In this essay, I try to conceptualise meaningful forms of resistance in the present by revisiting Sophocles’ Antigone
, one of the most important texts of western literary tradition. I focus on Antigone’s compulsion to act
against Creon’s decree, which turns Sophocles’ heroine into a metonymical expression of (civil) disobedience, sacrifice, and mourning—to my mind, the constitutive elements of effective resistant subjectivity. In my analysis, Antigone’s resistance is transformed from a deeply private, filial duty, essentially seen as heroic, into a rich, public expression of collectivity and solidarity. To illustrate this, I capilatise on Judith Butler’s designation of Antigone firmly in the political
, and then proceed to make use of Bonnie Honig’s recalibration of her disobedience as one which transcends solitary action to express the collective, democratic feeling of a whole polis
. I then mobilise a three-pronged theoretical framework. Firstly, I analyse the clash of Antigone with Creon through the prism of Jacques Derrida’s work on law and violence. Secondly, I explore the possibility of a biopolitical framing as developed by Giorgio Agamben since, at its core, the clash in the play is enacted within the parameters of a vitiated habeas corpus
: from the moment Antigone confesses her misdeed she is treated by Creon, the sovereign, as a non-human—as an animal or, indeed, a miasma. In the last section of this essay, I mobilise the work of Howard Caygill with a view to analysing what I perceive as three discernible yet concatenated stages (or aspects) in the formation of Antigone’s resistant subjectivity: her full awareness of what it means to disobey
(hence to resist
), her acceptance of sacrifice, and, finally, her commitment to the political potentialities of mourning.