Catachresis and Mis-Being in Judith Butler and Étienne Balibar: Contemporary Refigurations of the Human as a Face Drawn in the Sand

Catachresis and Mis-Being in Judith Butler and Étienne Balibar: Contemporary Refigurations of... Abstract The controversy over humanism in the second half of the twentieth century seemed to promote an irreversible abandonment of the concept of the human, famously illustrated by Foucault’s image of the face sketched in the sand at the seashore being erased by the water. In the last two decades, however, a number of philosophers have reassessed and returned to a certain notion of the human all the while incorporating the arguments of the anti-humanist and anti-anthropocentric critiques. Judith Butler and Étienne Balibar are among them. The aim of this article is to explore and compare the particular tropes that both put into play to refigure the human (namely, catachresis in Butler and mis-being in Balibar), and to show how, in light of these tropes, a different reading of Foucault’s metaphor emerges; one in which the human is understood as a continuous and tensional process of doing and undoing, of drawing and erasing lines in the sand. i. introduction In the profusely quoted last lines of The Order of Things, Michel Foucault wagered that the notion of the human would soon be erased like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea.1 This prediction has often been understood as a celebratory and definitive death sentence, a precursor to what ended up being called the ‘death of the human’ or the ‘death of the subject’.2 According to this interpretation, the category of the human would disappear to be replaced by other categories such as the post-human. In a certain sense, if we look around it seems like this is the case—the frontiers between humans, machines, and animals have become very blurry if not dissolved completely. However, Foucault’s claim might not be so linear.3 If we stop for a second on the seashore, we realise that the experience of drawing figures in the sand is much less tragic than death; it is rather playful. If we decide to doodle near the water, we know that the sea will wipe away our figures forever, but this is part of the game. We are actually allowed to keep playing precisely because we are invited to draw again, and again. I suggest reading Foucault’s image in this sense: it means not so much that the category of the human will or should be relegated forever, but that the human is constituted precariously and provisionally in a perpetual oscillatory movement; a movement of weaving and unweaving, drawing and erasing, constructing and deconstructing. I am suggesting, therefore, a consideration of the creative-destructive movement, rather than an exclusive focus on the destructive pole, in order to understand that destruction is just the prior moment to a further construction. It is important to note that, in this schema, deconstruction and construction are not two evolutionary moments, but two entwined processes without an absolute beginning or an absolute end. In order to show how this undulatory movement between neutralisation and creation works, I am going to consider the anthropologies of two contemporary philosophers: Judith Butler and Étienne Balibar. While they draw from the anti-humanist approach and its deconstructive task, they also complement it with a constructive proposal. As we will see, what these authors render manifest is that the category of the human is like a rope that is sustained not in spite of, but thanks, to the tension between these two extremes of drawing and erasing. This will become manifest through the exploration of the two concrete tropes that Butler and Balibar put into play to shape their own conception of the human: catachresis and mis-being,4 respectively. What these figures have in common is, to start with, the acknowledgement of a necessary failure, the recognition that, in references to the human, the term is always misused; the human is never fully human but mis-human. This paradoxical ontological condition, far from being purely adverse, guarantees that no fixed essence will dictate once and for all what it means to be human, and, simultaneously, taking distance from the abjuration of the initial anti-humanist approach, it safeguards a notion of the human that, even if improper, is capable of identifying and fighting the inhumane. Before engaging in a detailed explanation of the tropes of catachresis and mis-being, I will, in the following section, situate Butler’s and Balibar’s retrieval of the human in relation to what has been called the controversy about humanism,5 and then briefly expound how the secondary literature has reacted to what some have called ‘Butler’s new humanism’6 and to Balibar’s proposal of a philosophical anthropology. This will not only make explicit what is at stake in the debates that problematised and continue to problematise the notion of the human, but will also clarify the originality and value of Butler’s and Balibar’s positions and outline their connection. In particular, my contention is that they both, in their own specific way, put forward a minimum anthropology able to overcome the limitations of the essentialist/anti-essentialist—as well as the naturalist/constructivist—theoretical framework, one that grounds and permits the formulation of ethical-political commitments and normative principles. ii. the controversy about humanism Anti-humanism proliferated in French philosophy and—somewhat paradoxically—in the human sciences during the second half of the twentieth century. It took shape through a number of debates in different geographical and theoretical scenes. In order to specify the parameters of this problematisation of the human, I will succinctly outline a map of these debates and scenes before situating Butler’s and Balibar’s work in relation to them. The genealogy of anti-humanism can be traced back to what Paul Ricoeur called the ‘masters of suspicion’:7 Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. These thinkers, albeit from very different backgrounds and angles, have in common their questioning of the Cartesian subject as a metaphysical ground and of its alleged substantiality, self-sufficiency, transparency, and autonomy. As well as these first predecessors, another fundamental precedent of anti-humanism is Martin Heidegger’s critique of anthropocentrism, which intended to radicalise the destitution of the subject as a foundation. Heidegger’s quarrel with humanism was enacted in two famous disputes, first with Ernst Cassirer and later with Jean-Paul Sartre. In the discussion with Cassirer, which took place in Davos in 1929, Heidegger ‘declared that philosophy should return the human being from its obeisance before the idols of humanism to a genuine recognition of its own nothingness as being-in-the-world’.8 By denouncing the false metaphysical foundations upon which the notion of the human and the anthropocentric perspective had been erected—such as reason, spirit, consciousness, and so on—Heidegger aimed to render manifest their true nothingness.9 Twenty years later, in 1946, he further developed his position against anthropocentrism in the Letter on Humanism, written as an implicit corrective to Sartre’s Existentialism is a Humanism and as an explicit response to his colleague Jean Beaufret’s question: ‘how can we restore meaning to the word “humanism”?’.10 When, through these precursors, the anti-humanist polemic reached French territory, it thrived in two different contexts: human sciences and Marxism.11 In the first case, Claude Lévi-Strauss’s structural anthropology, inspired by Ferdinand de Saussure’s subject-less linguistic, paradigmatically dissolved the identity of the subject and of the human in benefit of impersonal structures that were considered to be the efficient cause of this identity. As a consequence, the human in anthropology turned out to be what Lévi-Strauss called an ‘uninvited guest’,12 a dispensable concept. Riding on the same wave, Jacques Lacan transposed the structuralist premises into the realm of psychoanalysis to make it the discipline of an ‘acephalic subject’.13 Given that they deny the existence of a human nature or of a general concept of humanity, and that they, therefore, unmake the positivity of the human that constitutes the object of the human sciences, Foucault considered that Lévi-Strauss’s and Lacan’s disciplines, ethnology and psychoanalysis, were, more than human sciences, ‘counter-sciences’.14 The second French context in which anti-humanism took shape was Louis Althusser’s crusade against humanist Socialism and the humanist readings of Marx. In the course of this debate, Althusser sought to demonstrate that Marx himself embraced, after an early idyll with humanism, a theoretical anti-humanism, defined by the denunciation and rejection of a number of notions as ideological and, thus, as epistemological obstacles: the notions of the human, the individual, the subject, and so on.15 The next generation of this lineage, usually labelled as post-structuralist, and which includes thinkers such as Foucault, Derrida, and Deleuze, synthesised the fundamental tenets of both geographies—the German and the French; of both scenes—the Marxist and the human sciences; and of both anti-humanist principles—the critique of the metaphysical (Heidegger) and of the ideological (Marx-Althusser) weight of the category of the human. The consolidation of anti-humanism in the French intellectual landscape spread the idea that there is no such thing as a human essence or nature and that, therefore, the category of the human is a contingent construction.16 This criticism was intended to be emancipatory and liberating: until that moment, a purported human nature had been dictating how individuals should be and behave and, indeed, ‘human’ had tended to mean male, white, Western, and heterosexual. Revealing the non-existence of a human nature or essence would open the possibility to be and behave otherwise. The interest and attention of these thinkers shifted then from the subject, the human, the individual, or the person to the a-subjective, nonhuman, pre-individual, and impersonal: structures, power relations, discourses, practices, norms, and so on. However, by suppressing the categories of human and subject and by not providing an alternative on that same level, the anti-humanist perspective struggled to account for agency, freedom, responsibility, or justice.17 Even more importantly, it seems that in our contemporary societies the main problem is no longer how to liberate humans from an oppressive human essence or nature, but how to claim humanity for those who are being systematically excluded from the right to be human: masses of refugees waiting in unbearable conditions to be granted asylum, but also gender, ethnic, or religious minorities being discriminated against and oppressed for not qualifying as human. In short, the new problematic seems to be no longer that of breaking free from human-ness, but of building more human-ness by refiguring the human in order to let in those condemned to the margins.18 What is at stake in these circumstances is the need to outline the category of the human in such a way that it is able to provide a common, inclusive ground for those who are being excluded, but without relying on a fixed essence that would impose restrictive practices or norms. This tension, as I will show, crystallises in Butler’s and Balibar’s anthropologies under the form of a disruptive (in)essence—catachresis and mis-being respectively—a failed essence but an essence nonetheless: what defines the human is precisely its inability to define itself, its permanent swinging between figuration and deletion, its vulnerability. Again, instead of taking this failure as the occasion to do without the human, a serious consideration of the process reveals that failure or (in)essence are precisely the essence of the human. All we can do, as Samuel Beckett put it, is try again, fail again, and fail better.19 Althusser already acknowledged the tension inherent to the category of the human and set the coordinates of the problem that Butler and Balibar try to respond to: even if humanism should be opposed to in the theoretical terrain, it nevertheless has a practical function and value that must be preserved.20 The notions of catachresis and mis-being dwell in this problematic field: they do not intend to provide a theoretical ground, nor do they return to a certain ontological essentialism or reify the human; rather, they figure humanity in terms of a disruption of essence, as a tension or failure that nonetheless is ethically and politically efficacious. The secondary literature on Butler’s and Balibar’s work offers different assessments of their explicit engagement with the human. Regarding Butler, some commentators simply identify a ‘new humanism’ in her theory since 2001,21 while others criticise her recent treatment of the human, holding that it contradicts her previous position in at least three different ways: by reintroducing a universal ground in what was supposed to be a post-foundational theory;22 by cancelling the anti-humanist approach;23 and by focusing on the vulnerable and mortal side of humans as opposed to their vitality and natality.24 With reference to Balibar, his recent project of a re-evaluation and recuperation of philosophical anthropology has been echoed, mostly in France, in works such as Bertrand Ogilvie’s La seconde nature du politique, which proposes a negative or improper anthropology,25 and has been discussed and examined as a renewed attempt to resignify concepts that were supposedly extinct in the post-structuralist context, including those of universality and the human.26 My aim is to show how Butler’s and Balibar’s figures of the human take hold both of the anti-humanist criticisms and of the requirements of a normative ethical and political approach; that is, how, to borrow Althusser’s terms, they maintain a theoretical anti-humanism and a practical humanism, and how this tension is what figures and refigures the human. This means that their reclamation of the human is not a purely speculative move, but a gesture forced by practice, in particular by the experience of extreme violence and precarity.27 III. CATACHRESIS IN JUDITH BUTLER Most commentators28 discern in Butler’s intellectual trajectory a point of inflection that takes her from a focus on performativity—the performative character of gender, norms, identities, and so on, paradigmatically represented by Gender Trouble,29 published in 1990—to an interest in the fundamental vulnerability of life, first condensed in the collection of essays Precarious Life, published in 2004. Some have referred to it as an ‘ethical turn’,30 a label that Butler rejects31 despite