Based on fieldwork undertaken in 2004–2005, I analyze how the Irish border has been constructed, represented, challenged, and imagined by both the state and borderlanders as a means to discuss processes of constructing sovereignty. I focus on the concept of “assemblage” to integrate and highlight the tensions and contradictions between different levels of analysis: the juridical, the academic representation of the border, and the memories and practices of borderlanders. I argue that sovereignty, rather than a claim to be taken at face value by states, is the emergent property of the combination of a variety of forces, forms, and practices involved in the making of borders, and that its very enactment also produces anti-sovereign effects.
Lorenzo Cañás Bottos
Joyful Assemblages in Moments of Girlhood
Susanne Gannon, Kristina Gottschall and Catherine Camden Pratt
Through stories of young girls at play produced in a collective biography workshop we trace flows of desire and excesses of joy, and bring recent feminist work on positive affect into our analysis of girlhood becomings. Ringrose (2011, 2013) argues that the concept of the “affective assemblage“ brings together affect, embodiment, and relationality in powerful ways to enable a mapping of how desire moves through the social. She suggests that the affective capacities of assemblages can be “life affirming or life destroying“ (2011: 602). In this article we are interested in mapping flows of desire, moments of joy and possibility in moments of girlhood, and in the limitations and contingencies within these moments that shut down these possibilities. We suggest that the methodology of collective biography (Davies and Gannon 2006, 2009, 2013) offers potential for tracing the microparticulars of girlhood becomings.
Diana Espírito Santo
In this article I use my ethnographic data on an Afro-Cuban religion called Palo Monte to argue that ontologically discrepant ‘bits’ of the cosmos can become stuck together for particular purposes, at times producing ‘synchronicities’. I argue that the practitioners of this religion, Paleros, can be trained into producing synchronicities in the form of witchcraft. This coheres with a concept of self that can be seen as an assemblage rather than an essence. This article contributes to a person-centered theory of plasticity in relation to discussions on lenience. In Palo, discipline does not lie in molding one’s subjectivity or in searching for a deep self. Lenience is imperative as the principle with which the self articulates with its environment and itself.
This article explores some concerns about the concept of neo-liberalism, suggesting that it has been stretched too far to be productive as a critical analytical tool. Neo-liberalism suffers from promiscuity (hanging out with various theoretical perspectives), omnipresence (treated as a universal or global phenomenon), and omnipotence (identified as the cause of a wide variety of social, political and economic changes). Alternative ways of treating neo-liberalism as more contingent and contested are considered. These emphasize its mobile and flexible character, stressing processes of contextual assemblage, articulation, and translation. The article concludes by wondering whether the concept of neo-liberalism is now so overused that it should be retired.
Bodies, Girlhood and Popular Culture
Kristina Gottschall, Susanne Gannon, Jo Lampert and Kelli McGraw
Using a collective biography method informed by a Deleuzian theoretical approach (Davies and Gannon 2009, 2012), this article analyses embodied memories of girlhood becomings through affective engagements with resonating images in media and popular culture. In this approach to analysis we move beyond the impasse in some feminist cultural studies where studies of popular culture have been understood through theories of representation and reception that retain a sense of discrete subjectivity and linear effects. In these approaches, analysis focuses respectively on decoding and deciphering images in terms of their normative and ideological baggage, and, particularly with moving images, on psychological readings. Understanding bodies and popular culture through Deleuzian notions of “becoming“ and “assemblage“ opens possibilities for feminist researchers to consider the ways in which bodies are not separate from images but are, rather, becomings that are known, felt, materialized and mobilized with/through images (Coleman 2008a, 2008b, 2008c, 2009, 2011; Ringrose and Coleman 2013). We tease out the implications of this new approach to media affects through three memories of girls' engagements with media images, reconceived as moments of embodied being within affective flows of popular culture that might momentarily extend upon ways of being and doing girlhood.
