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Performativity and Agency: the psychic dimension of identity

Grant number: 19/23375-6
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Master's degree
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2020
Effective date (End): December 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy
Principal researcher:Nathalie de Almeida Bressiani
Grantee:Michele Teixeira Bonote
Supervisor abroad: Amy Rebekah Allen
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências Naturais e Humanas (CCNH). Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC). Ministério da Educação (Brasil). Santo André , SP, Brazil
Research place: Pennsylvania State University, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:18/19391-3 - Performativity as critique. conceptual change in Judith Butler's critical theory, BP.MS


In Gender Trouble (1990), Judith Butler develops an understanding of gender identity as performativity to escape some impasses arising from the use of the category of "woman" in feminist theory. According to this understanding, substantive notions of identity, gender, and sex are linguistic "entities" constructed through the reiteration of power norms. Although performativity is presented as an alternative to an essentialist conception of identity, it's frequently criticized for suppressing the notion of the subject, that is, the suppression of the voice and the agency of the subjects that aim emancipatory transformations. In 1997, Butler writes The Psychic Life of Power, dedicated to analyze the process of subjectivation and how it amounts to an incorporation of a psychic and interior dimension of power. This research aims to analyze how Butler understand the process of identity formation in those two moments, focusing on their differences and on how the one developed in The Psychic Life of Power can be seen as a response to the critiques received. To do that, we will focus on the different readings of Freud (and psychoanalysis) made by Butler in both books and on how they allow different conceptions of agency, subjectivity and identity formation. (AU)

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