acknowledging her shift from performativity to precariousness32—indeed, her latest work aims to combine both perspectives. For present purposes, what matters is that her retrieval, re-appropriation, and resignification of the concept of the human coincides chronologically with this transition, which dates from after the 9/11 attacks. In particular, the human re-enters her theoretical scene as a ‘response to the conditions of heightened vulnerability and aggression that followed from those events’;33 that is, as a response to extreme precarity. Coming from an explicit post-structuralist and anti-humanist background, the human invoked by Butler cannot be an essentialist or naturalist one; it cannot be the materialisation of an abstract identity or a common form. What Butler seeks to describe is rather an ‘impossible condition’,34 one that is improper or inadequate.35 Instead of a strong ontological claim that would categorically define what the human is, Butler is looking to produce a disruption in the realm of ontology, an insurrection36 that is able not only to deconstruct previous, restrictive, and exclusionary conceptions of the human, but also to put forward new, more inclusive, responsible, and non-violent, albeit always improper and contingent, figures. The human, therefore, is not a clear-cut genre in a neat taxonomy, but the enactment of a moving frontier, a line in the sand that must be permanently drawn and re-drawn for the sake of a less violent cohabitation.37 In this respect, Butler warns that ‘we must learn to live and to embrace the destruction and rearticulation of the human in the name of a more capacious and, finally, less violent world, not knowing in advance what precise form our humanness does and will take. It means we must be open to its permutations’.38 The human at stake here appears ‘where we do not expect to find it’;39 it is fragile and challenges what we know, and Butler proposes consequently to interrogate its ‘emergence and vanishing’.40 This human is vulnerable, precarious, and interdependent, and is a critical rejoinder to the idea of a self-sufficient and autonomous being. When figuring the human from this perspective, the margins, the outside, the other, and the nonhuman acquire an extraordinary importance and stop being its mere contrary in a binary opposition: the human must include ‘the very “other” against which the human was defined’;41 must be ‘in relationship with that which is inhuman or non-human’;42 must be resituated ‘within the non-human’43 because the human ‘is always outside itself in the non-human’,44 always outside its humanness. The human is improper and vulnerable precisely because it is dependent on others and other things; it is the result of a relation or, more exactly, an assemblage constituted by a plurality of relations.45 ‘The negotiation of humanity happens here, at the juncture where the human confronts the limits of its self-definition’;46 that is, the nonhuman, the monstrous, the non-figurable. In what she considers to be a ‘non-anthropocentric conception of the human’ or even ‘a non-anthropocentric philosophical anthropology’47—in a nod to Balibar’s formula—Butler challenges the traditional boundaries to show how these are indeed permeable and mobile. The nonhuman through which the human is articulated reveals itself, therefore, both as limit and condition, with the human appearing as a failed success, as an improper being: ‘we must avow error as constitutive of who we are. This does not mean that we are only error, or that all we say is errant and wrong. But it does mean that what conditions our doing is a constitutive limit, for which we cannot give a full account, and this condition is, paradoxically, the basis of our accountability’.48 The impropriety and relationality of the human becomes particularly clear in Butler’s appeal to the trope of catachresis. The production of humanity and inhumanity is, according to Butler, a catachrestic process, which she illustrates with the example of two literary characters: Odradek and Antigone.49 Catachresis, from the Greek κατάχρησις, is a rhetorical figure that refers to a misuse or strained use of a word. For Butler, the human is generated through a catachresis, but it is important to point out that, in this case, the misuse of the name ‘human’ does not presuppose the existence of a right use (συνηθεíα), a correct use.50 In other words, the infraction does not imply that an ultimate norm or law—a true human nature or essence—is being missed.51 Gayatri Spivak, in a similar twist and re-appropration of the notion, uses the term ‘catachresis’ to describe ‘a word for which there is no adequate referent to be found’.52 The concept of the human would then be like a tailor-made suit that inevitably does not fit, that is too big or too small no matter how many times we take measures, a suit that we nevertheless need and, because of that, we perpetually adjust and readjust. In particular, the process of re-making the suit takes place from the margins. The outside, the excluded, works as a mirror for the human’s flawed suit. The reflection in the mirror reminds the human that the suit is not right, that the catachresis needs to be kept in motion to make room for those left out. Butler specifically examines the catachrestic figuration and refiguration of the human in two fictional outcasts: Odradek and Antigone. Ordradek comes from Kafka’s short story ‘The Cares of a Family Man’.53 It is a strange, thing-like, non-conceptualisable creature: a flat star-shaped spool of thread with a crossbar sticking out of the middle of the star and ending in a right angle: ‘By means of this latter rod on one side and one of the points of the star on the other, the whole thing can stand upright as if on two legs.’54 The description of Odradek is succinct, and we are given a justification for that: ‘closer scrutiny is impossible, since Odradek is extraordinarily nimble and can never be laid hold of’.55 The story continues: ‘many a time … you feel inclined to speak to him. Of course, you put no difficult questions to him, you treat him—he is so diminutive that you cannot help it—rather like a child. “Well, what’s your name?” you ask him. “Odradek,” he says. “And where do you live?” “No fixed abode,” he says and laughs; but it is only the kind of laughter that has no lungs behind it. It sounds rather like the rustling of fallen leaves. And that is usually the end of the conversation’.56 Odradek is, thus, a being in the limits or margins of the human, a catachrestic or improper being: it is ‘as if’ it had legs, is tiny like a child, and has the ability to laugh. However, its legs are not really legs but metal rods. Neither is it a real child because, as we are told at the end, it will outlast the narrator’s children, and his children’s children. And, finally, it does not really laugh, as the sound it emits is a lungless sound, like that of dry leaves falling. In Butler’s reading, which is mediated by Adorno’s,57 Odradek is a dehumanised figure, a being that has vacated the human form, and a distortion. However, the presence of this creature is the occasion for a particular hope: the inhuman ‘establishes a critical point of departure for an analysis of the social conditions under which the human is constituted and deconstituted’.58 Without idealising the inhuman, this perspective points to the outside as the site from where the inside can be relativised, questioned, and changed, but also sustained, since the inhuman is inevitably part of the human—the human is constituted by the inhuman, by the unknowable. Kafka’s short tale depicts Odradek in an ambiguous manner, as being and not being human, but it is pervaded by tenderness towards this creature. The question that arises is: what would happen if Odradek asked explicitly to count as human? What would happen is what does happen in the tragedy of Antigone. Sophocles tells the story of the aftermath of the fratricide fight between Antigone’s brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles. Both are killed in the battle, and Creon, their uncle, ascends to the throne of Thebes, decreeing that Polyneices not be buried or even mourned, on pain of death. Antigone occupies in this setting a monstrous and aberrant place, not only because she is the offspring of Oedipus’ incest, and is therefore both daughter and sister of her father, and sister and aunt of her brothers, nor because she is related by kin to a murderous crime, but also—and more importantly—because she defies Creon’s law and claims her right to mourn and bury Polyneices. This gesture is what Butler identifies as a performative catachresis of the human, as the operation of a catachrestic human.59 Antigone is a creature classified as nonhuman or less than human that claims her right to be human, her right to have rights, borrowing Arendt’s famous expression.60 She does so by speaking and acting as human, in its language and in its space, when she is not recognised as such and when she is excluded from that entitlement. In this way, Antigone forces the human to enter into catachresis; that is, she dismisses the human’s up to then alleged proper usage and upsets its vocabulary. This catachresis is also described by Butler as a ‘performative contradiction’61 between two antithetic senses of the human: ‘the normative one based on radical exclusion and the one that emerges in the sphere of the excluded’;62 the human from which Antigone is being excluded and the human that Antigone claims to be. When Antigone raises her voice in the public space from where she is nevertheless banished, she is exposing the limits and the contradictory character of the current formulation of the human. At the same time, in claiming her rights, she instigates the formulation of a more expansive and inclusive notion of the human. For Butler, this catachresis is not just an exceptional case, but the very functioning of the figure of the human that she wants to recuperate: this notion, precisely because of its catachrestic nature, will always be open-ended, will never find an adequate and definitive codification.63 This open-endedness, this permanent catachresis, impropriety—or performative contradiction—far from being a liability, is indeed what, for Butler, makes of the human a tool for emancipation and liberation instead of for subjection.64 According to Butler, the category of the human grants to those considered to comply with it the right to live a livable life.65 If many subjects are currently deprived of this entitlement, it is because they do not count as humans. The problem that motivates Butler’s engagement with the human is not, then, that humans are tired of being human, constrained by a rigid nature and wanting to be something else—for example, post-human or trans-human. Rather, the problem is that there are beings excluded from humanity and classified as monstrous. Butler indicates that the nonhuman is condemned to not matter66 in the double sense of the word: to be unimportant and to lack materiality, to be unintelligible and, furthermore, unreal, spectral.67 For Butler, Odradek and Antigone have the same unreal condition as Guantanamo prisoners, sans-papiers, refugees, or queer people. In this context, the notion of the catachrestic human reveals itself as a fundamental battlefield where the invisible may become visible and where the rights of the disenfranchised can be laid claim to. IV. MIS-BEING IN ÉTIENNE BALIBAR Balibar’s recent work has undertaken the project of reopening the case of the human after the controversy against humanism. In particular, Balibar defends the importance of rethinking and reassessing the questions raised by philosophical anthropology for our present times.68 He acknowledges that his position is rare in France,69 but he promotes it as an effective response to the current conjuncture of the world, which is different from that of the anti-humanist period.70 This conjuncture testifies to a proliferation of what Balibar calls cruelty or ‘extreme violence’;71 that is, an excessive development to which no symmetric counter-power or counter-violence can be opposed without worsening it. For Balibar, the only way to confront this extreme violence is to invoke the human as a limit to it, to declare this violence—using Foucault’s expression—intolerable72 in the name of humanity, ‘incompatible with “human” existence, which it threatens with death, misery, or abjection’.73 This is, therefore, the rationale for a philosophical anthropology that, consequently, has no positive ground or foundation in a human essence or nature, but is generated through its encounter with a purely external and negative limit incarnated in forms of extreme violence.74 From this perspective, the human and the inhuman are intimately connected, as we saw already with Butler: inhumanity is that ‘without which the very idea of humanity and the humane would be meaningless’.75 The philosophical anthropology that Balibar puts forward is hence less concerned with constructing a consistent category of the human than with testing its limits, its relation to the unrepresentable.76 Balibar distinguishes between humanism, which works under the assumption that there are only two possible understandings of the human, either as an essence or nature, or as a condition or pure existence, and anthropology, which proposes an alternative to humanism through a conception of the human in terms of relations.77 While both humanist options provide an equally abstract notion of the human, Balibar’s anthropology, inspired by Spinoza, Marx, and the politics of human rights, aims to address the singularity and differences that inform humans through their relations. This anthropology of relations detects a ‘minimal human nature’78 not in a general form or feature, but in what Balibar calls the ‘transindividual’,79 that is, the individual understood as always already constituted by its relations to others. This was precisely Marx’s definition of the essence of ‘man’ [sic], a quote that Balibar cites on numerous occasions as the point of departure for his anthropological perspective: ‘the essence of man is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations’.80 This ensemble of relations and the human that results from it must not be understood as a whole or closed totality, but as an open, changing, and indefinitely extendable network. Furthermore, Balibar associates transindividuality with what Spinoza called the ‘incompressible minimum’81 and portrays it as that which extreme violence cannot obliterate, meaning it is the site for a political response to violence: ‘individuality itself is transindividual … what grounds both individuals’ capacity to resist violence and, quite simply, their “being” is the whole set of relations that they maintain at all times with other