A Diagram of Coordination in a Satoyama Forest
Elaine Gan and Anna Tsing
This article experiments with combining three concepts— coordination, assemblage, diagram—to make vivid the composition of a satoyama forest in central Japan. The forest comes to life as a more-than-human assemblage that emerges through coordinations established by evolutionary and historical accommodations to life cycles, seasonal rhythms, and activity patterns. These coordinations are expressed through a diagram of intersecting temporalities of people, plants, and woodlands that condition the flourishing or decline of wild matsutake mushrooms. Working diagrammatically, we can better articulate how juxtapositions of humans and non-humans become assemblages that hold together through coordinations—without a unified purpose or design. We argue that understanding coordination is key to more livable multispecies worlds.
State, people, wealth, life
Hardt and Negri's trilogy describes an American Empire as shaping a world split between global capital and disenfranchised multitude, leading to a final confrontation between the Empire of capital and the counter-Empire of workers everywhere. However, their interpretation is limited by their philosophical abstraction and revolutionary vision, which fails to recognize the implications of actually existing processes of sovereignty and capital at this global juncture. The situation found in Asia challenges their analysis. In contemporary China, experimental assemblages of sovereign powers, capital, techne, and ethics have not weakened, but, in fact, have strengthened political sovereignty, nationalist sentiments, and collectivist ethos, presenting a different picture of biopolitics from that of Hardt and Negri's global theory. The authoritarian outcomes in China are political solutions forged in circumstances that mingle the global, the historical, and the situated. This article argues that Asian aspirations are rearranging capitalism and political sovereignty as Hardt and Negri understand them.
Seeing and the Study of Religion
Opening with a review of leading accounts of the image as an object with agency, this article proposes to study religious images within the webs or networks that endow them with agency. The example of a well-known medieval reliquary serves to show how what I refer to as 'focal objects' participate in the creation of assemblages that engage human and non-human actors in the social construction of the sacred. Focal objects are nodal points that act as interfaces with the network, particularly with invisible agents within it. As participants in a network, images are like masks, offering access to what looks through the mask at viewers engaged in a complex of relations that constructs a visual field or the ecology of an image.
Reflections on Rootedness and Mobility
Francesca Bray, Barbara Hahn, John Bosco Lourdusamy and Tiago Saraiva
Crops are a very special type of human artifact, living organisms literally rooted in their environments. Crops suggest ways to embed rootedness in mobility studies, fleshing out the linkages between flows and matrices and thus developing effective frameworks for reconnecting local and global history. Our focus here is on the movements, or failures to move, of “cropscapes”: the ever-mutating ecologies, or matrices, comprising assemblages of nonhumans and humans, within which a particular crop in a particular place and time flourishes or fails. As with the landscape, the cropscape as concept and analytical tool implies a deliberate choice of frame. In playing with how to frame our selected cropscapes spatially and chronologically, we develop productive alternatives to latent Eurocentric and modernist assumptions about periodization, geographical hierarchies, and scale that still prevail within history of technology, global and comparative history, and indeed within broader public understanding of mobility and history.
The Algorithmics and Biopolitics of Race in Emerging Smart Border Practices and Technologies
Taking the Canada–U.S. border as a starting point to refl ect on emergent smart border practices, this essay analyzes the diff erential yet central place that race continues to hold in the regulation of mobilities through the technopolitical mechanism of the border. Against claims that smart borders off er a more scientifi c and “postracial” mode of border control, the essay off ers a situated conceptual refl ection on how race is currently being (re)shaped by the complex intersection of biopolitical and algorithmic forms of governmentality as they converge in border technologies. Th e essay proposes to think through four diff erent sets of smart border technologies that enact and track race as a biopolitical assemblage in particular ways, analyzing the associated perceptual codes each puts into play (biometric, movement sensing, drone, and databased). It closes by refl ecting on how these algorithmic technologies infl ect the biopolitical targeting of race and mobility in ways that serve to insulate smart border practices from democratic accoun tability.