Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$18.95
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $7.47
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 72%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (14) from $7.47   
  • New (8) from $14.98   
  • Used (6) from $7.47   

Overview

"This is a brilliant book. Wendy Brown has made the reader understand 'tolerance' in a new and more provocative way. Alerting us to its genealogy, she demonstrates the ambiguity of any politics that seeks to found itself on this much-touted liberal virtue. Regulating Aversion is a remarkable—and remarkably rigorous—contribution to the considerable literature on tolerance and the limits of the tolerable. Anyone wanting to think seriously about multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, and democratic pluralism in our time must read it."—Talal Asad, CUNY Graduate Center

"Wendy Brown's Regulating Aversion is clear, rigorous, and unusually bold in an academic atmosphere that is now far from sympathetic to its kind of radical critique. Brown has done a wonderful job of orchestrating her argument, and it has been articulated with wit. The book is a worthy successor to her best and most politically astute contributions. This is an important work."—Paul Gilroy, London School of Economics

"In this fascinating and provocative book, Brown brings into sharp analytical focus a perplexing phenomenon: in political discourse since the late twentieth century, both the objects and content of tolerance have shifted. The sweep of Brown's analysis is impressive: she deftly weaves together critiques of contemporary politics with thoughtful explorations of the history of liberal thought on tolerance."—Melissa Williams, University of Toronto

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Cultural Critique
The strength of Brown's book is her trenchant deconstructions of the universalizing pretenses of tolerance specifically and liberal discourse more generally. Brown's intervention successfully jars tolerance loose from the hallowed transhistorical ground on which it usually rests.
— C. Michael Hurst
Chronicle of Higher Education - Stanley Fish
The triumph of toleration as the central liberal value, and the attendant inability of liberals to see the dark side of their favorite virtue, is the subject of Wendy Brown's insightful and illuminating new book. . . . I find the analysis trenchant and the critique persuasive.
Social Forces - John Hall
This is a remarkable book . . . made attractive by its passion, the lucidity of its negative critique, and its intelligence.
American Review of Politics - Vincent Geoghegan
Wendy Brown has produced a richly textured and timely analysis of some of the darker elements lurking beneath the tolerance discourse of western liberalism.
Criminal Law and Philosophy - Ely Aharonson
[This is a] bold, erudite, and timely study.
Feminist Legal Studies - Emily Grabham
Regulating Aversion is a forceful and, in many places, convincing attempt to account for the contemporary relevance and meanings of tolerance within liberalism in the West, and in the United States in particular.
Cultural Critique - C. Michael Hurst
The strength of Brown's book is her trenchant deconstructions of the universalizing pretenses of tolerance specifically and liberal discourse more generally. Brown's intervention successfully jars tolerance loose from the hallowed transhistorical ground on which it usually rests.
From the Publisher
"The triumph of toleration as the central liberal value, and the attendant inability of liberals to see the dark side of their favorite virtue, is the subject of Wendy Brown's insightful and illuminating new book. . . . I find the analysis trenchant and the critique persuasive."—Stanley Fish, Chronicle of Higher Education

"This is a remarkable book . . . made attractive by its passion, the lucidity of its negative critique, and its intelligence."—John Hall, Social Forces

"Wendy Brown has produced a richly textured and timely analysis of some of the darker elements lurking beneath the tolerance discourse of western liberalism."—Vincent Geoghegan, American Review of Politics

"[This is a] bold, erudite, and timely study."—Ely Aharonson, Criminal Law and Philosophy

"Regulating Aversion is a forceful and, in many places, convincing attempt to account for the contemporary relevance and meanings of tolerance within liberalism in the West, and in the United States in particular."—Emily Grabham, Feminist Legal Studies

"The strength of Brown's book is her trenchant deconstructions of the universalizing pretenses of tolerance specifically and liberal discourse more generally. Brown's intervention successfully jars tolerance loose from the hallowed transhistorical ground on which it usually rests."—C. Michael Hurst, Cultural Critique