individuals who “are a part of themselves” as they “are part” of the being of others’.82 This peculiar interpretation of the anthropological standpoint has been described as an ‘anthropology without metaphysics’,83 a ‘post-philosophical anthropology’,84 and a relationality built less on the models of substance and the anthropologia perennis than on the figures of the aporia and the incompleteness.85 Yet, the result of this is not the death of the human or even a merely negative notion of the human, but an understanding of the human as a continuous exercise of constitution and destitution, as an undulatory movement of construction and deconstruction that challenges the binary opposition between monolithic identity and pure fragmentation.86 Balibar devotes a significant part of his research to unveiling the genealogy of this conception of the human, and insists that it is not an a-historic idea but a typically modern creation that results from a process with three main milestones: subjectus, subjectum, and citizen. The twofold etymology of the term ‘subject’—from the Latin subjectus (masculine) and subjectum (neuter)—allows Balibar to unravel two different stages in the constitution of subjectivity.87 Initially, subjects thought of themselves as subjectus—that is, subditus—subjects subjected to an external authority: God, the sovereign, and the like. Modernity challenged this subjugation by erecting a model of subjectivity based on the idea of subjectum, which, from the Greek hypokeimenon, means support, ground, or foundation. The subject became a first principle, its own master. When postmodernity declares the death of the subject, it attacks the subjectum, the sovereign and self-sufficient subject, which is denounced as an ideological construction. But this declaration does not entail the end of the story of the human. Balibar situates another figure after the subject: the citizen. The citizen is defined by her rights and duties; that is, is defined transindividually and relationally in and through the institutions that give birth to her. This figure, according to Balibar, finds its origin in the transition from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, when the model of the subject (subjectus-subjectum) is gradually displaced in benefit of an image of the human as a process of continuous institutional creation and recreation. To be human and to be a citizen amount to the same. The citizen incarnates a humanity constituted through what Balibar calls ‘Arendt’s theorem’: ‘it is not man [sic] who makes the institution, but the institution that makes (or, depending on the case, unmakes) man’.88 The human is thus a performative product of a certain configuration of citizenship; those who do not comply with the requisites of that citizenship will not qualify as humans. Balibar’s thesis is that these different conceptions of the subject and the human, although antithetical in their connotations of constraint—subjectus—and freedom—subjectum—do not describe in practice a ‘linear succession or a teleological transformation’,89 but haunt and overdetermine each other. Even if the notion of citizen aims to implement a political universe of equal and inclusive rights, everyday experience bears witness to the persistence of the figure of the subjectus; that is, the persistence of inequalities, dominations, and exclusions. Balibar uses the term ‘malêtre’ (mis-being) to designate the permanently constructed, deconstructed, and reconstructed condition of the human conceived as citizen, the incompleteness and impropriety of its realisation—always threatened by the subjectus—the fact that it is an ‘unfinished, precarious, and insufficient’90 human that never fully recognises itself. The condition of mis-being is the consequence of the human’s relationality: humans are not merely subjects ‘“of’” a relation, subjects that enter into relations, but are in themselves relations, the result of relations.91 This entails that they do not have an essence but are ‘unstable, perpetually changing in … configuration’,92 and incorporate the possibility of a multiplicity of transformations. This is the reason why Balibar speaks of a certain malformation or monstrosity of the human: the malêtre is an Unwesen, which in German also means monster. Even if the monster does not conform to a type, norm, or substance, it is not a pure privation or negation, but rather is the erratic and improper result of a network of relations. In other words, it is not the negation of being but a failed, improper being, always in the making.93 Balibar builds his concept of mis-being on John Locke’s notion of uneasiness: the uneasy subject is ‘the subject affected with uneasiness concerning her own humanness’.94 This uneasiness, for Balibar, is irreducible, and as much as it is what makes the category of the human fail once and again, it is also the drive and the source for its resignifications, for fighting against reductionist versions of it. Uneasiness constitutes and simultaneously destitutes the human, and in destituting it, is thus ‘the site … of displacement, de-identification, and alternative normativity’.95 The mis-being of the human is especially clear in what Balibar calls ‘anthropological differences’, which are not the particular differences between individuals, but the dissymmetry of their relations. These differences separate humans through mobile frontiers that cannot be fixed and represented neatly, through lines of cleavage that are contestable, but not eliminable or avoidable; they are ‘at once irreducible and indeterminable’.96 It is impossible to imagine the human deprived of these differences, but they are also impossible to localise and define without inflicting an extreme violence. The main problem with them is that they are often translated into exclusions and discriminations, even in societies that are supposed to be based on the principle of equality. Balibar provides as examples of these anthropological differences race, sex, and normality/abnormality. On the one hand, anthropological differences are that which the universality of rights and equality aims to obliterate—we should all be equal regardless of our sex; on the other hand, however, anthropological differences are the place, or rather the ‘other scene’97 neglected by the predominant view, where exclusion can be denounced, and where identities at play can be challenged and replaced with alternative ones, the place where blind spots can be brought to light.98 This last manoeuvre is realised through the enactment of a performative contradiction—to use Butler’s concept—that happens when the voices of those excluded make themselves heard. Balibar appeals to the examples of Mary Wollstonecraft and Frantz Fanon, which play the same role in his theory as Odradek and Antigone in Butler’s. Wollstonecraft’s and Fanon’s denunciations exposed the contradiction of an alleged universality that was excluding a large portion of humanity: women and black people. While Butler resorted to the trope of catachresis to explain how the human is unmade and remade in the performative contradiction, Balibar uses two additional tropes: ‘the synecdoche of the universal in the difference between sexes and the double bind of utterance’.99 Wollstonecraft unmasks how the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’ uses paradoxically certain words, such as ‘man’, holding that they are universal when in fact they only refer to a limited part of humanity. In using the term ‘man’ equivocally in her text, both as a generic for ‘human’ and as referring to males, she puts into play a synecdoche of the universal that reveals its contradictions. Fanon for his part shows how the false universality of the white man throws the black man into abjection and a double bind. To oppose this, Fanon uses ‘man’ to designate both the denatured and phantasmatic humanity of whites and a generic and egalitarian conception of humanity. Wollstonecraft’s and Fanon’s performative interventions—and mis-being in general—disrupt the ontology of the human,100 in a similar vein as Antigone and Odradek provoke an ontological insurrection. This disruption, however, is not just an interruption of an otherwise normal humanity, but the revelation of its very essence, or rather mis-essence. We ultimately are all Unwesens, Odradeks, and Antigones. Forgetting our condition of mis-being generates the illusion of a proper being and, as a consequence, discriminations and violence. In order to prevent this, the borders of the human must be kept in motion. V. A MINIMUM ANTHROPOLOGY In conclusion, Butler and Balibar portray the human as a processual and relational instance with permeable frontiers, focusing on the becoming-human of the nonhuman and vice versa. They both formulate a minimum anthropology articulated around the need to expose and fight both the excess and the defect of human essence. If the human is essentialised or naturalised, it can be used as a mechanism to control and normalise; if the human is simply relinquished, then contesting extreme violence and precarity becomes an almost impossible task. Showing and reminding us that the human is always a precarious drawing in the sand is thus crucial to challenge the notion of a fixed human essence. Conversely, the appeal to a minimum anthropology—even if it is catachrestic, a mis-being, and purely relational—prevents the human from dissolving into fragments useless in the claim for human rights and a livable life. This minimum anthropology aims thus to provide a number of elements to refigure the drawing in the sand. In short, these anthropologies depict a peculiar human being: a permanently catachrestic human (mis)being; a human after all, but never all too human, forced to play in the sand indefinitely.101 REFERENCES Footnotes 1 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things. An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (London: Routledge, 1970), p. 422. 2 For a detailed account of Foucault’s anti-humanism, see Béatrice Han-Pile, ‘The “Death of Man”: Foucault and Anti-Humanism’, in Timothy O’Leary and Christopher Falzon (eds), Foucault and Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010), pp. 118–42. 3 Béatrice Han-Pile’s interpretation of Foucault’s late work on subjectivity and freedom as an implicit attempt to retain the emancipatory force of humanism while rejecting its metaphysical content (Ibid., pp. 136–7) bears witness too, albeit from a different perspective, of an oscillatory movement between critique and construction with regard to the human. 4 Balibar’s concept of mis-being (malêtre) appears in his book Citoyen sujet et autres essais d’anthropologie philosophique (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2011). This book has recently been translated into English with a slightly different (and stronger) subtitle: Étienne Balibar, Citizen Subject: Foundations for Philosophical Anthropology, trans. Steven Miller (New York: Fordham University, 2017). Here, Steven Miller translates malêtre as ‘ill-being’ (p. 257); however, I translate it as mis-being because the prefix ‘mis’ does not have the pathological connotations of ‘ill’ and maintains the plurivocity of ‘mal’ in French; that is, both the sense of wrong, incorrect, mistaken, and the aspect of trouble and disruption. This also conforms to the translation of the term in Irving Goh, The Reject: Community, Politics, and Religion after the Subject (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015), p. 171. 5 See Louis Althusser, ‘The Humanist Controversy’, in The Humanist Controversy and Other Writings (1966–1967), ed. François Matheron, trans. G.M. Goshgarian (London: Verso, 2003), pp. 221–305. 6 See, for example, Ann V. Murphy, ‘Corporeal Vulnerability and the New Humanism’, Hypatia 26 (2011) 575–90; and Sina Kramer, ‘Judith Butler’s “New Humanism”. A Thing or Not a Thing, and So What?’, philoSOPHIA 5 (2015) 25–40. 7 Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation, trans. Denis Savage (London: Yale University Press, 1970), p. 35. 8 Peter E. Gordon, Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (London: Harvard University Press, 2012), p. 200. 9 For a detailed account of Heidegger’s relationship to humanism and his critique of the notion of the human, see Gavin Rae, ‘Re-Thinking the Human: Heidegger, Fundamental Ontology, and Humanism’, Human Studies 33 (2010) 23–39. 10 Martin Heidegger, ‘Letter on Humanism’, in Basic Writings: From Being and Time (1927) to The Task of Thinking (1964), ed. David Farrell Krell (London: Harper Perennial, 2008), p. 219. 11 Balibar presents the anti-humanist controversy as mainly fought in two foundational scenes: a German scene, conducted by Heidegger, and a French scene, dominated by Lévi-Strauss. This is the map he traces in his lecture ‘Anti-Humanism, and the Question of Philosophical Anthropology’, pronounced on the 17 May 2012, at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London. Available online at: http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2012/05/etienne-balibar-anti-humanism-and-the-question-of-philosophical-anthropology/. 12 Claude Lévi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, trans. Claire Jacobson and Brooke Grundfest Schoepf (New York: Basic Books, 1963), p. 80. 13 Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954–1955, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Sylvana Tomaselli (London: W.W. Norton, 1991), p. 167. 14 Foucault, The Order of Things, p. 414. 15 Althusser, The Humanist Controversy, p. 271. 16 Vincent Descombes, Modern French Philosophy, trans. Lorna Scott-Fox and Jeremy M. Harding (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), pp. 103–9; François Dosse, History of Structuralism, Volume 1: The Rising Sign, 1945–1966, trans. Deborah Glassman (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), pp. 306–8. 17 See the criticisms addressed against anti-humanism in Luc Ferry and Alain Renault, French Philosophy of the Sixties. An Essay on Antihumanism, trans. Mary H.S. Cattani (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1990). Similar objections and concerns were raised within feminism. See Seyla Benhabib et al., Feminist Contentions: A Philosophical Exchange (London: Routledge, 1995) and Linda J. Nicholson (ed.), Feminism/Postmodernism (London: Routledge, 1990). 18 See Bertrand Ogilvie, La seconde nature du politique. Essai d’anthropologie négative (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2012), p. 21. 19 Samuel Beckett, ‘Worstward Ho’, in Nohow On (London: John Calder, 1991), p. 101. 20 Louis Althusser, For Marx, trans. Ben Brewster (London: Verso, 2005), pp. 231, 247. 