Troubling Dominant Discourses: Developing A Framework Of Subversion And Applying It To Autonomous Activism
James, Julieanne C.
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My dissertation conducts a conceptual investigation into Judith Butler’s (1990/1999,1993) theory of performativity and Julia Kristeva’s (1982) theorizing on the abject. I use the concepts gleaned from my theoretical exploration to construct an analytical framework that offers ways of explaining the subversion of dominant discourses in the context of autonomous activism. The purpose of this endeavour is to develop a framework for how activist practices can be both more fully autonomous from – and more effectively subversive to – dominant discourses. I apply my framework to the autonomous elements within the Idle No More Movement in order to elucidate the subversive potential of this type of activism for subverting dominant discourses and how it can be strengthened. This application does not seek to define or analyze the movement itself, but rather to offer an explanation for the repression of autonomous-based activism within mainstream Canada. Overall, I find that activism within Western society is caught up in a discursive struggle whereby the suppression of social movements is enacted, in part, through a multitude of abjection processes that are executed through such practices as social interactions, psychological mechanisms, written text, and visual representations. In order to work against this abjection, I develop and present a subversive strategy that calls for the performative repetition of what is abject to dominant discourses.