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Becoming stronger by becoming weaker: the hunger strike as a mode of doing politics
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2019 (English)In: Journal of International Relations and Development, ISSN 1408-6980, E-ISSN 1581-1980, Vol. 22, no 4, p. 882-898Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Drawing on Judith Butler’s work and a series of studies associated with actor–network theory (ANT), this paper engages with political agency through the concept of performativity. Based on the empirical analysis of a hunger strike that took place in Brussels in 2012 and involved 23 illegal immigrants, we aim to achieve three things. First, we foreground physical bodies as political entities caught up in multiple modes of doing politics. Second, we show how such modes relate to one another, reinforcing citizenship, activism and party politics as specific performances of agency associated with liberal democracy. Finally, we argue that the Brussels hunger strike also challenges these performances by failing to meet certain expectations about what it is to be political/act politically. As the European refugee crisis is generating louder and louder voices, hunger strikes sensitise us to modes of doing that work by becoming passive, silent, weak and vulnerable. Such processes, we suggest, expand the standard repertoire of modes of doing and may refigure our understanding of the interaction between transnational and liberal democratic politics—in International Relations, ANT and beyond.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 22, no 4, p. 882-898
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-396930DOI: 10.1057/s41268-018-0140-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-396930DiVA, id: diva2:1369498
Available from: 2019-11-12 Created: 2019-11-12 Last updated: 2019-11-12

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