Balibar’s consideration of Althusser’s notion of dramaturgy suggests that we might rethink conventional ways of understanding ideology. Althusser works out his views on dramaturgy through an engagement with Brecht, and so it makes sense to consider how Benjamin’s reading of Brecht offers an alternative point of view. Benjamin’s focus on gesture offers concrete ways of reconceptualizing both identification and disidentification. Read together with his critique of legal violence, one can also see how the gesture displays and arrests the destructive power of the state. Benjamin thus introduces a way to think about state violence through a dramaturgical formulation of ideology.
judith butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in Comparative Literature and Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of several books, including most recently Senses of the Subject (Fordham University Press, 2015) and Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (Harvard University Press, 2015).
Judith Butler; Theatrical Machines. differences 1 November 2015; 26 (3): 23–42. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-3340336
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