21 Murphy, ‘Corporeal Vulnerability and the New Humanism’; Inge Arteel, ‘Judith Butler and the Catachretic Human’, in Andy Mousley (ed.), Towards a New Literary Humanism (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 77–90; Birgit Schippers, The Political Philosophy of Judith Butler (London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 38–58. 22 Kramer, ‘Judith Butler’s “New Humanism”. A Thing or Not a Thing, and So What?’. 23 Drew Walker, ‘Two Regimes of the Human: Butler and the Politics of Mattering’, in Moya Lloyd (ed.), Butler and Ethics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), pp. 141–66; Mari Ruti, ‘The Ethics of Precarity: Judith Butler’s Reluctant Universalism’, in Between Levinas and Lacan. Self, Other, Ethics (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), pp. 39–76. 24 Bonnie Honig, Antigone, Interrupted (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Bonnie Honig, ‘Antigone’s Two Laws: Greek Tragedy and the Politics of Humanism’, New Literary History 41 (2010) 1–33. 25 Ogilvie, La seconde nature du politique, p. 43. 26 See the special issue of the journal Raison Publique dedicated to his thinking under the title ‘Pourquoi Balibar?’: Raison Publique 19 (2014); see also Jason Read, ‘The “Other Scene” of Political Anthropology: Between Transindividuality and Equaliberty’, in Warren Montag and Hanan Elsayed (eds), Balibar and the Citizen Subject (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), pp. 111–31. 27 On the notion of violence, see Étienne Balibar, Violence and Civility: On the Limits of Political Philosophy, trans. G.M. Goshgarian (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015); on the notions of precariousness and precarity, see Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2004) and Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? (London: Verso, 2009). While precariousness names a generalised condition of the human, precarity refers, more specifically, to a politically induced condition, that is, to the differential distribution of precariousness—for example, the differential exposure to violence and death—across populations. 28 See, for example, Honig, Antigone Interrupted, pp. 43–6; and Jodi Dean, ‘Change of Address: Butler’s Ethics at Sovereignty’s Deadlock’, in Terrell Carver and Samuel Chambers (eds), Judith Butler’s Precarious Politics: Critical Encounters (London: Routledge, 2008), pp. 109–26. 29 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (London: Routledge, 1999 [1990]). 30 Catherine Mills, ‘Normative Violence, Vulnerability, and Responsibility’, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 18 (2007) 133; Moya Lloyd (ed.), Butler and Ethics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015). 31 Judith Butler and William Connolly, ‘Politics, Power and Ethics: A Discussion between Judith Butler and William Connolly’, Theory & Event 4 (2000). Available online at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/32589; Judith Butler, ‘Ethical Ambivalence’, in Marjorie Garber et al. (eds), The Turn to Ethics (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 15–28; and Judith Butler and Emma Ingala, ‘Judith Butler: A Living Engagement with Politics’, Isegoría 56 (2017) 27–8. 32 Judith Butler, Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (London: Harvard University Press, 2015), pp. 26–7. For an account of the relationship between performativity and precarity in Butler, see Emma Ingala, ‘From Hannah Arendt to Judith Butler: The Conditions of the Political’, in Gavin Rae and Emma Ingala (eds), Subjectivity and the Political: Contemporary Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2018), pp. 35–53. 33 Butler, Precarious Life, p. xi. 34 Judith Butler, Senses of the Subject (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015), p. 4. 35 I take the idea of impropriety from Bertrand Ogilvie’s formulation of an ‘anthropology of the improper’ for an inevitably improper human order. See Ogilvie, La seconde nature du politique, p. 43. 36 ‘It is … an insurrection at the level of ontology.’ Butler, Precarious Life, p. 33. I thank Tim Huzar for pointing out to me the importance of this gesture of insurrection and for formulating, in his doctoral thesis Themes of Visibility in Rancière, Butler and Cavarero (University of Brighton, 2017), the concept of an ‘insurrectional humanism’ to describe Butler’s position. 37 I take this notion from Butler’s engagement with Hannah Arendt. See Butler, Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, pp. 99–122. 38 Judith Butler, Undoing Gender (London: Routledge, 2004), p. 35. 39 Butler, Precarious Life, p. 151. 40 Ibid. 41 Butler, Undoing Gender, p. 190. 42 Judith Butler and Fina Birulés, ‘Interview with Judith Butler: “Gender is Extramoral”’, Monthly Review Online (2009). Available online at: https://mronline.org/2009/05/16/interview-with-judith-butler-gender-is-extramoral/. 43 Pierpaolo Antonello and Roberto Farneti, ‘Antigone’s Claim: A Conversation with Judith Butler’, Theory & Event 12 (2000). Available online at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/263144. 44 Ibid. 45 Butler, Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, p. 68. 46 Judith Butler, ‘Afterword’, in VV. AA. The Humanities in Human Rights: Critique, Language, Politics, PMLA 121 (2006) 1660. 47 Antonello and Farneti, ‘Antigone’s Claim: A Conversation with Judith Butler’. 48 Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), p. 111. 49 Inge Arteel has formulated the idea of a ‘catachretic human’ and has analysed, although from a different perspective, Butler’s readings of Antigone and Odradek. See Arteel, ‘Judith Butler and the Catachretic Human’. 50 Judith Butler, Antigone’s Claim: Kinship between Life and Death (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), pp. 81–2; Arteel, ‘Judith Butler and the Catachretic Human’, pp. 85–9. 51 Butler may have found inspiration in Jacques Derrida’s and Gayatri Spivak’s reflections on catachresis. See Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass (Brighton: The Harvester Press, 1982), pp. 235–44; and Gayatri C. Spivak, ‘Poststructuralism, Marginality, Postcoloniality and Value’, in Peter Collier and Helga Geyer-Ryan (eds), Literary Theory Today (London: Polity Press, 1990), pp. 198–222. 52 Spivak, ‘Poststructuralism, Marginality, Postcoloniality and Value’, p. 220. 53 Franz Kafka, ‘The Cares of a Family Man’, in The Complete Stories, trans. Willa and Edwin Muir (New York: Schocken Books, 1971), pp. 427–9. 54 Ibid., p. 428. 55 Ibid. 56 Ibid. 57 Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself, pp. 61–2, 105–7. 58 Ibid., p. 105. 59 Butler, Antigone’s Claim, pp. 81–2. 60 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1973 [1958]), pp. 296–8; Butler, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, pp. 48–9, 80. 61 For the notion of performative contradiction, see Judith Butler, ‘Universality in Culture’, in Joshua Cohen and Martha C. Nussbaum (eds), For Love of Country? (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2002), pp. 47–8. 62 Butler, Antigone’s Claim, p. 81. 63 Butler, ‘Universality in Culture’, p. 48. 64 ‘For someone to say that a person who is considered non-human is, in fact, human means a resignifcation of humanness and emphasises that humanness can work in another form. On occasions it is important to use the term precisely in the way that the Human Rights discourse sometimes does: taking someone to whom the defining characteristics of humanness are not attributed and affirming that person is human is a performative act that redefines humanness in terms of liberation, as emancipation. It is not a question of searching for what was already there, but of making it happen’. Butler and Birulés, ‘Interview with Judith Butler: “Gender is Extramoral”’. 65 Butler, Precarious Life, p. 146. 66 Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter. On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ (New York: Routledge, 1993), p. xxiv. 67 Butler, Senses of the Subject, p. 175. 68 In 2010, Balibar published the volume Violence et civilité with a concluding chapter entitled ‘Après-coup. Sur les limites de l’anthropologie politique’, translated as ‘Après-Coup: The Limits of Political Anthropology’. The problem of anthropology became the core of the collection of texts issued the following year, in 2011: Citoyen sujet et autres essais d’anthropologie philosophique. However, Balibar had already addressed the question of philosophical anthropology in previous works. In 1989, he contributed to a special issue of Cahiers confrontation (Étienne Balibar, ‘Citoyen sujet. Réponse a la question de Jean-Luc Nancy: Qui vient après le sujet?’, Cahiers confrontation 20 (1989) 23–47, which was initially published in 1988 in the Italian journal Topoi, and republished in Citizen Subject, pp. 19–39) responding to Jean-Luc Nancy’s question ‘who comes after the subject?’; in 2003 and 2009, he contributed to two special issues of the journal differences, titled ‘On Humanism’ and ‘The Future of the Human’, with the articles ‘Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?’ (differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 14 (2003) 1–21) and ‘Violence and Civility: On the Limits of Political Anthropology’ (differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 20 (2009) 9–35) respectively. 69 Étienne Balibar et al., ‘L’anthropologie philosophique et l’anthropologie historique en débat. Entretien entre Étienne Balibar & Gunter Gebauer’, Rue Descartes 75 (2012) 82. In this interview (pp. 92, 96), Balibar acknowledges that he has an ambiguous relationship with anthropological discourse: on the one hand, he insists that he does not do anthropology himself but rather that his is a second order interest, a critique and a genealogy of anthropology; however, on the other hand, he admits that he tries to develop and use anthropological discourse, proposing a certain codification or problematisation of the question of the human. As he puts it in Citizen Subject, he offers ‘not a positive program of “philosophical anthropology”, but a discussion of its stakes, its heritages, and its aporias’ (Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 5). 70 Étienne Balibar, ‘The Infinite Contradiction’, Yale French Studies 88 (1995) 144. 71 Balibar, Violence and Civility, pp. xii–xiii. 72 Michel Foucault, ‘Je perçois l’intolérable’, in Dits et écrits 1954–1988, vol. II (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), pp. 203–5. 73 Balibar, Violence and Civility, p. 159. 74 Ibid., p. xiii. 75 Ibid., p. 131. 76 Balibar, ‘Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?’, pp. 3–4, 10–11. 77 Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 16; Étienne Balibar, ‘Foucault’s Point of Heresy: “Quasi-Transcendentals” and the Transdisciplinary Function of the Episteme’, Theory, Culture & Society 32 (2015) 46. See also Balibar, ‘Anti-Humanism, and the Question of Philosophical Anthropology’, where he affirms the following: ‘the death of man does not imply the impossibility of a critical anthropology of relations’. 78 Balibar, Violence and Civility, p. 16. 79 Balibar, Ibid., p. 138. See also Read, ‘The “Other Scene” of Political Anthropology: Between Transindividuality and Equaliberty’, where the notion is tracked back to Gilbert Simondon (p. 112). 80 Karl Marx, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Collected Works, vol. 5 (New York: International Publishers, 1976) p. 7; Étienne Balibar, The Philosophy of Marx, trans. Chris Turner (London: Verso, 1995), p. 27; Balibar, Citizen Subject, pp. 299–300. 81 Balibar, Violence and Civility, p. 138. 82 Ibid. See also Louis Carré, ‘Violence, institutions, “politique de la civilité”. Étienne Balibar et les enjeux d’une “anthropologie politique”’, Raison Publique 19 (2014) 32–3. 83 Diogo Sardinha, ‘La contribution d’Étienne Balibar à une anthropologie sans métaphysique’, Raison Publique 19 (2014) 69–80. 84 Diogo Sardinha and Roberto Nigro, in Balibar et al., ‘L’anthropologie philosophique et l’anthropologie historique en débat. Entretien entre Étienne Balibar & Gunter Gebauer’, p. 81. 85 Balibar, ‘The Infinite Contradiction’, p. 146; Carré, ‘Violence, institutions, “politique de la civilité”’, pp. 24, 33. 86 According to Balibar, structuralism is responsible for destituting the previous notions of the subject and the human and putting in their place not a new version, but the very exercise of constitution and destitution. See Balibar, ‘Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?’, p. 10; Carré, ‘Violence, institutions, “politique de la civilité”’, p. 33. 87 Étienne Balibar et al., ‘Subject’, in Barbara Cassin (ed.), Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon (Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2014), pp. 1069–91. 88 Étienne Balibar, Equaliberty: Political Essays, trans. James Ingram (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), p. 315. 89 Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 4. 90 Ibid. 91 Ibid., p. 299. 92 Ibid., p. 301. 93 Ibid. See also Balibar, ‘Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?’, p. 10. 94 Étienne Balibar, ‘Civic Universalism and Its Internal Exclusions: The Issue of Anthropological Difference’, boundary 2 39 (2012) 227. 95 Ibid., p. 229. 96 Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 16. See also p. 292; Balibar et al., ‘L’anthropologie philosophique et l’anthropologie historique en débat. Entretien entre Étienne Balibar & Gunter Gebauer’, pp. 99–100; and Balibar, ‘Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?’, p. 16. 97 Balibar borrows this expression from Freud. See Étienne Balibar, Politics and the Other Scene, trans. Christine Jones, James Swenson and Chris Turner (London: Verso, 2011), p. vii. 98 Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 302. 99 Balibar, Citoyen sujet, p. 478 (this sentence is missing in the English translation). 100 Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 286. Balibar uses in French the verb déranger, which has been translated as ‘disorient’. If we maintain the disruptive sense of this gesture, it is easy to see its link with Butler’s insurrection. 101 I would like to thank Gavin Rae, Anna Fisk, and Alana Vincent for their careful reading and feedback on an earlier draft. This paper forms part of the activities for the research projects ‘Pensamiento y representación literaria y artística digital ante la crisis de Europa y el Mediterráneo’, funded by Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Banco Santander (reference number PR26/16-6B-3), and ‘Naturaleza Humana y Comunidad III: ¿Actualidad del humanismo e inactualidad del hombre?’, funded by the Spanish Ministry of the Economy and Competitivity (reference number FFI2013-46815-P). © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press 2018; all rights reserved. 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Catachresis and Mis-Being in Judith Butler and Étienne Balibar: Contemporary Refigurations of the Human as a Face Drawn in the Sand

