Tag Archives: Civil rights demonstrations

Future Foucault

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Future Foucault: Afterlives of Bodies and Pleasures [Publisher, Local Library] ed Jacques Khalip, an issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, v 111 no 3, Summer 2012; with William Haver, Elizabeth Povinelli, and Tim Dean.

Khalip Future Foucault South Atlantic Quarterly

Like other recent numbers of The South Atlantic Quarterly, this Summer 2012 one includes an appended “Against the Day” section of essays on a current political topic. In this particular case, the “Encampments and Occupations” of the latter section seem to connect unusually well (and perhaps not even to much intentional design) with the main body of Future Foucault: Afterlives of Bodies and Pleasures

The principal theme of the journal issue is that of work applying the later “biopolitical” Foucault in various areas of contemporary study and theory. William Haver’s “A Sense of the Common” Is especially apposite to the popular appropriations of space described in “Encampments and Occupations.” Heather Gautney’s article “Occupy x” in the latter explicitly presents “common space” as an alternative to both “private space” and institutionally-controlled “public space.” In “The Will to Be Otherwise,” Elizabeth Povinelli explores the conundrum of biopolitics with questions about how dissent is possible, and Sanchez Cedillo’s essay on 15M in Spain seems to evoke resistance against biopolitics itself, with the emphasis on the refrain “we are not commodities in the hands of politicians and bankers.” The reflections on networked digital media in the context of the popular Occupy movement could probably be read to some constructive effect in the context of the theorizing in Mark Hansen’s “Foucault and the Media,” although I honestly found Hansen’s piece rather jargon-ridden and opaque. Stavors Stavrides’ “Squares in Movement” overtly invoked a number of post-Foucauldian social theorists.

Tim Dean’s “The Biopolitics of Pleasure” and Carolyn J. Dean’s summation of the Foucault section (“The Agency of Sex”) were both interesting and provocative, although they found little echo in the second section. Likewise, the essay on the Egyptian revolution was an engaging corrective to mass media and Internet accounts, without extensive theoretical pleading. 

On the whole, this was an enlightening read, and a timely one on the first anniversary of the inaugural Occupy Wall Street protests.