JBSP Online: Marieke Borren on the Politics of Vulnerability and “We-Can”

journal update

Now online & OPEN ACCESS a new article for the Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology by Marieke Borren.

Marieke Borren – “Resisting Bodies: Between the Politics of Vulnerability and ‘We-Can’”

JBSP (Received 04 May 2023, Accepted 12 Dec 2023, Published online: 11 Jan 2024).


Abstract: This article presents a critical phenomenology of embodiment in radical democratic struggles, focusing on racialized citizens inhabiting and navigating public spaces and on anti-racist protests. It contrasts the notion of the precarious body, central to critical theorists like Judith Butler, with an alternative phenomenological understanding, locating the political significance of the body in spontaneous movement (Arendt) and competence (Merleau-Ponty). Attending to either precariousness or mobile-capable bodies reveals distinct dimensions of radical democratic struggles. While precariousness addresses the unequal distribution of social-material conditions, it tends to overshadow the shared lived experience of freedom among citizens countering inhibitions of free movement, often motivated by their disproportionate exposure to precarious conditions in the first place. From a phenomenological perspective, public action is permitted by capable and mobile bodies. It is argued that public space opens the power of “we-can” bodies by soliciting citizens’ movement among others and their engagement in shared projects, according to their bodily capacities. Pluralistic interaction, aiming to maintain or create free spaces of movement, is presented as the political practice of freedom par excellence, exemplified by radical democratic walking practices in the Black civil rights movement.

Full article: https://doi.org/10.1080/00071773.2023.2296396

Marieke Borren, Faculty of Humanities, Open University Netherlands, Netherlands

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