Michel Foucault argues that truth is not to be emancipated from power. Given that museums have played a central role in these “regimes of truth,” Foucault’s work was a reference point for the debates around “the new museology” in the 1980s and remains so for contemporary debates in the field. In this introduction to a new volume of selected essays, the use of Foucault’s work in my previous research is considered in terms of the relations between museums, heritage, anthropology, and government. In addition, concepts from Pierre Bourdieu, science and technology studies, Actor Network Theory, assemblage theory, and the post-Foucaultian literature on governmentality are employed to examine various topics, including the complex situation of Indigenous people in contemporary Australia.
Museums, Power, Knowledge
Lenience in Systems of Religious Meaning and Practice
Maya Mayblin and Diego Malara
exertion and relaxation, of will power and self-abstention come at us from a bewildering number of angles. Discipline, it would seem, is thus no less ubiquitous, no less penetrating, no less a driver of subjectivity than when under Foucault’s famous gaze
Kings or Presidents?
War and the State in Pre- and Post-Genocidal Rwanda
Christopher C. Taylor
For theorists of the state and war inspired by Michel Foucault, the central issue is power. For Foucault there is no individual subject constructed in the absence of power, and no social institution that does not bear the imprint of historical struggles over power (Foucault 1979). With power so pervasively infusing human experience, there appears to be little need of talking about anything else. Power is everywhere. History is the chronicle of the struggle for power among individuals and groups. Taken to its logical conclusion, this perspective on human social life ends up sounding very much like the Hobbesian “war of each against all” (cf. Sahlins 2000).
This article analyzes certain aspects of the work of Jonathan Friedman, especially as they are relevant to an "insurrection of subjugated knowledges" that Foucault imagined began in the 1960s. The article traces Friedman's critique of Marvin Harris's cultural materialism and of Edmund Leach's interpretation of highland Burma's socio-political systems. It discusses Friedman's pioneering development of global systems theory based on an integration of Marxist and Lévi-Straussian structuralism. Finally, it argues the insurrection that Foucault spoke of was febrile, and suggests how Friedman's work might be employed to help develop a fiercer struggle against subjugation.
Rhetoric and the Workings of Power—The Social Contract in Crisis
As social, cultural, and political subjects, we are all constituted in power. Power is not something external to the subject, but rather a context and an idiom of subjectivity. It is creative and generative, as Foucault (1977) would argue, and also relational insofar as it is manifested in relationships (Etzioni 1993; Kritzman 1988; Wolf 1999). It has long been argued that resistance itself, as Foucault ( 1990: 95) put it, “is never in a position of exteriority in relation to power” (see also Abu-Lughod 1990; Mitchell 1990; Reed-Danahay 1993; Williams 2008). In a recent article on autonomy and the French alter-globalization movement, which also builds on Donald Moore’s (1998) argument, Williams (2008: 80–81) claims that “[r]esistance … emerges not from an originary site but from oppositional practices, which … are always relational and dynamic.”
Jon Harald Sande Lie
Through its post-structural critique of development, post-development provides a fundamental dismissal of institutional development. Drawing on the work of Foucault, post-development portrays development as a monolithic and hegemonic discourse that constructs rather than solves the problems it purports to address. Yet post-development itself becomes guilty of creating an analysis that loses sight of individuals and agency, being fundamental to its development critique. This article discusses the discourse-agency nexus in light of the post-development context with specific reference to the grand structure-actor conundrum of social theory, and asks whether an actor perspective is compatible with discourse analysis and what—if anything—should be given primacy. It aims to provide insight into social theory and post-development comparatively and, furthermore, to put these in context, with Foucault's work being pivotal to the seminal post-development approach.
Christian Lund, Anthony D. Buckley, Gavin Smith, Martijn Koster, Johannes Stahl, Elizabeth Tonkin, and Luisa Steur
Deema Kaneff, Who owns the past? The politics of time in a ‘model’ Bulgarian village
William F. Kelleher Jr., The troubles in Ballybogoin: Memory and identity in Northern Ireland
Don Kalb and Herman Tak, Critical junctions: Anthropology and history beyond the cultural turn
Jonathan Xavier Inda (ed.), Anthropologies of modernity: Foucault, governmentality, and life politics
Tatjana Thelen, Privatisierung und soziale Ungleichheit in der osteuropäischen Landwirtschaft. Zwei Fallstudien aus Ungarn und Rumänien
André Celtel, Categories of self: Louis Dumont’s theory of the individual
Gerald Sider, Living Indian histories: Lumbee and Tuscarora people in North Carolina
Epidemics as Events and as Crises
Comparing Two Plague Outbreaks in Manchuria (1910–11 and 1920–21)
This article draws on Alain Badiou's notion of the event and on Michel Foucault's critique of the notion of crisis in comparing two pneumonic plague outbreaks in Manchuria. It is argued that the two epidemics, although apparently involving the same pathogen and geographical region, cannot be treated as analogous. The article approaches the Manchurian pneumonic plague epidemic of 1910–11 as an event, and the Manchurian pneumonic plague epidemic of 1920–21 as a crisis, stressing that the crucial difference between the two lies with the way in which they produced and reproduced biopolitical subjects.
Travel as Imperial Strategy
George Nathaniel Curzon Goes East, 1887-1894
Sometimes a travel theory is enunciated with such transparency as to seem almost a caricature. A key aspect of the debate surrounding Edward Said’s Orientalism has been the argument, adduced by such writers as Reina Lewis (1996), Lisa Lowe (1991), Billy Melman (1992), Dennis Porter (1991) et al., that Said’s construct disallows a space for multivalent positionings within the discourse of Orientalism. In this essay it is not my intention to rescue Said’s thesis from these critics, or to attempt a revision of his correlation of Orientalism with imperialism. My subject can be seen to justify Eurzon’s inclusion, alongside contemporaries like Balfour and Cromer, within that bloc of imperial patronage that sought to inscribe the East within the construct of Western knowledge/power which Said termed Orientalism. As enunciations of an aesthetic of travel, or codifications of imperial administration, Curzon’s writings rarely digress from Foucault’s equation of knowledge and power. But I intend also to problematise the confidence of imperial mastery in Curzon’s Orientalism by articulating the interior anxieties it seeks to cover by its political/racial logocentrism.
Crafting the Local
GIs, Jewelry, and Transformations in Valenza, Italy
Michele F. Fontefrancesco
This article examines the effects that GI (geographic indication) brands may have on the commodity producers who employ this marketing strategy. By analyzing the case of jewelry production in Valenza, Italy, and the creation of the DV brand, it demonstrates that GIs tend to impose new forms of production over the local milieu. Although based on a rhetoric about the maintenance of traditional practices, GIs enforce a techno-scientific approach over a techne-oriented understanding on the local level. Echoing Foucault's idea of disciplinary power, GIs and their regulation bodies thus become agents of a transformation of the local community and local production practice. This case suggests that these transformations of locale, which result in tension among market standards, brand regulation, and production due to the rhetoric of 'authenticity', should be reconsidered.