introduction
Freedom’s Amendments
Race, Sexuality, and Disposability
under the State Form
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It seems that violence, be it ‘‘private’’ or ‘‘public,’’ ‘‘domestic’’ or ‘‘international,’’
has been reaching a degree that the very idea of politics is destabilized, since this
idea was always associated with an overcoming (Aufhebung) of violence. So had
said Hobbes and Kant: ‘‘we must find a way out of it’’ (be it called Power, Law,
or Civilization). It seems that the ambivalency of violence ( . . . the difficulty of
identifying victims and oppressors [and] the difficulty of separating the positive and
negative kinds of violence) has reached such a degree that the traditional nega-
tions of violence (what we may call the strategy of non-violence and the strategy
of counter-violence) have lost the references they need to be meaningful (some
would say: ‘‘rational’’) political strategies.—ETIENNE BALIBAR, ‘‘Some Questions on
Politics and Violence’’
There is really nothing more to say—except why. But since why is difficult to
handle, one must take refuge in how.—TONI MORRISON, The Bluest Eye
There is a tradition that is catastrophe.—WALTER BENJAMIN, The Arcades Project
On October 28, 2009, not even a year into
his historic presidency, US President Ba-
rack Obama signed into law the National
Defense Authorization Act of 2010. It was
hailed as a decisive victory in the struggle
against violence directed at gays, lesbians,
bisexuals, and transgender and queer
people.∞ This was because Congress had
attached an amendment titled the Mat-
thew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate
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