Bonnie Honig on agency in “Antigone”

Antigone’s actions are “embedded in and enacted on behalf of forces, structures, and networks larger than the autonomous individual that modern liberals, humanists and even radical democratic theorist tend to both love … and berate” (Honig, Antigone, Interrupted, 8). “Under the name of Antigone, A,I tracks not an exemplary individual but rather a set of discourses, styles, genres, vocabularies, citations, collaborations, conspiracies, reactions, interruptions, negotiations, failed and successful communications” (piece on the Leonard/Porter panel, 330). Antigone is “a veritable swarm of figures. Not a subjectified reified figure, but a host: … all dissidents, martyrs, counter-revolutionaries, philosophers, feminists, and diasporic actors who have claimed her or been claimed by her. Indeed, Antigone seems to me to be less of a singular heroine … than a signifier overflowing with contested meanings and available for mobilization as a heroine in many particular contexts” (331). Honig insists that “the world also always passes through us, and that we are, therefore, only ever individuated, never individuals as such, always en procès” (335). “I do press for a politics that seeks out sovereignty, but not for individuals. Individual subjects are anything but sovereign. As actors in concert, however, we can set the terms of our collective life together in small and, sometimes, large ways” (piece on the Walsh panel, 571).