Was Judith Butler Right to Refuse Berlin Award?



DECLARING that she must distance herself “from this complicity with racism,” Judith Butler publicly rejected the 2010 Civil Courage Award at Berlin’s Gay Pride Celebrations, known in Germany as Christopher Street Day or CSD. This decision by one of today’s preeminent intellectuals provoked a scandal, but two factors prevented her statement from having its full effect: a reference to commercialism that sidetracked the mainstream press reception; and an insufficient explanation for the charge of racism.

On Friday, June 18th, Judith Butler, author of such foundational works in queer theory as Gender Trouble, gave a lecture called “Queer Alliances and Anti-War Politics” to a sold-out crowd at the historic Volksbühne.

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