And this stability, this coherenC1.’, is
determined in large part by cultural orders that sanction the suhject and compel
it~ differentiation from the abit~t. Hence, “inner” and Houter!! constitute a binary
distinction that stabilizes and consolidates the coherent suhjec\. \Vh”n that subject
is challenged, the meaning and necessity of the terms arc suhject to displacement.
If the “inner world” no longer designates a topos, then the intcrnailixity of the self
and, inJecd, the internal locale of gender identit); become similarly suspect. Th,’
critical quc:ition is not how did that id(‘ntity bc(‘Omt> irHernalizeJl as if internalization
wen’ a proCl.~ss or a mechanism that might be descriptively Tcconstructc

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