This essay investigates how Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou’s recent work on dispossession and precarity might open up larger questions about normative human rights subjects and discourses. In place of the liberal subject of normative human rights, whose historical formation and legal incorporation have belied the universality of human rights, I argue that the ec-static subject—passionate, embodied, and relational—may offer an alternative foundation for what Hannah Arendt called “the right to claim rights.” M. Philip Nourbese’s long poem, Zong!, provides a context for exploring the ways in which the law has historically been used to deny human rights as well as the humanity of potential rights claimants. At the same time, in its active deconstruction of the law and discursive reinvention of the subjects the law denied, the poem conjures the political standing of ec-static subjects whose claims echo through history.


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pp. 166-189
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