Chronicle of Higher Education
The triumph of toleration as the central liberal value, and the attendant inability of liberals to see the dark side of their favorite virtue, is the subject of Wendy Brown's insightful and illuminating new book. . . . I find the analysis trenchant and the critique persuasive.
— Stanley Fish
Social Forces
This is a remarkable book . . . made attractive by its passion, the lucidity of its negative critique, and its intelligence.
— John Hall
American Review of Politics
Wendy Brown has produced a richly textured and timely analysis of some of the darker elements lurking beneath the tolerance discourse of western liberalism.
— Vincent Geoghegan
Criminal Law and Philosophy
[This is a] bold, erudite, and timely study.
— Ely Aharonson
Feminist Legal Studies
Regulating Aversion is a forceful and, in many places, convincing attempt to account for the contemporary relevance and meanings of tolerance within liberalism in the West, and in the United States in particular.
— Emily Grabham
Feminist Legal Studies
Regulating Aversion is a forceful and, in many places, convincing attempt to account for the contemporary relevance and meanings of tolerance within liberalism in the West, and in the United States in particular.
— Emily Grabham
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691136219
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/7/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,126,287
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Wendy Brown is professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also a member of the Critical Theory Faculty. Her books include "Edgework: Essays on Knowledge and Politics, Politics Out of History", and "States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity" (all Princeton).
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Regulating Aversion

Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire
By Wendy Brown

Princeton University Press

Copyright © 2006 Princeton University Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-691-12654-2


Chapter One

TOLERANCE AS A DISCOURSE OF DEPOLITICIZATION

Can't we all just get along? -Rodney King An enemy is someone whose story you have not heard. -epigraph of "Living Room Dialogues on the Middle East"

Tolerance is not a product of politics, religion or culture. Liberals and conservatives, evangelicals and atheists, whites, Latinos, Asians, and blacks ... are equally capable of tolerance and intolerance.... [T]olerance has much less to do with our opinions than with what we feel and how we live. -Sarah Bullard, Teaching Tolerance

How did tolerance become a beacon of multicultural justice and civic peace at the turn of the twenty-first century? A mere generation ago, tolerance was widely recognized in the United States as a code word for mannered racialism. Early in the civil rights era, many white northerners staked their superiority to their southern brethren on a contrast between northern tolerance and southern bigotry. But racial tolerance was soon exposed as a subtle form of Jim Crow, one that did not resort to routine violence, formal segregation, or other overt tactics of superordination but reproduced white supremacy all the same. This exposé in turnmetamorphosed into an artifact of social knowledge: well into the 1970s, racial tolerance remained a term of left and liberal derision, while religious tolerance seemed so basic to liberal orders that it was as rarely discussed as it was tested. Freedom and equality, rather than tolerance, became the watchwords of justice projects on behalf of the excluded, subordinated, or marginalized.

Since the mid-1980s, however, there has been something of a global renaissance in tolerance talk. Tolerance surged back into use in the late twentieth century as multiculturalism became a central problematic of liberal democratic citizenship; as Third World immigration threatened the ethnicized identities of Europe, North America, and Australia; as indigenous peoples pursued claims of reparation, belonging, and entitlement; as ethnically coded civil conflict became a critical site of international disorder; and as Islamic religious identity intensified and expanded into a transnational political force. Tolerance talk also became prominent as domestic norms of integration and assimilation gave way to concerns with identity and difference on the left and as the rights claims of various minorities were spurned as "special" rather than universal on the right.

Today, tolerance is uncritically promoted across a wide range of venues and for a wide range of purposes. At United Nations conferences and in international human rights campaigns, tolerance is enumerated, along with freedom of conscience and speech, as a fundamental component of universal human dignity. In Europe, tolerance is prescribed as the appropriate bearing toward recent Third World immigrants, Roma, and (still) Jews and as the solution to civil strife in the Balkans. In the United States, tolerance is held out as the key to peaceful coexistence in racially divided neighborhoods, the potential fabric of community in diversely populated public schools, the corrective for abusive homophobia in the military and elsewhere, and the antidote for rising rates of hate crime. Tolerance was the ribbon hung around the choice of an orthodox Jew for the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 2000 presidential elections and the rubric under which George W. Bush, upon taking office in his first term, declared that appointees in his administration would not have their sexual orientations scrutinized ... or revealed. Schools teach tolerance, the state preaches tolerance, religious and secular civic associations promulgate tolerance. The current American "war on terrorism" is being fought, in part, in its name. Moreover, even as certain contemporary conservatives identify tolerance as a codeword for endorsing homosexuality, tolerance knows no political party: it is what liberals and leftists reproach a religious, xenophobic, and homophobic right for lacking, but also what evangelical Christians claim that secular liberals refuse them and what conservative foreign policy ideologues claim America cherishes and "radical Islamicists" abhor. Combined with this bewildering array of sites and calls for tolerance is an impressive range of potential objects of tolerance, including cultures, races, ethnicities, sexualities, ideologies, lifestyle and fashion choices, political positions, religions, and even regimes.

