Judith Butler

Preeminent American gender theorist

The foremost philosopher of gender issues, particularly relating to performativity – see her landmark Gender Trouble (1990), which influentially sited gender as something we do, rather than something we are – Butler most recently has applied her thinking to protest. The American philosopher and Berkeley professor’s recent Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015) looked at movements such as Occupy and Black Lives Matter, and the Standing Rock protest, as a form of bodily performativity on the part of precarious communities – which, she believes, ought to bond together for strength in numbers. In particular, Butler’s thought has underwritten the increasing visibility of gender fluidity in mainstream culture: as one website article opined in its headline last year, ‘It’s Judith Butler’s world’. For artists, increasing numbers of whom are considering the body as a site of protest, she’s an essential guiding spirit.