Not all lives are equal! In colonial times, slaves and indigenous people were prohibited from carrying weapons or defending themselves, unlike slave owners and colonial masters. What are the origins of this historical divide between those bodies deemed “deserving of protection” and the defenceless, this organised disarming of the oppressed, from which any liberating act only leads to the question of violence? Tracing the histories of the slave resistance, the Black Panthers and Queer Patrols, the jiu-jitsu of the suffragettes and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Elsa Dorlin presents a genealogy of self-defence in her award-winning book.
For every official historical account of self-defence there is a “martial ethics of the self”, an overlooked practice that sees attack as the only means of defence in order to guarantee survival and safeguard a political future. This other history of violence gives rise to a new definition of modern subjectivity and current security policy. Such a history makes way for a new interpretation of political philosophy, one where Hobbes and Locke have fervent and fascinating discussions with Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Malcolm X, June Jordan or Judith Butler.
born 1974, is Professor of Philosophy at the Université de Paris VIII Vincennes – Saint Denis. She has been named one of the leading contemporary French feminist theorists and has received, among others, the Médaille de bronze du Centre national de la recherche scientifique for her research.
Se défendre. Une philosophie de la violence was awarded the Frantz Fanon Prize 2018 and the Prix de l’Écrit Social 2019.