Moreover, tolerance has never enjoyed a unified meaning across the nations and cultures that have valued, practiced, or debated it. It has a variety of historical strands, has been provoked or revoked in relation to diverse conflicts, and has been inflected by distinct political traditions and constitutions. Today, even within the increasingly politically and economically integrated Euro-Atlantic world, tolerance signifies differently and attaches to different objects in different national contexts; for example, tolerance is related to but not equivalent to laïcité in France, as the recent French debate over the hijab made clear. And practices of tolerance in Holland, England, Canada, Australia, and Germany not only draw on distinct intellectual and political lineages but are focused on different contemporary objects-sexuality, immigrants, or indigenous peoples-that themselves call for different modalities of tolerance. That is, modalities of tolerance talk that have issued from postcolonial encounters with indigenous peoples in settler colonies do not follow the same logics as those that have issued from European encounters with immigrants from its former colonies or those that are centered on patriarchal religious anxieties about insubordinate gender and sexual practices. Similarly, an Islamic state seeking to develop codes of tolerance inflects the term differently than does a Euro-Atlantic political imaginary within which the nation-states of the West are presumed always already tolerant.

Given this proliferation of and variation in agents, objects, and political cadences of tolerance, it may be tempting to conclude that it is too polymorphous and unstable to analyze as a political or moral discourse. I pursue another hypothesis here: that the semiotically polyvalent, politically promiscuous, and sometimes incoherent use of tolerance in contemporary American life, closely considered and critically theorized, can be made to reveal important features of our political time and condition. The central question of this study is not "What is tolerance?" or even "What has become of the idea of tolerance?" but, What kind of political discourse, with what social and political effects, is contemporary tolerance talk in the United States? What readings of the discourses of liberalism, colonialism, and imperialism circulating through Western democracies can analytical scrutiny of this talk provide? The following chapters aim to track the social and political work of tolerance discourse by comprehending how this discourse constructs and positions liberal and nonliberal subjects, cultures, and regimes; how it figures conflict, stratification, and difference; how it operates normatively; and how its normativity is rendered oblique almost to the point of invisibility.

These aims require an appreciation of tolerance as not only protean in meaning but also historically and politically discursive in character. They require surrendering an understanding of tolerance as a transcendent or universal concept, principle, doctrine, or virtue so that it can be considered instead as a political discourse and practice of governmentality that is historically and geographically variable in purpose, content, agents, and objects. As a consortium of para-legal and para-statist practices in modern constitutional liberalism-practices that are associated with the liberal state and liberal legalism but are not precisely codified by it-tolerance is exemplary of Foucault's account of governmentality as that which organizes "the conduct of conduct" at a variety of sites and through rationalities not limited to those formally countenanced as political. Absent the precise dictates, articulations, and prohibitions associated with the force of law, tolerance nevertheless produces and positions subjects, orchestrates meanings and practices of identity, marks bodies, and conditions political subjectivities. This production, positioning, orchestration, and conditioning is achieved not through a rule or a concentration of power, but rather through the dissemination of tolerance discourse across state institutions; civic venues such as schools, churches, and neighborhood associations; ad hoc social groups and political events; and international institutions or forums.

When I commenced this study in the late 1990s, I was almost exclusively concerned with domestic tolerance talk. My interest in the subject was piqued by the peculiar character of the discourse of tolerance in contemporary civic and especially pedagogical culture in the United States. As multicultural projects of enfranchisement, cooperation, and conflict reduction embraced the language of tolerance, clearly both the purview and purpose of tolerance had undergone changes from its Reformation-era concern with minoritarian religious belief and modest freedom of conscience. In its current usage, tolerance seemed less a strategy of protection than a telos of multicultural citizenship, and focused less on belief than on identity broadly construed. The genuflection to tolerance in the literatures, mottos, and mission statements of schools, religious associations, and certain civic institutions suggested that what once took shape as an instrument of civic peace and an alternative to the violent exclusion or silencing of religious dissidents had metamorphosed into a generalized language of antiprejudice and now betokened a vision of the good society yet to come. And if this vision was promulgated by actors across the political spectrum, its praises as likely to be sung by a neoconservative American president or attorney general as by a United Nations chief or a leftist community organizer, tolerance was clearly having a strange new life at the turn of the century.