Literature and Theology , Volume Advance Article (2) – May 30, 2018

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Abstract

Abstract The controversy over humanism in the second half of the twentieth century seemed to promote an irreversible abandonment of the concept of the human, famously illustrated by Foucault’s image of the face sketched in the sand at the seashore being erased by the water. In the last two decades, however, a number of philosophers have reassessed and returned to a certain notion of the human all the while incorporating the arguments of the anti-humanist and anti-anthropocentric critiques. Judith Butler and Étienne Balibar are among them. The aim of this article is to explore and compare the particular tropes that both put into play to refigure the human (namely, catachresis in Butler and mis-being in Balibar), and to show how, in light of these tropes, a different reading of Foucault’s metaphor emerges; one in which the human is understood as a continuous and tensional process of doing and undoing, of drawing and erasing lines in the sand. i. introduction In the profusely quoted last lines of The Order of Things, Michel Foucault wagered that the notion of the human would soon be erased like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea.1 This prediction has often been understood as a celebratory and definitive death sentence, a precursor to what ended up being called the ‘death of the human’ or the ‘death of the subject’.2 According to this interpretation, the category of the human would disappear to be replaced by other categories such as the post-human. In a certain sense, if we look around it seems like this is the case—the frontiers between humans, machines, and animals have become very blurry if not dissolved completely. However, Foucault’s claim might not be so linear.3 If we stop for a second on the seashore, we realise that the experience of drawing figures in the sand is much less tragic than death; it is rather playful. If we decide to doodle near the water, we know that the sea will wipe away our figures forever, but this is part of the game. We are actually allowed to keep playing precisely because we are invited to draw again, and again. I suggest reading Foucault’s image in this sense: it means not so much that the category of the human will or should be relegated forever, but that the human is constituted precariously and provisionally in a perpetual oscillatory movement; a movement of weaving and unweaving, drawing and erasing, constructing and deconstructing. I am suggesting, therefore, a consideration of the creative-destructive movement, rather than an exclusive focus on the destructive pole, in order to understand that destruction is just the prior moment to a further construction. It is important to note that, in this schema, deconstruction and construction are not two evolutionary moments, but two entwined processes without an absolute beginning or an absolute end. In order to show how this undulatory movement between neutralisation and creation works, I am going to consider the anthropologies of two contemporary philosophers: Judith Butler and Étienne Balibar. While they draw from the anti-humanist approach and its deconstructive task, they also complement it with a constructive proposal. As we will see, what these authors render manifest is that the category of the human is like a rope that is sustained not in spite of, but thanks, to the tension between these two extremes of drawing and erasing. This will become manifest through the exploration of the two concrete tropes that Butler and Balibar put into play to shape their own conception of the human: catachresis and mis-being,4 respectively. What these figures have in common is, to start with, the acknowledgement of a necessary failure, the recognition that, in references to the human, the term is always misused; the human is never fully human but mis-human. This paradoxical ontological condition, far from being purely adverse, guarantees that no fixed essence will dictate once and for all what it means to be human, and, simultaneously, taking distance from the abjuration of the initial anti-humanist approach, it safeguards a notion of the human that, even if improper, is capable of identifying and fighting the inhumane. Before engaging in a detailed explanation of the tropes of catachresis and mis-being, I will, in the following section, situate Butler’s and Balibar’s retrieval of the human in relation to what has been called the controversy about humanism,5 and then briefly expound how the secondary literature has reacted to what some have called ‘Butler’s new humanism’6 and to Balibar’s proposal of a philosophical anthropology. This will not only make explicit what is at stake in the debates that problematised and continue to problematise the notion of the human, but will also clarify the originality and value of Butler’s and Balibar’s positions and outline their connection. In particular, my contention is that they both, in their own specific way, put forward a minimum anthropology able to overcome the limitations of the essentialist/anti-essentialist—as well as the naturalist/constructivist—theoretical framework, one that grounds and permits the formulation of ethical-political commitments and normative principles. ii. the controversy about humanism Anti-humanism proliferated in French philosophy and—somewhat paradoxically—in the human sciences during the second half of the twentieth century. It took shape through a number of debates in different geographical and theoretical scenes. In order to specify the parameters of this problematisation of the human, I will succinctly outline a map of these debates and scenes before situating Butler’s and Balibar’s work in relation to them. The genealogy of anti-humanism can be traced back to what Paul Ricoeur called the ‘masters of suspicion’:7 Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. These thinkers, albeit from very different backgrounds and angles, have in common their questioning of the Cartesian subject as a metaphysical ground and of its alleged substantiality, self-sufficiency, transparency, and autonomy. As well as these first predecessors, another fundamental precedent of anti-humanism is Martin Heidegger’s critique of anthropocentrism, which intended to radicalise the destitution of the subject as a foundation. Heidegger’s quarrel with humanism was enacted in two famous disputes, first with Ernst Cassirer and later with Jean-Paul Sartre. In the discussion with Cassirer, which took place in Davos in 1929, Heidegger ‘declared that philosophy should return the human being from its obeisance before the idols of humanism to a genuine recognition of its own nothingness as being-in-the-world’.8 By denouncing the false metaphysical foundations upon which the notion of the human and the anthropocentric perspective had been erected—such as reason, spirit, consciousness, and so on—Heidegger aimed to render manifest their true nothingness.9 Twenty years later, in 1946, he further developed his position against anthropocentrism in the Letter on Humanism, written as an implicit corrective to Sartre’s Existentialism is a Humanism and as an explicit response to his colleague Jean Beaufret’s question: ‘how can we restore meaning to the word “humanism”?’.10 When, through these precursors, the anti-humanist polemic reached French territory, it thrived in two different contexts: human sciences and Marxism.11 In the first case, Claude Lévi-Strauss’s structural anthropology, inspired by Ferdinand de Saussure’s subject-less linguistic, paradigmatically dissolved the identity of the subject and of the human in benefit of impersonal structures that were considered to be the efficient cause of this identity. As a consequence, the human in anthropology turned out to be what Lévi-Strauss called an ‘uninvited guest’,12 a dispensable concept. Riding on the same wave, Jacques Lacan transposed the structuralist premises into the realm of psychoanalysis to make it the discipline of an ‘acephalic subject’.13 Given that they deny the existence of a human nature or of a general concept of humanity, and that they, therefore, unmake the positivity of the human that constitutes the object of the human sciences, Foucault considered that Lévi-Strauss’s and Lacan’s disciplines, ethnology and psychoanalysis, were, more than human sciences, ‘counter-sciences’.14 The second French context in which anti-humanism took shape was Louis Althusser’s crusade against humanist Socialism and the humanist readings of Marx. In the course of this debate, Althusser sought to demonstrate that Marx himself embraced, after an early idyll with humanism, a theoretical anti-humanism, defined by the denunciation and rejection of a number of notions as ideological and, thus, as epistemological obstacles: the notions of the human, the individual, the subject, and so on.15 The next generation of this lineage, usually labelled as post-structuralist, and which includes thinkers such as Foucault, Derrida, and Deleuze, synthesised the fundamental tenets of both geographies—the German and the French; of both scenes—the Marxist and the human sciences; and of both anti-humanist principles—the critique of the metaphysical (Heidegger) and of the ideological (Marx-Althusser) weight of the category of the human. The consolidation of anti-humanism in the French intellectual landscape spread the idea that there is no such thing as a human essence or nature and that, therefore, the category of the human is a contingent construction.16 This criticism was intended to be emancipatory and liberating: until that moment, a purported human nature had been dictating how individuals should be and behave and, indeed, ‘human’ had tended to mean male, white, Western, and heterosexual. Revealing the non-existence of a human nature or essence would open the possibility to be and behave otherwise. The interest and attention of these thinkers shifted then from the subject, the human, the individual, or the person to the a-subjective, nonhuman, pre-individual, and impersonal: structures, power relations, discourses, practices, norms, and so on. However, by suppressing the categories of human and subject and by not providing an alternative on that same level, the anti-humanist perspective struggled to account for agency, freedom, responsibility, or justice.17 Even more importantly, it seems that in our contemporary societies the main problem is no longer how to liberate humans from an oppressive human essence or nature, but how to claim humanity for those who are being systematically excluded from the right to be human: masses of refugees waiting in unbearable conditions to be granted asylum, but also gender, ethnic, or religious minorities being discriminated against and oppressed for not qualifying as human. In short, the new problematic seems to be no longer that of breaking free from human-ness, but of building more human-ness by refiguring the human in order to let in those condemned to the margins.18 What is at stake in these circumstances is the need to outline the category of the human in such a way that it is able to provide a common, inclusive ground for those who are being excluded, but without relying on a fixed essence that would impose restrictive practices or norms. This tension, as I will show, crystallises in Butler’s and Balibar’s anthropologies under the form of a disruptive (in)essence—catachresis and mis-being respectively—a failed essence but an essence nonetheless: what defines the human is precisely its inability to define itself, its permanent swinging between figuration and deletion, its vulnerability. Again, instead of taking this failure as the occasion to do without the human, a serious consideration of the process reveals that failure or (in)essence are precisely the essence of the human. All we can do, as Samuel Beckett put it, is try again, fail again, and fail better.19 Althusser already acknowledged the tension inherent to the category of the human and set the coordinates of the problem that Butler and Balibar try to respond to: even if humanism should be opposed to in the theoretical terrain, it nevertheless has a practical function and value that must be preserved.20 The notions of catachresis and mis-being dwell in this problematic field: they do not intend to provide a theoretical ground, nor do they return to a certain ontological essentialism or reify the human; rather, they figure humanity in terms of a disruption of essence, as a tension or failure that nonetheless is ethically and politically efficacious. The secondary literature on Butler’s and Balibar’s work offers different assessments of their explicit engagement with the human. Regarding Butler, some commentators simply identify a ‘new humanism’ in her theory since 2001,21 while others criticise her recent treatment of the human, holding that it contradicts her previous position in at least three different ways: by reintroducing a universal ground in what was supposed to be a post-foundational theory;22 by cancelling the anti-humanist approach;23 and by focusing on the vulnerable and mortal side of humans as opposed to their vitality and natality.24 With reference to Balibar, his recent project of a re-evaluation and recuperation of philosophical anthropology has been echoed, mostly in France, in works such as Bertrand Ogilvie’s La seconde nature du politique, which proposes a negative or improper anthropology,25 and has been discussed and examined as a renewed attempt to resignify concepts that were supposedly extinct in the post-structuralist context, including those of universality and the human.26 My aim is to show how Butler’s and Balibar’s figures of the human take hold both of the anti-humanist criticisms and of the requirements of a normative ethical and political approach; that is, how, to borrow Althusser’s terms, they maintain a theoretical anti-humanism and a practical humanism, and how this tension is what figures and refigures the human. This means that their reclamation of the human is not a purely speculative move, but a gesture forced by practice, in particular by the experience of extreme violence and precarity.27 III. CATACHRESIS IN JUDITH BUTLER Most commentators28 discern in Butler’s intellectual trajectory a point of inflection that takes her from a focus on performativity—the performative character of gender, norms, identities, and so on, paradigmatically represented by Gender Trouble,29 published in 1990—to an interest in the fundamental vulnerability of life, first condensed in the collection of essays Precarious Life, published in 2004. Some have referred to it as an ‘ethical turn’,30 a label that Butler rejects31 despite