Questioned by W. J. T. Mitchell on the importance of theory for postcolonial studies, Homi Bhabha proceeds to distinguish two forms of interdisciplinarity. The first form is familiar in its emphasis on joint degrees and teaching in order to widen the teaching or research base, juxtaposing disciplines which yet maintain their solid foundations. The second form of interdisciplinarity acknowledges disciplinary limits, and marks the shaking of apparently solid foundations; Bhabha argues that it ‘is not an attempt to strengthen one foundation by drawing from another; it is a reaction to the fact that we are living at the real border of our own disciplines, where some of the fundamental ideas of our disciplines are being profoundly shaken. So our interdisciplinary moment is a move of survival – the formulation of knowledges that require our disciplinary scholarship and technique but demand that we abandon disciplinary mastery and surveillance.’ Elsewhere, in ‘DissemiNation’, Bhabha expands his point to argue for the necessity of this second form of interdisciplinarity: ‘To enter into the interdisciplinarity of cultural texts means that we cannot contextualize the emergent cultural form by locating it in terms of some pre-given discursive causality or origin.
Anxiety and Interdisciplinarity
Sex and the Body in Dickens
William A. Cohen
Not so long ago, the topic of Dickens and sex might have seemed entirely entailed by Foucault's inquires in the first volume of the History of Sexuality. In that work, Foucault argues that sex is not a biological donnée but is instead an effect of discourse, a culturally variable vehicle for the exercise of power in many different directions. Emerging out of Foucault's studies of social institutions such as prisons and madhouses, the History of Sexuality emphasises the disciplinary imperative of sexual knowledges; it argues that individual subjects internalise surveillance mechanisms, experiencing them through and as their sexuality. One of the beneficiaries of the Foucauldian paradigm, which dominated Victorian literary studies from the late 1980s until recently, was queer theory. Queer theory interrogates rather than presuming identity categories (such as homosexual, lesbian and gay), but it has always sat in an uneasy relation to identity politics, simultaneously relying on and deconstructing stable notions of gender and sexual identity. Some critics have employed queer theory to discover lesbian, gay or queer characters and practices in Victorian literature (not to mention finding more properly nineteenth-century types, such as the hysteric, the onanist and the sodomite). Such projects have often understood the function of sexual representation as part of modernity's more general disciplinary structure.
Joyce E. Canaan
English higher education, like other parts of the public sector and higher education in other countries, is currently undergoing considerable change as it is being restructured as if it were a market in which universities, departments and academics compete against one another. This restructuring is producing new processes of subjectivity that discipline those who work and study in higher education institutions. Feminist poststructuralists have suggested that this restructuring is enabled partly through new forms of accountability that seemingly offer the 'carrot' of self-realisation alongside the 'stick' of greater management surveillance of the burgeoning number of tasks that academics, amongst others, must perform. This paper, located in the context of these changes, builds on Judith Butler's insight that processes of subjection to the dominant order through which the self is produced entail both mastery and subjection. That is, submission requires mastery of the underlying assumptions of the dominant order, which concomitantly introduces possibly subversive responses to subjection. This paper explores a 'neoliberal moment' I recently experienced when I had to fill out a form introduced for modules that failed to reach newly introduced marking 'benchmark' criteria. As I suggest, the process of being subjected to the disciplining that this new criterion demanded, brought me the mastery necessary to avoid such disciplining in future. However, individual subversion did not significantly challenge these forms of accountability; only a collective 'scholarship with commitment' could do so.
This article analyzes the evolution of sexual politics and cultures in post-unification Germany, tracing these through three stages. First is the more immediate aftermath, in the early to mid 1990s, of ostalgische consternation over the loss of what Easterners understood to be the special qualities of GDR sexual culture, analyzing this consternation in the context of the—mutually conflicting—fantasies that Easterners and Westerners had about each other, replete with Easterners' ideas about how capitalism deforms interhuman interactions and Westerners' ideas about the deformations caused by totalitarian surveillance. A second stage runs from the mid 1990s through to the early twenty-first century, and includes both the convergence between East and West on the governmental policy level and the growing similarities identified in Easterners' and Westerners' sexual habits and mores. The third stage concerns the more recent past of the last five years and emphasizes the paradoxical coexistence of, on the one hand, strong commitment (on both the governmental and popular levels) to liberal values of individual sexual self-determination and toleration of diversity and a general sex-positive climate with, on the other, tremendous anxiety about the rise of European Islam (with its purportedly intrinsic hostility to both homosexuality and female sexual independence) and about the precipitous decline of the German birthrate. Attention is also paid to the newest policy directions with regard to adolescent sexuality and age of consent laws, abortion access, and disability rights.
Migration, Development, and Social Transformation
Nina Glick Schiller and Thomas Faist
How should scholars interested in social analysis approach the topic of migration and development, and with what analytical tools, conceptual framework, or political stance? The topic of migration and development is becoming an important field of study, yet these questions are too rarely asked. In this special section, “Migration, Development, and Transnationalization: A Critical Stance,” all six authors, each in his or her own way, and from various intellectual and disciplinary starting points, argue that the assumptions and paradigms underlying the study of the asymmetrical but mutual transfers of resources that accompany migration are deeply flawed and continue to reflect the interests of the global North, the most powerful states, and the globe-spanning institutions that serve their interests. The articles explore the role that contradictory discourses about migration are playing as modes of explanation for growing inequalities and an expanding global regime of militarized surveillance. Moreover, the articles provide useful alternative perspectives to the current received wisdom about the relationship between migration and development.
