Democracy in the Political Present: A Queer-Feminist Theory

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by Isabell Lorey

Verso Books

11/15/2022, paperback

SKU: 9781839767333


"Presentist democracy is without a people and without nation. Rather than regimes of borders and migration, its borders are sexism and racism, homo- and transphobia, colonialism and extractivism."

In the midst of the crises and threats to liberal democracy, Isabell Lorey develops a democracy in the present tense; one which breaks open political certainties and linear concepts of progress and growth. Her queer feminist political theory formulates a fundamental critique of masculinist concepts of the people, representation, institutions, and the multitude. In doing so, she unfolds an original concept of a presentist democracy based on care and interrelatedness, on the irreducibility of responsibilities--one which cannot be conceived of without social movements' past struggles and current practices.


"Less a utopian manifesto than an experimentation with the means and time of politics, this work shows us in persuasive terms how enduring and persistent experimentation constitutes our present struggle." -- Judith Butler, author of numerous books including The Force of Nonviolence and Frames of War

"Weaving and unweaving the political philosophy of Rousseau, Derrida, Benjamin, Foucault and Negri, Isabell Lorey assembles a constellation of debates around keywords: democracy, time, sovereignty, commune. She does so in order to systematize the discontinuous struggles that inhabit these words, the possible futures that their meanings open up, and to place them at the disposal of a queer-feminist theory that locates the strike as one of its inspirational practices. Thus an 'infinitive present' opens up as a time of becoming, defined by the encounter of bodies, which expands the present through processes of indeterminate differentiation. By highlighting the non-democratic foundations of democracy one by one, the definition of a 'Presentist Democracy' emerges. This is woven out of care and debt: collective care and the debts of assuming relations of interdependence. This book is a tool for continuing to nourish the desire to change everything." -- Verónica Gago, activist and coauthor of A Feminist Reading of Debt

About the Author:

Isabell Lorey is a political theorist and a Queer Studies Professor at the Academy of Media Arts (KHM) in Cologne and works for transversal texts), the publication platform of the European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies. She is the author of several books, including State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious.