Judith Butler finds Michel Foucault’s ideas about the body incoherent: the body is both constituted by culture and causally constructed by culture. The alleged incoherence stems from this double role that culture supposedly plays in relation to body. On the one hand, if we take constitution as the primary relation between culture and body, then they are inseparable; the body is so to speak made of culture. If, on the other hand, we take construction as primary, culture and body are separate entities - culture works upon on the body. In order to avoid this paradox, Butler introduces the concept materialization. This paper argues, that for the notion of materialization to be comprehensible, it has to be interpreted as a dually constructive and constitutive notionon. Nevertheless, the paradoxical nature of the body-culture relation is not reinstated. With a suitable understanding of the notion of constitution no paradox follows from the claims ascribed to Foucault. In addition, if we understand the concept of constitution as a quasi-transcendental condition, most of Butler’s objectives are preserved, despite the rejection of materialization.
2008. Vol. 9, no 2