The Abject Other

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Adam GREARSON, McMaster University, Canada
This paper engages Judith Butler’s concept of bodies which are abject or illegitimate. Similar to the sociology of the body as a whole, the concept of the abject body is an ‘absent presence’. I divide this paper into four sections. Section one describes what an abject body is, comparing this body to its opposite: subjects. Section two identifies the bodies which are considered illegitimate, using the broad identity of marginalized bodies to suggest that individuals such as sexual and racialized minorities are illegitimated. With the intent to suggest that performativity is more than Butler’s notion of “doing” only gender, section three suggests how the concept of performance / performativity can be applied to these bodies through the lens of Erving Goffman and his analysis of stigma. Focusing on treatment, section four outlines how illegitimate bodies are “Othered” and further marginalized by the privileged individuals who share the status of subjects. Here I compare the abject “Other” to Georg Simmel’s concept of the stranger. I conclude by highlighting potential future research: I suggest that it would be very useful to investigate specific categories and intersections of abject bodies, including how racialized bodies can intersect with gendered bodies, disabled bodies, and the bodies of sexual minorities