acknowledging her shift from performativity to precariousness32—indeed, her latest work aims to combine both perspectives. For present purposes, what matters is that her retrieval, re-appropriation, and resignification of the concept of the human coincides chronologically with this transition, which dates from after the 9/11 attacks. In particular, the human re-enters her theoretical scene as a ‘response to the conditions of heightened vulnerability and aggression that followed from those events’;33 that is, as a response to extreme precarity. Coming from an explicit post-structuralist and anti-humanist background, the human invoked by Butler cannot be an essentialist or naturalist one; it cannot be the materialisation of an abstract identity or a common form. What Butler seeks to describe is rather an ‘impossible condition’,34 one that is improper or inadequate.35 Instead of a strong ontological claim that would categorically define what the human is, Butler is looking to produce a disruption in the realm of ontology, an insurrection36 that is able not only to deconstruct previous, restrictive, and exclusionary conceptions of the human, but also to put forward new, more inclusive, responsible, and non-violent, albeit always improper and contingent, figures. The human, therefore, is not a clear-cut genre in a neat taxonomy, but the enactment of a moving frontier, a line in the sand that must be permanently drawn and re-drawn for the sake of a less violent cohabitation.37 In this respect, Butler warns that ‘we must learn to live and to embrace the destruction and rearticulation of the human in the name of a more capacious and, finally, less violent world, not knowing in advance what precise form our humanness does and will take. It means we must be open to its permutations’.38 The human at stake here appears ‘where we do not expect to find it’;39 it is fragile and challenges what we know, and Butler proposes consequently to interrogate its ‘emergence and vanishing’.40 This human is vulnerable, precarious, and interdependent, and is a critical rejoinder to the idea of a self-sufficient and autonomous being. When figuring the human from this perspective, the margins, the outside, the other, and the nonhuman acquire an extraordinary importance and stop being its mere contrary in a binary opposition: the human must include ‘the very “other” against which the human was defined’;41 must be ‘in relationship with that which is inhuman or non-human’;42 must be resituated ‘within the non-human’43 because the human ‘is always outside itself in the non-human’,44 always outside its humanness. The human is improper and vulnerable precisely because it is dependent on others and other things; it is the result of a relation or, more exactly, an assemblage constituted by a plurality of relations.45 ‘The negotiation of humanity happens here, at the juncture where the human confronts the limits of its self-definition’;46 that is, the nonhuman, the monstrous, the non-figurable. In what she considers to be a ‘non-anthropocentric conception of the human’ or even ‘a non-anthropocentric philosophical anthropology’47—in a nod to Balibar’s formula—Butler challenges the traditional boundaries to show how these are indeed permeable and mobile. The nonhuman through which the human is articulated reveals itself, therefore, both as limit and condition, with the human appearing as a failed success, as an improper being: ‘we must avow error as constitutive of who we are. This does not mean that we are only error, or that all we say is errant and wrong. But it does mean that what conditions our doing is a constitutive limit, for which we cannot give a full account, and this condition is, paradoxically, the basis of our accountability’.48 The impropriety and relationality of the human becomes particularly clear in Butler’s appeal to the trope of catachresis. The production of humanity and inhumanity is, according to Butler, a catachrestic process, which she illustrates with the example of two literary characters: Odradek and Antigone.49 Catachresis, from the Greek κατάχρησις, is a rhetorical figure that refers to a misuse or strained use of a word. For Butler, the human is generated through a catachresis, but it is important to point out that, in this case, the misuse of the name ‘human’ does not presuppose the existence of a right use (συνηθεíα), a correct use.50 In other words, the infraction does not imply that an ultimate norm or law—a true human nature or essence—is being missed.51 Gayatri Spivak, in a similar twist and re-appropration of the notion, uses the term ‘catachresis’ to describe ‘a word for which there is no adequate referent to be found’.52 The concept of the human would then be like a tailor-made suit that inevitably does not fit, that is too big or too small no matter how many times we take measures, a suit that we nevertheless need and, because of that, we perpetually adjust and readjust. In particular, the process of re-making the suit takes place from the margins. The outside, the excluded, works as a mirror for the human’s flawed suit. The reflection in the mirror reminds the human that the suit is not right, that the catachresis needs to be kept in motion to make room for those left out. Butler specifically examines the catachrestic figuration and refiguration of the human in two fictional outcasts: Odradek and Antigone. Ordradek comes from Kafka’s short story ‘The Cares of a Family Man’.53 It is a strange, thing-like, non-conceptualisable creature: a flat star-shaped spool of thread with a crossbar sticking out of the middle of the star and ending in a right angle: ‘By means of this latter rod on one side and one of the points of the star on the other, the whole thing can stand upright as if on two legs.’54 The description of Odradek is succinct, and we are given a justification for that: ‘closer scrutiny is impossible, since Odradek is extraordinarily nimble and can never be laid hold of’.55 The story continues: ‘many a time … you feel inclined to speak to him. Of course, you put no difficult questions to him, you treat him—he is so diminutive that you cannot help it—rather like a child. “Well, what’s your name?” you ask him. “Odradek,” he says. “And where do you live?” “No fixed abode,” he says and laughs; but it is only the kind of laughter that has no lungs behind it. It sounds rather like the rustling of fallen leaves. And that is usually the end of the conversation’.56 Odradek is, thus, a being in the limits or margins of the human, a catachrestic or improper being: it is ‘as if’ it had legs, is tiny like a child, and has the ability to laugh. However, its legs are not really legs but metal rods. Neither is it a real child because, as we are told at the end, it will outlast the narrator’s children, and his children’s children. And, finally, it does not really laugh, as the sound it emits is a lungless sound, like that of dry leaves falling. In Butler’s reading, which is mediated by Adorno’s,57 Odradek is a dehumanised figure, a being that has vacated the human form, and a distortion. However, the presence of this creature is the occasion for a particular hope: the inhuman ‘establishes a critical point of departure for an analysis of the social conditions under which the human is constituted and deconstituted’.58 Without idealising the inhuman, this perspective points to the outside as the site from where the inside can be relativised, questioned, and changed, but also sustained, since the inhuman is inevitably part of the human—the human is constituted by the inhuman, by the unknowable. Kafka’s short tale depicts Odradek in an ambiguous manner, as being and not being human, but it is pervaded by tenderness towards this creature. The question that arises is: what would happen if Odradek asked explicitly to count as human? What would happen is what does happen in the tragedy of Antigone. Sophocles tells the story of the aftermath of the fratricide fight between Antigone’s brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles. Both are killed in the battle, and Creon, their uncle, ascends to the throne of Thebes, decreeing that Polyneices not be buried or even mourned, on pain of death. Antigone occupies in this setting a monstrous and aberrant place, not only because she is the offspring of Oedipus’ incest, and is therefore both daughter and sister of her father, and sister and aunt of her brothers, nor because she is related by kin to a murderous crime, but also—and more importantly—because she defies Creon’s law and claims her right to mourn and bury Polyneices. This gesture is what Butler identifies as a performative catachresis of the human, as the operation of a catachrestic human.59 Antigone is a creature classified as nonhuman or less than human that claims her right to be human, her right to have rights, borrowing Arendt’s famous expression.60 She does so by speaking and acting as human, in its language and in its space, when she is not recognised as such and when she is excluded from that entitlement. In this way, Antigone forces the human to enter into catachresis; that is, she dismisses the human’s up to then alleged proper usage and upsets its vocabulary. This catachresis is also described by Butler as a ‘performative contradiction’61 between two antithetic senses of the human: ‘the normative one based on radical exclusion and the one that emerges in the sphere of the excluded’;62 the human from which Antigone is being excluded and the human that Antigone claims to be. When Antigone raises her voice in the public space from where she is nevertheless banished, she is exposing the limits and the contradictory character of the current formulation of the human. At the same time, in claiming her rights, she instigates the formulation of a more expansive and inclusive notion of the human. For Butler, this catachresis is not just an exceptional case, but the very functioning of the figure of the human that she wants to recuperate: this notion, precisely because of its catachrestic nature, will always be open-ended, will never find an adequate and definitive codification.63 This open-endedness, this permanent catachresis, impropriety—or performative contradiction—far from being a liability, is indeed what, for Butler, makes of the human a tool for emancipation and liberation instead of for subjection.64 According to Butler, the category of the human grants to those considered to comply with it the right to live a livable life.65 If many subjects are currently deprived of this entitlement, it is because they do not count as humans. The problem that motivates Butler’s engagement with the human is not, then, that humans are tired of being human, constrained by a rigid nature and wanting to be something else—for example, post-human or trans-human. Rather, the problem is that there are beings excluded from humanity and classified as monstrous. Butler indicates that the nonhuman is condemned to not matter66 in the double sense of the word: to be unimportant and to lack materiality, to be unintelligible and, furthermore, unreal, spectral.67 For Butler, Odradek and Antigone have the same unreal condition as Guantanamo prisoners, sans-papiers, refugees, or queer people. In this context, the notion of the catachrestic human reveals itself as a fundamental battlefield where the invisible may become visible and where the rights of the disenfranchised can be laid claim to. IV. MIS-BEING IN ÉTIENNE BALIBAR Balibar’s recent work has undertaken the project of reopening the case of the human after the controversy against humanism. In particular, Balibar defends the importance of rethinking and reassessing the questions raised by philosophical anthropology for our present times.68 He acknowledges that his position is rare in France,69 but he promotes it as an effective response to the current conjuncture of the world, which is different from that of the anti-humanist period.70 This conjuncture testifies to a proliferation of what Balibar calls cruelty or ‘extreme violence’;71 that is, an excessive development to which no symmetric counter-power or counter-violence can be opposed without worsening it. For Balibar, the only way to confront this extreme violence is to invoke the human as a limit to it, to declare this violence—using Foucault’s expression—intolerable72 in the name of humanity, ‘incompatible with “human” existence, which it threatens with death, misery, or abjection’.73 This is, therefore, the rationale for a philosophical anthropology that, consequently, has no positive ground or foundation in a human essence or nature, but is generated through its encounter with a purely external and negative limit incarnated in forms of extreme violence.74 From this perspective, the human and the inhuman are intimately connected, as we saw already with Butler: inhumanity is that ‘without which the very idea of humanity and the humane would be meaningless’.75 The philosophical anthropology that Balibar puts forward is hence less concerned with constructing a consistent category of the human than with testing its limits, its relation to the unrepresentable.76 Balibar distinguishes between humanism, which works under the assumption that there are only two possible understandings of the human, either as an essence or nature, or as a condition or pure existence, and anthropology, which proposes an alternative to humanism through a conception of the human in terms of relations.77 While both humanist options provide an equally abstract notion of the human, Balibar’s anthropology, inspired by Spinoza, Marx, and the politics of human rights, aims to address the singularity and differences that inform humans through their relations. This anthropology of relations detects a ‘minimal human nature’78 not in a general form or feature, but in what Balibar calls the ‘transindividual’,79 that is, the individual understood as always already constituted by its relations to others. This was precisely Marx’s definition of the essence of ‘man’ [sic], a quote that Balibar cites on numerous occasions as the point of departure for his anthropological perspective: ‘the essence of man is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations’.80 This ensemble of relations and the human that results from it must not be understood as a whole or closed totality, but as an open, changing, and indefinitely extendable network. Furthermore, Balibar associates transindividuality with what Spinoza called the ‘incompressible minimum’81 and portrays it as that which extreme violence cannot obliterate, meaning it is the site for a political response to violence: ‘individuality itself is transindividual … what grounds both individuals’ capacity to resist violence and, quite simply, their “being” is the whole set of relations that they maintain at all times with other