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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The aim of this chapter is to present and re-read Judith Butler’s well-known performativity theory. The main argument advanced here is that, even though Butler’s work is widely viewed as instigating the field of queer studies, it is perhaps time to revisit performativity in order to queer it. The act of queering should be understood in the context of this chapter in two ways. First, it entails going against the sociolinguistic grain and troubling the linguistic core of performativity in a way that engages with “aspects of experience and reality that do not present themselves in propositional or even in verbal form” (Sedgwick 2003: 6), such as affect, embodiment, and the materiality of the built environment. The embodied and affective aspects of performativity are illustrated with the help of examples from gender and sexual activism in Israel, which show how multi-semiotic and sensory meanings are performatively brought into being in order to stake political claims. Second, queering performativity entails questioning the antinormative mantra encoded in the very notion of queer. This requires going back to a performative utterance par excellence—“I do” in wedding ceremonies—in order open up an uneasy self-reflection about (anti)normativity in queer scholarship.

Keywords: affect, (anti)normativity, embodiment, Israel/Palestine, materiality, queer, sexual activism

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