In the context of this profusion of subjects and objects of tolerance, this uncritical embrace of tolerance across a diverse ideological field, and this apparent conversion of tolerance from a particular form of protection against violent persecution to a late-twentieth-century vision of the good society, my questions were these: What kind of governmental and regulatory functions might tolerance discourse perform in contemporary liberal democratic nation-states? What kind of civil order does tolerance configure or envision? What kind of social subject does it produce? What kind of citizen does it hail, with what orientation to politics, to the state, and to fellow citizens? What kind of state legitimation might it supply and in response to what legitimation deficits? What kind of justice might it promise and what kinds might it compromise or displace? What retreat from stronger ideals of justice is conveyed by giving tolerance pride of place in a moral-political vision of the good? What kind of fatalism about the persistence of hostile and irreconcilable differences in the body politic might its promulgation carry?

The original project, then, was to be a consideration of the constructive and regulatory effects of tolerance as a discourse of justice, citizenship, and community in late modern, multicultural liberal democracies, with a focus on the United States. However, in the aftermath of September 11, political rhetorics of Islam, nationalism, fundamentalism, culture, and civilization have reframed even domestic discourses of tolerance-the enemy of tolerance is now the weaponized radical Islamicist state or terror cell rather than the neighborhood bigot-and have certainly changed the cultural pitch of tolerance in the international sphere. While some of these changes have simply brought to the surface long-present subterranean norms in liberal tolerance discourse, others have articulated tolerance for genuinely new purposes. These include the legitimation of a new form of imperial state action in the twenty-first century, a legitimation tethered to a constructed opposition between a cosmopolitan West and its putatively fundamentalist Other. Tolerance thus emerges as part of a civilizational discourse that identifies both tolerance and the tolerable with the West, marking nonliberal societies and practices as candidates for an intolerable barbarism that is itself signaled by the putative intolerance ruling these societies. In the mid-nineteenth through mid- twentieth centuries, the West imagined itself as standing for civilization against primitivism, and in the cold war years for freedom against tyranny; now these two recent histories are merged in the warring figures of the free, the tolerant, and the civilized on one side, and the fundamentalist, the intolerant, and the barbaric on the other.

As it altered certain emphases in liberal discourse itself, so, too, did the post-September 11 era alter the originally intended course of this study. The new era demanded that questions about tolerance as a domestic governmentality producing and regulating ethnic, religious, racial, and sexual subjects be supplemented with questions about the operation of tolerance in and as a civilizational discourse distinguishing Occident from Orient, liberal from nonliberal regimes, "free" from "unfree" peoples. Such questions include the following: If tolerance is a political principle used to mark an opposition between liberal and fundamentalist orders, how might liberal tolerance discourse function not only to anoint Western superiority but also to legitimate Western cultural and political imperialism? That is, how might this discourse actually promote Western supremacy and aggression even as it veils them in the modest dress of tolerance? How might tolerance, the very virtue that Samuel Huntington advocates for preempting a worldwide clash of civilizations, operate as a key element in a civilizational discourse that codifies the superiority and legitimates the superordination of the West? What is the work of tolerance discourse in a contemporary imperial liberal governmentality? What kind of subject is thought to be capable of tolerance? What sort of rationality and sociality is tolerance imagined to require and what sorts are thought to inhibit it-in other words, what anthropological presuppositions does liberal tolerance entail and circulate?

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Regulating Aversion by Wendy Brown Copyright © 2006 by Princeton University Press . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Chapter 1: Tolerance as a Discourse of Depoliticization 1
Chapter 2: Tolerance as a Discourse of Power 25
Chapter 3: Tolerance as Supplement
The "Jewish Question" and the "Woman Question" 48
Chapter 4: Tolerance as Governmentality
Faltering Universalism, State Legitimacy, and State Violence 78
Chapter 5: Tolerance as Museum Object The Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance 107
Chapter 6: Subjects of Tolerance
Why We Are Civilized and They Are the Barbarians 149
Chapter 7: Tolerance as/in Civilizational Discourse 176
Notes 207
Index 259

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.


If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)