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  • Self-exile in Translating Butlerian DiasporaTranslator's Notes
  • Nan Wang (bio)

In Parting Ways, Judith Butler takes up the question of how religion should function in the post-secular arena. She reconfigures religion as a form of ethical relationality, which both interrupts the original and bars the return to the original. Approaching Butler's Parting Ways has propelled me along a similar journey of dividing me from within. During the process of undoing my sense of who I am, I found myself displaced and translocated, yet capable of opening up the aporia. It dawns on me that Butler uses Jewish thought as a resource for reclaiming theology anew, similarly to the manner in which she theorized Antigone as resistance against the normality that privileges heterosexuality in Antigone's Claim: Kinship between Life and Death. I have undertaken the mission of translating Butler as a process of disseminating the original Butlerian subject of being split at the root. After translating Butler, I find this process may be one of embracing failure. This leads me to the question of what it means to be human. What lies in the present moment is no longer captured by abstract metaphysical claims, but rather by a focus on the precariousness of human life. Butler helps me to recognize that what is at stake in the post-secular world is not to legitimate new forms of violence, but to welcome the relational diasporic living in the world. [End Page 133]

Nan Wang

Nan Wang is professor of literary theory and comparative literature at Beijing Normal University. She has published Chinese translation of Judith Butler's Antigone's Claim: Kinship between Life and Death and has completed translating Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism. She is the author of A Study of American Gender Theory and Criticism (in Chinese) and has published articles on gender and ethics. She is currently working on a project of "Rereading Antigone in Post-structuralist Thoughts and Criticism." She is also at work on translating Judith Butler's Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly. She can be reached at

Works Cited

Butler, J. 2000. Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death. New York: Columbia University Press.
——. 2014. Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism. New York: Columbia University Press.


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pp. 133-134
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