in a nutshell, irene, Butler makes resistance subordinate to power and
then explores this apparent contradiction that our resistance is
always already determined with power. in fact, for Foucault,
resistance is precisely what is not determined by power, the excess.
Forgive me for butting in, but i don't think that's a fair reading of
Butler's reading of Foucault, far from being "incorrect", is arguably
as good, if not better, than any other secondary source doing the
rounds. Her summaries of Foucault on power and the human subject are
concise without mutilating the theory. What she then does *from* that
reading, the uses she makes of Foucauldian principles, do diverge in a
number of fairly significant ways... but she's not "incorrect", she's
just not Foucault, and nor should she be.
For Butler, *agency* is "precisely what is not determined by power, the
excess". Conceptually, Butler's "agency" and Foucault's "resistance"
are roughly interchangeable -- it's mostly that the language and the
emphasis are different, not the basic principles of their context and
The first sentence (above -- "in a nutshell" etc) is not quite right:
Butler makes *the human subject* always already subordinate to power,
and then explores our attachment to this subjection, and, more
difficultly, how agency and resistance are even possible within such a
highly deterministic frame (a determinism that was already lurking in
Foucault, and which she's just made more explicit).
It should be borne in mind that when Butler talks about the subject's
"subordination to power" she's not using an instrumentalist or even
reified model of power, she primarily using a (slightly unorthodox)
Foucauldian model -- for example, one form of power that the subject is
"subordinated to" is the requirement that their utterances remain
intelligible within their culture's dominant regimes of truth/truth
games/whatever. That kind of always-already subordination to power is
well within the bounds of Foucauldian orthodoxy.