individuals who “are a part of themselves” as they “are part” of the being of others’.82 This peculiar interpretation of the anthropological standpoint has been described as an ‘anthropology without metaphysics’,83 a ‘post-philosophical anthropology’,84 and a relationality built less on the models of substance and the anthropologia perennis than on the figures of the aporia and the incompleteness.85 Yet, the result of this is not the death of the human or even a merely negative notion of the human, but an understanding of the human as a continuous exercise of constitution and destitution, as an undulatory movement of construction and deconstruction that challenges the binary opposition between monolithic identity and pure fragmentation.86 Balibar devotes a significant part of his research to unveiling the genealogy of this conception of the human, and insists that it is not an a-historic idea but a typically modern creation that results from a process with three main milestones: subjectus, subjectum, and citizen. The twofold etymology of the term ‘subject’—from the Latin subjectus (masculine) and subjectum (neuter)—allows Balibar to unravel two different stages in the constitution of subjectivity.87 Initially, subjects thought of themselves as subjectus—that is, subditus—subjects subjected to an external authority: God, the sovereign, and the like. Modernity challenged this subjugation by erecting a model of subjectivity based on the idea of subjectum, which, from the Greek hypokeimenon, means support, ground, or foundation. The subject became a first principle, its own master. When postmodernity declares the death of the subject, it attacks the subjectum, the sovereign and self-sufficient subject, which is denounced as an ideological construction. But this declaration does not entail the end of the story of the human. Balibar situates another figure after the subject: the citizen. The citizen is defined by her rights and duties; that is, is defined transindividually and relationally in and through the institutions that give birth to her. This figure, according to Balibar, finds its origin in the transition from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, when the model of the subject (subjectus-subjectum) is gradually displaced in benefit of an image of the human as a process of continuous institutional creation and recreation. To be human and to be a citizen amount to the same. The citizen incarnates a humanity constituted through what Balibar calls ‘Arendt’s theorem’: ‘it is not man [sic] who makes the institution, but the institution that makes (or, depending on the case, unmakes) man’.88 The human is thus a performative product of a certain configuration of citizenship; those who do not comply with the requisites of that citizenship will not qualify as humans. Balibar’s thesis is that these different conceptions of the subject and the human, although antithetical in their connotations of constraint—subjectus—and freedom—subjectum—do not describe in practice a ‘linear succession or a teleological transformation’,89 but haunt and overdetermine each other. Even if the notion of citizen aims to implement a political universe of equal and inclusive rights, everyday experience bears witness to the persistence of the figure of the subjectus; that is, the persistence of inequalities, dominations, and exclusions. Balibar uses the term ‘malêtre’ (mis-being) to designate the permanently constructed, deconstructed, and reconstructed condition of the human conceived as citizen, the incompleteness and impropriety of its realisation—always threatened by the subjectus—the fact that it is an ‘unfinished, precarious, and insufficient’90 human that never fully recognises itself. The condition of mis-being is the consequence of the human’s relationality: humans are not merely subjects ‘“of’” a relation, subjects that enter into relations, but are in themselves relations, the result of relations.91 This entails that they do not have an essence but are ‘unstable, perpetually changing in … configuration’,92 and incorporate the possibility of a multiplicity of transformations. This is the reason why Balibar speaks of a certain malformation or monstrosity of the human: the malêtre is an Unwesen, which in German also means monster. Even if the monster does not conform to a type, norm, or substance, it is not a pure privation or negation, but rather is the erratic and improper result of a network of relations. In other words, it is not the negation of being but a failed, improper being, always in the making.93 Balibar builds his concept of mis-being on John Locke’s notion of uneasiness: the uneasy subject is ‘the subject affected with uneasiness concerning her own humanness’.94 This uneasiness, for Balibar, is irreducible, and as much as it is what makes the category of the human fail once and again, it is also the drive and the source for its resignifications, for fighting against reductionist versions of it. Uneasiness constitutes and simultaneously destitutes the human, and in destituting it, is thus ‘the site … of displacement, de-identification, and alternative normativity’.95 The mis-being of the human is especially clear in what Balibar calls ‘anthropological differences’, which are not the particular differences between individuals, but the dissymmetry of their relations. These differences separate humans through mobile frontiers that cannot be fixed and represented neatly, through lines of cleavage that are contestable, but not eliminable or avoidable; they are ‘at once irreducible and indeterminable’.96 It is impossible to imagine the human deprived of these differences, but they are also impossible to localise and define without inflicting an extreme violence. The main problem with them is that they are often translated into exclusions and discriminations, even in societies that are supposed to be based on the principle of equality. Balibar provides as examples of these anthropological differences race, sex, and normality/abnormality. On the one hand, anthropological differences are that which the universality of rights and equality aims to obliterate—we should all be equal regardless of our sex; on the other hand, however, anthropological differences are the place, or rather the ‘other scene’97 neglected by the predominant view, where exclusion can be denounced, and where identities at play can be challenged and replaced with alternative ones, the place where blind spots can be brought to light.98 This last manoeuvre is realised through the enactment of a performative contradiction—to use Butler’s concept—that happens when the voices of those excluded make themselves heard. Balibar appeals to the examples of Mary Wollstonecraft and Frantz Fanon, which play the same role in his theory as Odradek and Antigone in Butler’s. Wollstonecraft’s and Fanon’s denunciations exposed the contradiction of an alleged universality that was excluding a large portion of humanity: women and black people. While Butler resorted to the trope of catachresis to explain how the human is unmade and remade in the performative contradiction, Balibar uses two additional tropes: ‘the synecdoche of the universal in the difference between sexes and the double bind of utterance’.99 Wollstonecraft unmasks how the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’ uses paradoxically certain words, such as ‘man’, holding that they are universal when in fact they only refer to a limited part of humanity. In using the term ‘man’ equivocally in her text, both as a generic for ‘human’ and as referring to males, she puts into play a synecdoche of the universal that reveals its contradictions. Fanon for his part shows how the false universality of the white man throws the black man into abjection and a double bind. To oppose this, Fanon uses ‘man’ to designate both the denatured and phantasmatic humanity of whites and a generic and egalitarian conception of humanity. Wollstonecraft’s and Fanon’s performative interventions—and mis-being in general—disrupt the ontology of the human,100 in a similar vein as Antigone and Odradek provoke an ontological insurrection. This disruption, however, is not just an interruption of an otherwise normal humanity, but the revelation of its very essence, or rather mis-essence. We ultimately are all Unwesens, Odradeks, and Antigones. Forgetting our condition of mis-being generates the illusion of a proper being and, as a consequence, discriminations and violence. In order to prevent this, the borders of the human must be kept in motion. V. A MINIMUM ANTHROPOLOGY In conclusion, Butler and Balibar portray the human as a processual and relational instance with permeable frontiers, focusing on the becoming-human of the nonhuman and vice versa. They both formulate a minimum anthropology articulated around the need to expose and fight both the excess and the defect of human essence. If the human is essentialised or naturalised, it can be used as a mechanism to control and normalise; if the human is simply relinquished, then contesting extreme violence and precarity becomes an almost impossible task. Showing and reminding us that the human is always a precarious drawing in the sand is thus crucial to challenge the notion of a fixed human essence. Conversely, the appeal to a minimum anthropology—even if it is catachrestic, a mis-being, and purely relational—prevents the human from dissolving into fragments useless in the claim for human rights and a livable life. This minimum anthropology aims thus to provide a number of elements to refigure the drawing in the sand. In short, these anthropologies depict a peculiar human being: a permanently catachrestic human (mis)being; a human after all, but never all too human, forced to play in the sand indefinitely.101 REFERENCES Footnotes 1 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things. An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (London: Routledge, 1970), p. 422. 2 For a detailed account of Foucault’s anti-humanism, see Béatrice Han-Pile, ‘The “Death of Man”: Foucault and Anti-Humanism’, in Timothy O’Leary and Christopher Falzon (eds), Foucault and Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010), pp. 118–42. 3 Béatrice Han-Pile’s interpretation of Foucault’s late work on subjectivity and freedom as an implicit attempt to retain the emancipatory force of humanism while rejecting its metaphysical content (Ibid., pp. 136–7) bears witness too, albeit from a different perspective, of an oscillatory movement between critique and construction with regard to the human. 4 Balibar’s concept of mis-being (malêtre) appears in his book Citoyen sujet et autres essais d’anthropologie philosophique (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2011). This book has recently been translated into English with a slightly different (and stronger) subtitle: Étienne Balibar, Citizen Subject: Foundations for Philosophical Anthropology, trans. Steven Miller (New York: Fordham University, 2017). Here, Steven Miller translates malêtre as ‘ill-being’ (p. 257); however, I translate it as mis-being because the prefix ‘mis’ does not have the pathological connotations of ‘ill’ and maintains the plurivocity of ‘mal’ in French; that is, both the sense of wrong, incorrect, mistaken, and the aspect of trouble and disruption. This also conforms to the translation of the term in Irving Goh, The Reject: Community, Politics, and Religion after the Subject (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015), p. 171. 5 See Louis Althusser, ‘The Humanist Controversy’, in The Humanist Controversy and Other Writings (1966–1967), ed. François Matheron, trans. G.M. Goshgarian (London: Verso, 2003), pp. 221–305. 6 See, for example, Ann V. Murphy, ‘Corporeal Vulnerability and the New Humanism’, Hypatia 26 (2011) 575–90; and Sina Kramer, ‘Judith Butler’s “New Humanism”. A Thing or Not a Thing, and So What?’, philoSOPHIA 5 (2015) 25–40. 7 Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation, trans. Denis Savage (London: Yale University Press, 1970), p. 35. 8 Peter E. Gordon, Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (London: Harvard University Press, 2012), p. 200. 9 For a detailed account of Heidegger’s relationship to humanism and his critique of the notion of the human, see Gavin Rae, ‘Re-Thinking the Human: Heidegger, Fundamental Ontology, and Humanism’, Human Studies 33 (2010) 23–39. 10 Martin Heidegger, ‘Letter on Humanism’, in Basic Writings: From Being and Time (1927) to The Task of Thinking (1964), ed. David Farrell Krell (London: Harper Perennial, 2008), p. 219. 11 Balibar presents the anti-humanist controversy as mainly fought in two foundational scenes: a German scene, conducted by Heidegger, and a French scene, dominated by Lévi-Strauss. This is the map he traces in his lecture ‘Anti-Humanism, and the Question of Philosophical Anthropology’, pronounced on the 17 May 2012, at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London. Available online at: http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2012/05/etienne-balibar-anti-humanism-and-the-question-of-philosophical-anthropology/. 12 Claude Lévi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, trans. Claire Jacobson and Brooke Grundfest Schoepf (New York: Basic Books, 1963), p. 80. 13 Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954–1955, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Sylvana Tomaselli (London: W.W. Norton, 1991), p. 167. 14 Foucault, The Order of Things, p. 414. 15 Althusser, The Humanist Controversy, p. 271. 16 Vincent Descombes, Modern French Philosophy, trans. Lorna Scott-Fox and Jeremy M. Harding (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), pp. 103–9; François Dosse, History of Structuralism, Volume 1: The Rising Sign, 1945–1966, trans. Deborah Glassman (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), pp. 306–8. 17 See the criticisms addressed against anti-humanism in Luc Ferry and Alain Renault, French Philosophy of the Sixties. An Essay on Antihumanism, trans. Mary H.S. Cattani (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1990). Similar objections and concerns were raised within feminism. See Seyla Benhabib et al., Feminist Contentions: A Philosophical Exchange (London: Routledge, 1995) and Linda J. Nicholson (ed.), Feminism/Postmodernism (London: Routledge, 1990). 18 See Bertrand Ogilvie, La seconde nature du politique. Essai d’anthropologie négative (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2012), p. 21. 19 Samuel Beckett, ‘Worstward Ho’, in Nohow On (London: John Calder, 1991), p. 101. 20 Louis Althusser, For Marx, trans. Ben Brewster (London: Verso, 2005), pp. 231, 247. 