Henry A. Giroux
This article argues that democracy is on life support in the United States. Throughout the social order, the forces of predatory capitalism are on the march—dismantling the welfare state, corrupting politics with outside money, defunding higher education, expanding the corporate-surveillance-military state, widening inequalities in wealth and income, and waging a war on low income and poor minorities. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from higher education to health care centers—there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. This article argues that given this current crisis, educators, artists, intellectuals, youth, and workers need a new political and pedagogical language centered around the notion of radical democracy in order to address the changing contexts and issues facing a world in which capital draws upon an unprecedented convergence of resources—financial, cultural, political, economic, scientific, military, and technological—to exercise powerful and diverse forms of control.
The social purity ‘crusade’ that gathered force after 1885 initiated a change both in ways of representing prostitution and in public opinion about ways of dealing with the sexually deviant woman. Since the 1860s the police had been granted the power under the Contagious Diseases Acts to apprehend women of doubtful virtue in the streets and insist that they be medically examined; if found to be diseased, they could then be detained in lock hospitals. Once these acts were repealed in 1885, prostitutes had greater freedom but were also kept under surveillance by philanthropists and the medical profession. A variety of discourses constructed the prostitute either as an innocent victim of male lust or as a ‘demon’ and ‘contagion of evil’. Judith Walkowitz has argued that such an ideological framework excluded the experience of women who drifted into this lifestyle temporarily, and provided ‘a restrictive and moralistic image’ of the fallen woman. Arguably, literary representations of prostitutes tended to flesh out the potentially restrictive images used in feminist, medical and periodical writing on the subject, though no form of discourse was immune to the strong influence of the language of purity used by the members of the National Vigilance Association (NVA) and its advocates.
Few scholars today question the binary relationship between imperialism and violence, and French historians are no exception. In recent years, a multitude of studies have appeared concerning the violence inherent in the conquest of the nineteenth-century Gallic empire, the maintenance and defense of the colonial system, and the decolonization process—massacres and torture during the Algerian War, for example. Such works often reflect Etienne Balibar’s definition of “structural violence”: an essential component of a repressive system, maintaining unequal social relations while defending “the interests, power positions, and forms of social domination.”1 This hegemony took various guises at different times throughout the history of French imperialism, operating in tandem with assaults on the indigènes (the term adopted by the authorities for natives). It could involve surveillance and intelligence gathering, security forces, and judicial-penal institutions employed to harass and control the colonized. Yet it also resulted from the forced pacification of native peoples (Alice Conklin refers to this policy as an “act of state-sanctioned violence”) and the imposition of the indigénat—the loose collection of rules that granted extraordinary police and disciplinary powers to the colonial administration, along with the imposition of forced labor and taxation.2 The ultimate defense of this system, and indeed its brutal apogee, emerged during the wars of decolonization, in which tens of thousands of the colonized were killed in Algeria and Indochina, while countless others were subjected to torture and incarceration.
‘No government can protect the rights of citizens without rigorous police, but the difference between a free regime and a tyrannical one is that, in the former, the police are employed against that minority opposed to the general good as well as against the abuse and negligence of the authorities; whereas, in the latter the State police are employed against the down-trodden who are thus delivered into the hands of injustice and impunity’.
This declaration was not a reaction to the Marikana massacre (16 August 2012), when a British mining company operating in South Africa had a special unit of the post-Apartheid South African Police Service murderously repress a mine workers strike, by means of mass shooting; many of those killed were later found to have been shot in the back as they ran away from the volley of bullets. It was made about two hundred and twenty years before, in April 1794, when revolutionary France was experiencing its most tragic moments. In the context of the Terror, and facing the necessity to discipline it, its author, Saint-Just (1767–1794), redeployed some of the most classical concepts in the History of Political Thought – freedom versus tyranny, general good versus particular interest, elite accountability versus impunity of power – in order to provide the ideological principles framing the organisation, within the web of the revolutionary police, of a special office in charge of the surveillance of the Executive and of public authorities.
English higher education, like other parts of the public sector and higher education in other countries, is currently undergoing considerable change as it is being restructured as if it were a market in which universities, departments and academics compete against one another. This restructuring is producing new processes of subjectivity that discipline those who work and study in higher education institutions. Feminist poststructuralists have suggested that this restructuring is enabled partly through new forms of accountability that seemingly offer the 'carrot' of self-realisation alongside the 'stick' of greater management surveillance of the burgeoning number of tasks that academics, amongst others, must perform. This paper, located in the context of these changes, builds on Judith Butler's insight that processes of subjection to the dominant order through which the self is produced entail both mastery and subjection. That is, submission requires mastery of the underlying assumptions of the dominant order, In this paper I adopt an auto/biographical method and a critique of abstract social theories to explore how the neoliberal restructuring of universities interacts with the gender order. Many universities are being remoulded as businesses for other businesses, with profound effects on internal relations, the subjectivities of academics and students, and practices of education and scholarship. Yet I doubt if we can understand this, nor resist the deep corruption, through grasping neoliberalism's dynamics alone. A longer memory and a more concrete analysis are needed. Today's intense individualisation impacts on pre-existing social relations, which inflect it unpredictably. From my own experience, I evoke the baseline of an older academy, gender-segregated, explicitly patriarchal and privileged in class and ethnic terms. I stress the feminist and democratic gains of the 1960s and 1970s. I sketch the (neoliberal) strategies that undermine or redirect them. I write this, hoping that the next episode can be written differently.