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Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity
1990, Routledge.
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion
Publisher’s Note:

One of the most talked-about scholarly works of the past fifty years, Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble is as celebrated as it is controversial. Arguing that traditional feminism is wrong to look to a natural, 'essential' notion of the female, or indeed of sex or gender, Butler starts by questioning the category 'woman' and continues in this vein with examinations of 'the masculine' and 'the feminine'. Best known however, but also most often misinterpreted, is Butler's concept of gender as a reiterated social performance rather than the expression of a prior reality. Thrilling and provocative, few other academic works have roused passions to the same exten

Comment: Judith Pamela Butler is an American philosopher and gender theorist whose work has influenced political philosophy, ethics, and the fields of third-wave feminist, queer, and literary theory. In 1993, Butler began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, where they have served, beginning in 1998, as the Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory. They are also the Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School. In Gender Trouble Butler argues that gender is a kind of improvised performance. The work is influential in feminism, women's studies, and lesbian and gay studies, and has also enjoyed widespread popularity outside of traditional academic circles. Butler's ideas about gender came to be seen as foundational to queer theory and the advancing of dissident sexual practices during the 1990s. In this chapter, Butler critically assesses central literatures that have sought to define and illuminate gender and sexuality; in doing so, they lay the groundwork for their subsequent critique of hegemonic depictions of gender binaries.

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Cooper, Leonie. Joe Corré, Son of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, On Why He’s Burning His £5 Million Punk Collection
2016, NME, 18th March 2016
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Added by: Quentin Pharr and Clotilde Torregrossa
Abstract: This week [18th March 2016], Joe Corré, son of punk provocateurs Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood proved that rebellion runs in the family. In response to the ongoing Punk London year of events, gigs, films, talks, exhibits, celebrating 40 years of punk – which Joe claims has been endorsed by the Queen – has announced his plans to burn his £5 million collection of punk memorabilia this November 26, on the 40th anniversary of the release of the Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy In The UK’. NME visited Joe at his London HQ to find out more.

Comment: This news item is an interview with Joe Corré, son of British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, former manager of the Sex Pistols. In response to the 2016 events celebrating '40 years of Punk' in London, Corré announced he would burn his collection of punk artefacts, estimated to be worth £5 million (he did end up burning it on a barge on the Thames). In this interview, Corré discusses how the punk aesthetic has been appropriated by the very people and institutions that the punk movement was against - the establishment. For Corré, his collection is only worth £5 million because of the mainstream appropriation that punk has undergone - for him these items are worthless, they barely even have sentimental value. But equally, Corré, a very wealthy man himself (he co-founded the lingerie brand Agent Provocateur and sold it to private equity for £60 million), has come under fire for his decision to burn the items rather than give them to charity. As such, this piece is an interesting case study that illustrates the mechanics of class appropriation of fashion as discussed by Crane. But it can also be discussed in reference to the People's History Museum virtual exhibition from week 6, as perhaps Corré's judgement that these items are not worthy of preservation and display is itself clouded by class privilege.

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Nguyen, C. Thi, Strohl, Matthew. Cultural Appropriation and the Intimacy of Groups
2019, Philosophical Studies, 176: 981–1002
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Added by: Quentin Pharr and Clotilde Torregrossa
Abstract: What could ground normative restrictions concerning cultural appropriation which are not grounded by independent considerations such as property rights or harm? We propose that such restrictions can be grounded by considerations of intimacy. Consider the familiar phenomenon of interpersonal intimacy. Certain aspects of personal life and interpersonal relationships are afforded various protections in virtue of being intimate. We argue that an analogous phenomenon exists at the level of large groups. In many cases, members of a group engage in shared practices that contribute to a sense of common identity, such as wearing certain hair or clothing styles or performing a certain style of music. Participation in such practices can generate relations of group intimacy, which can ground certain prerogatives in much the same way that interpersonal intimacy can. One such prerogative is making what we call an appropriation claim. An appropriation claim is a request from a group member that non-members refrain from appropriating a given element of the group’s culture. Ignoring appropriation claims can constitute a breach of intimacy. But, we argue, just as for the prerogatives of interpersonal intimacy, in many cases there is no prior fact of the matter about whether the appropriation of a given cultural practice constitutes a breach of intimacy. It depends on what the group decides together.

Comment: This article presents a thorough discussion of the competing interests surrounding cultural appropriation and one promising explanation of why it amounts to a harm or wrong based on the notion of intimacy - in particular, breaches of group intimacy. Although this explanation is just one of many that might be given, the hope is that readers will find tools for thinking about the previous items from this week's selections and for developing their own views on cultural appropriation.

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