21 Murphy, ‘Corporeal Vulnerability and the New Humanism’; Inge Arteel, ‘Judith Butler and the Catachretic Human’, in Andy Mousley (ed.), Towards a New Literary Humanism (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 77–90; Birgit Schippers, The Political Philosophy of Judith Butler (London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 38–58. 22 Kramer, ‘Judith Butler’s “New Humanism”. A Thing or Not a Thing, and So What?’. 23 Drew Walker, ‘Two Regimes of the Human: Butler and the Politics of Mattering’, in Moya Lloyd (ed.), Butler and Ethics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), pp. 141–66; Mari Ruti, ‘The Ethics of Precarity: Judith Butler’s Reluctant Universalism’, in Between Levinas and Lacan. Self, Other, Ethics (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), pp. 39–76. 24 Bonnie Honig, Antigone, Interrupted (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Bonnie Honig, ‘Antigone’s Two Laws: Greek Tragedy and the Politics of Humanism’, New Literary History 41 (2010) 1–33. 25 Ogilvie, La seconde nature du politique, p. 43. 26 See the special issue of the journal Raison Publique dedicated to his thinking under the title ‘Pourquoi Balibar?’: Raison Publique 19 (2014); see also Jason Read, ‘The “Other Scene” of Political Anthropology: Between Transindividuality and Equaliberty’, in Warren Montag and Hanan Elsayed (eds), Balibar and the Citizen Subject (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), pp. 111–31. 27 On the notion of violence, see Étienne Balibar, Violence and Civility: On the Limits of Political Philosophy, trans. G.M. Goshgarian (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015); on the notions of precariousness and precarity, see Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2004) and Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? (London: Verso, 2009). While precariousness names a generalised condition of the human, precarity refers, more specifically, to a politically induced condition, that is, to the differential distribution of precariousness—for example, the differential exposure to violence and death—across populations. 28 See, for example, Honig, Antigone Interrupted, pp. 43–6; and Jodi Dean, ‘Change of Address: Butler’s Ethics at Sovereignty’s Deadlock’, in Terrell Carver and Samuel Chambers (eds), Judith Butler’s Precarious Politics: Critical Encounters (London: Routledge, 2008), pp. 109–26. 29 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (London: Routledge, 1999 [1990]). 30 Catherine Mills, ‘Normative Violence, Vulnerability, and Responsibility’, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 18 (2007) 133; Moya Lloyd (ed.), Butler and Ethics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015). 31 Judith Butler and William Connolly, ‘Politics, Power and Ethics: A Discussion between Judith Butler and William Connolly’, Theory & Event 4 (2000). Available online at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/32589; Judith Butler, ‘Ethical Ambivalence’, in Marjorie Garber et al. (eds), The Turn to Ethics (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 15–28; and Judith Butler and Emma Ingala, ‘Judith Butler: A Living Engagement with Politics’, Isegoría 56 (2017) 27–8. 32 Judith Butler, Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (London: Harvard University Press, 2015), pp. 26–7. For an account of the relationship between performativity and precarity in Butler, see Emma Ingala, ‘From Hannah Arendt to Judith Butler: The Conditions of the Political’, in Gavin Rae and Emma Ingala (eds), Subjectivity and the Political: Contemporary Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2018), pp. 35–53. 33 Butler, Precarious Life, p. xi. 34 Judith Butler, Senses of the Subject (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015), p. 4. 35 I take the idea of impropriety from Bertrand Ogilvie’s formulation of an ‘anthropology of the improper’ for an inevitably improper human order. See Ogilvie, La seconde nature du politique, p. 43. 36 ‘It is … an insurrection at the level of ontology.’ Butler, Precarious Life, p. 33. I thank Tim Huzar for pointing out to me the importance of this gesture of insurrection and for formulating, in his doctoral thesis Themes of Visibility in Rancière, Butler and Cavarero (University of Brighton, 2017), the concept of an ‘insurrectional humanism’ to describe Butler’s position. 37 I take this notion from Butler’s engagement with Hannah Arendt. See Butler, Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, pp. 99–122. 38 Judith Butler, Undoing Gender (London: Routledge, 2004), p. 35. 39 Butler, Precarious Life, p. 151. 40 Ibid. 41 Butler, Undoing Gender, p. 190. 42 Judith Butler and Fina Birulés, ‘Interview with Judith Butler: “Gender is Extramoral”’, Monthly Review Online (2009). Available online at: https://mronline.org/2009/05/16/interview-with-judith-butler-gender-is-extramoral/. 43 Pierpaolo Antonello and Roberto Farneti, ‘Antigone’s Claim: A Conversation with Judith Butler’, Theory & Event 12 (2000). Available online at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/263144. 44 Ibid. 45 Butler, Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, p. 68. 46 Judith Butler, ‘Afterword’, in VV. AA. The Humanities in Human Rights: Critique, Language, Politics, PMLA 121 (2006) 1660. 47 Antonello and Farneti, ‘Antigone’s Claim: A Conversation with Judith Butler’. 48 Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), p. 111. 49 Inge Arteel has formulated the idea of a ‘catachretic human’ and has analysed, although from a different perspective, Butler’s readings of Antigone and Odradek. See Arteel, ‘Judith Butler and the Catachretic Human’. 50 Judith Butler, Antigone’s Claim: Kinship between Life and Death (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), pp. 81–2; Arteel, ‘Judith Butler and the Catachretic Human’, pp. 85–9. 51 Butler may have found inspiration in Jacques Derrida’s and Gayatri Spivak’s reflections on catachresis. See Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass (Brighton: The Harvester Press, 1982), pp. 235–44; and Gayatri C. Spivak, ‘Poststructuralism, Marginality, Postcoloniality and Value’, in Peter Collier and Helga Geyer-Ryan (eds), Literary Theory Today (London: Polity Press, 1990), pp. 198–222. 52 Spivak, ‘Poststructuralism, Marginality, Postcoloniality and Value’, p. 220. 53 Franz Kafka, ‘The Cares of a Family Man’, in The Complete Stories, trans. Willa and Edwin Muir (New York: Schocken Books, 1971), pp. 427–9. 54 Ibid., p. 428. 55 Ibid. 56 Ibid. 57 Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself, pp. 61–2, 105–7. 58 Ibid., p. 105. 59 Butler, Antigone’s Claim, pp. 81–2. 60 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1973 [1958]), pp. 296–8; Butler, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, pp. 48–9, 80. 61 For the notion of performative contradiction, see Judith Butler, ‘Universality in Culture’, in Joshua Cohen and Martha C. Nussbaum (eds), For Love of Country? (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2002), pp. 47–8. 62 Butler, Antigone’s Claim, p. 81. 63 Butler, ‘Universality in Culture’, p. 48. 64 ‘For someone to say that a person who is considered non-human is, in fact, human means a resignifcation of humanness and emphasises that humanness can work in another form. On occasions it is important to use the term precisely in the way that the Human Rights discourse sometimes does: taking someone to whom the defining characteristics of humanness are not attributed and affirming that person is human is a performative act that redefines humanness in terms of liberation, as emancipation. It is not a question of searching for what was already there, but of making it happen’. Butler and Birulés, ‘Interview with Judith Butler: “Gender is Extramoral”’. 65 Butler, Precarious Life, p. 146. 66 Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter. On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ (New York: Routledge, 1993), p. xxiv. 67 Butler, Senses of the Subject, p. 175. 68 In 2010, Balibar published the volume Violence et civilité with a concluding chapter entitled ‘Après-coup. Sur les limites de l’anthropologie politique’, translated as ‘Après-Coup: The Limits of Political Anthropology’. The problem of anthropology became the core of the collection of texts issued the following year, in 2011: Citoyen sujet et autres essais d’anthropologie philosophique. However, Balibar had already addressed the question of philosophical anthropology in previous works. In 1989, he contributed to a special issue of Cahiers confrontation (Étienne Balibar, ‘Citoyen sujet. Réponse a la question de Jean-Luc Nancy: Qui vient après le sujet?’, Cahiers confrontation 20 (1989) 23–47, which was initially published in 1988 in the Italian journal Topoi, and republished in Citizen Subject, pp. 19–39) responding to Jean-Luc Nancy’s question ‘who comes after the subject?’; in 2003 and 2009, he contributed to two special issues of the journal differences, titled ‘On Humanism’ and ‘The Future of the Human’, with the articles ‘Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?’ (differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 14 (2003) 1–21) and ‘Violence and Civility: On the Limits of Political Anthropology’ (differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 20 (2009) 9–35) respectively. 69 Étienne Balibar et al., ‘L’anthropologie philosophique et l’anthropologie historique en débat. Entretien entre Étienne Balibar & Gunter Gebauer’, Rue Descartes 75 (2012) 82. In this interview (pp. 92, 96), Balibar acknowledges that he has an ambiguous relationship with anthropological discourse: on the one hand, he insists that he does not do anthropology himself but rather that his is a second order interest, a critique and a genealogy of anthropology; however, on the other hand, he admits that he tries to develop and use anthropological discourse, proposing a certain codification or problematisation of the question of the human. As he puts it in Citizen Subject, he offers ‘not a positive program of “philosophical anthropology”, but a discussion of its stakes, its heritages, and its aporias’ (Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 5). 70 Étienne Balibar, ‘The Infinite Contradiction’, Yale French Studies 88 (1995) 144. 71 Balibar, Violence and Civility, pp. xii–xiii. 72 Michel Foucault, ‘Je perçois l’intolérable’, in Dits et écrits 1954–1988, vol. II (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), pp. 203–5. 73 Balibar, Violence and Civility, p. 159. 74 Ibid., p. xiii. 75 Ibid., p. 131. 76 Balibar, ‘Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?’, pp. 3–4, 10–11. 77 Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 16; Étienne Balibar, ‘Foucault’s Point of Heresy: “Quasi-Transcendentals” and the Transdisciplinary Function of the Episteme’, Theory, Culture & Society 32 (2015) 46. See also Balibar, ‘Anti-Humanism, and the Question of Philosophical Anthropology’, where he affirms the following: ‘the death of man does not imply the impossibility of a critical anthropology of relations’. 78 Balibar, Violence and Civility, p. 16. 79 Balibar, Ibid., p. 138. See also Read, ‘The “Other Scene” of Political Anthropology: Between Transindividuality and Equaliberty’, where the notion is tracked back to Gilbert Simondon (p. 112). 80 Karl Marx, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Collected Works, vol. 5 (New York: International Publishers, 1976) p. 7; Étienne Balibar, The Philosophy of Marx, trans. Chris Turner (London: Verso, 1995), p. 27; Balibar, Citizen Subject, pp. 299–300. 81 Balibar, Violence and Civility, p. 138. 82 Ibid. See also Louis Carré, ‘Violence, institutions, “politique de la civilité”. Étienne Balibar et les enjeux d’une “anthropologie politique”’, Raison Publique 19 (2014) 32–3. 83 Diogo Sardinha, ‘La contribution d’Étienne Balibar à une anthropologie sans métaphysique’, Raison Publique 19 (2014) 69–80. 84 Diogo Sardinha and Roberto Nigro, in Balibar et al., ‘L’anthropologie philosophique et l’anthropologie historique en débat. Entretien entre Étienne Balibar & Gunter Gebauer’, p. 81. 85 Balibar, ‘The Infinite Contradiction’, p. 146; Carré, ‘Violence, institutions, “politique de la civilité”’, pp. 24, 33. 86 According to Balibar, structuralism is responsible for destituting the previous notions of the subject and the human and putting in their place not a new version, but the very exercise of constitution and destitution. See Balibar, ‘Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?’, p. 10; Carré, ‘Violence, institutions, “politique de la civilité”’, p. 33. 87 Étienne Balibar et al., ‘Subject’, in Barbara Cassin (ed.), Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon (Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2014), pp. 1069–91. 88 Étienne Balibar, Equaliberty: Political Essays, trans. James Ingram (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), p. 315. 89 Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 4. 90 Ibid. 91 Ibid., p. 299. 92 Ibid., p. 301. 93 Ibid. See also Balibar, ‘Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?’, p. 10. 94 Étienne Balibar, ‘Civic Universalism and Its Internal Exclusions: The Issue of Anthropological Difference’, boundary 2 39 (2012) 227. 95 Ibid., p. 229. 96 Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 16. See also p. 292; Balibar et al., ‘L’anthropologie philosophique et l’anthropologie historique en débat. Entretien entre Étienne Balibar & Gunter Gebauer’, pp. 99–100; and Balibar, ‘Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?’, p. 16. 97 Balibar borrows this expression from Freud. See Étienne Balibar, Politics and the Other Scene, trans. Christine Jones, James Swenson and Chris Turner (London: Verso, 2011), p. vii. 98 Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 302. 99 Balibar, Citoyen sujet, p. 478 (this sentence is missing in the English translation). 100 Balibar, Citizen Subject, p. 286. Balibar uses in French the verb déranger, which has been translated as ‘disorient’. If we maintain the disruptive sense of this gesture, it is easy to see its link with Butler’s insurrection. 101 I would like to thank Gavin Rae, Anna Fisk, and Alana Vincent for their careful reading and feedback on an earlier draft. This paper forms part of the activities for the research projects ‘Pensamiento y representación literaria y artística digital ante la crisis de Europa y el Mediterráneo’, funded by Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Banco Santander (reference number PR26/16-6B-3), and ‘Naturaleza Humana y Comunidad III: ¿Actualidad del humanismo e inactualidad del hombre?’, funded by the Spanish Ministry of the Economy and Competitivity (reference number FFI2013-46815-P). © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press 2018; all rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Published: May 30, 2018

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