Judith Butler, ‘Human Shield’ – lecture at LSE on 4 February 2015 (details)
Recent debates about human shields in the summer bombardment of Gaza raised the question of how the unarmed human form comes to be regarded as a military instrument. The lecture will consider how the perception of racialized bodies as threatening instruments informs both the public debates on the use of children as human shields in Gaza and the numerous figures of unarmed Black men and women in US cities who are gunned down either because they seem to be reaching for weapons or because their gestures, including their standing still, are regarded as weapons. In the context of the increasing militarization of police forces tasked with containing or eliminating social protest against social and economic inequality, how is racial perception both built and ratified through recasting the human form as threatening instrument? To what extent does the racialized structure of the visual field become instrumental to justifying the unjustifiable?