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David James

Hegel associates 'subjective' freedom with various rights, all of which concern the subject's particularity, and with the demand that this particularity be accorded proper recognition within the modern state. I show that Hegel's account of subjective freedom can be assimilated to the 'positive' model of freedom that is often attributed to him because of the way in which the objective determinations of right (Recht) recognise the subject's particularity in the form of individual welfare. To this extent, the practical constraints to which individuals are subject in the modern state are not purely external ones, and the freedom which they enjoy within it is not merely subjective in kind. In exploring the role of certain practical forms of necessity in Hegel's account of civil society I show, however, that Hegel points to the existence of a group of people, the poor, who must be thought to lack subjective freedom, because they will experience the constraints to which they are subject as purely external ones. He also suggests the existence of a form of freedom that is merely subjective in kind, because it consists in a sense of absence of constraint that fails to reflect fully the practical forms of necessity that underlie civil society and constrain an individual's actions. The importance of the concept of necessity in Hegel's Philosophy of Right, as highlighted in the paper, demonstrates, moreover, that the emphasis on freedom found in recent interpretations of Hegel's social and political philosophy needs to be counterbalanced by greater recognition of the role played in it by this concept.

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Belonging

Comprehending Subjectivity in Vietnam and Beyond

Tine M. Gammeltoft

In this article I explore how a ‘belonging’ perspective can contribute to anthropological reflections on subjectivity and agency. On the basis of two ethnographic cases from Vietnam, I show how people tend to find their bearings in existentially difficult situations by placing themselves within concrete communities of others. Distinguishing between intersubjective, territorial, and political forms of belonging, I discuss anthropological approaches to belonging practices, highlighting the shared analytical assumptions that have underpinned anthropological use of the concept. By placing mutuality and responsiveness at the center of attention, I show that a belonging perspective can help us to think more carefully about the complex ways in which freedom and constraint intertwine in human lives.

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The Lacan Ward

Pharmacology and Subjectivity in Buenos Aires

Andrew Lakoff

This essay describes the use of medication by Lacanian psychoana- lysts in an acute psychiatric ward in Buenos Aires. In this chaotic and difficult setting, psychotropic drugs provided a way to sustain the object of psychoanalytic knowledge—patient subjectivity. Such drugs enabled the patient to speak—as long as such speech did not include discussions of medication. This ‘ironic’ use of medication was premised on a strict division of labor between the task of the physician and the task of the analyst—and, more fundamentally, on a distinction between the body and the subjectivity of the patient, known as ‘structuralist dualism’. In effect, physician-analysts in the ward gave medication not to treat the illness directly, but in order to remain Lacanian.

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Theorizing “The Plunge”

(Queer) Girls’ Adolescence, Risk, and Subjectivity in Blue is the Warmest Color

Michelle Miller

This article explores the graphic representation of queer adolescent sexuality on offer in the coming-of-age graphic novel Blue is the Warmest Color. This representation, read alongside object relations psychoanalysis and in terms of feminist sexuality education theorizing, invites adult readers to reconsider the ways in which we think of the relationship between girls, risk, and sexuality. I propose that in order to honor girls’ sexual subjectivity, we must treat romantic risk-taking as an ordinary, healthy and essential aspect of growing up.

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From In-Itself to Practico-Inert

Freedom, Subjectivity and Progress

Kimberly S. Engels

This article focuses on Sartre’s concept of the practicoinert in his major work A Critique of Dialectical Reason, Vol. 1 (CDR). I first show the progression from Sartre’s previous conception of in-itself to his concept of practico-inert. I identify five different layers of the practico-inert: human-made objects, language, ideas, social objects and class being. I show how these practico-inert layers form the possibilities for our subjectivity and how this represents a change from Sartre’s view of in-itself in Being and Nothingness. I then explore the relationship of freedom to the practico-inert and how Sartre argues that the practico-inert places limits on our freedom. Lastly, I argue that despite the pessimistic picture Sartre paints in CDR, the practico-inert has the potential to both limit and enhance our freedom. I appeal to Sartre’s post-CDR essay ‘A Plea for Intellectuals’ to argue that a Sartrean account of progress requires the utilisation of the practico-inert.

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Towards the Construction of a Nicer Life

Subjectivity and the Logic of Choice

Dikaios Sakellariou

In this article, I bring to the foreground the enactment of the logic of choice and focus on what happens when people are denied the interventions they choose. The specific interventions I focus on are home modifications. My aim is to show how people living with a chronic illness or disability interact with the logic of choice. Drawing from a narrative study on experiences of living with motor neurone disease, I present the narrative of one woman as she tries to enact a life that she can describe as good, or be er. Using empirical evidence, I explore some of the links between subjectivity and the logic of choice, focusing on the experiential knowledge that guides decision-making. In this article, I illustrate how people living with a chronic condition can enact subjectivity by choosing interventions that can a end to their social world.

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Perspectives of (and on) a Comedic Self

A Semiotics of Subjectivity in Stand-up Comedy

Marianna Keisalo

Current stand-up comedy relies on original expression, requiring the performer to develop a unique and engaging comedic viewpoint. This calls for the comedian to be able to shift between different, often contradictory, perspectives on the world and on him/herself and transmit them to audiences. Based on ethnographic research in Finland, I show how the stand-up comedian performs as both sign and sign-maker. As a sign-maker, the comedian is the contextual ground, the taken-for-granted source and frame of the performed material. As a sign, the comedian is a figure the audience needs to interpret and understand as part of the performance. More generally, my aim is to shed light on how cultural concepts of self, subjectivity, and person are engaged in the processes of developing and performing stand-up comedy.

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Lisa Lindén

This article investigates direct-to-consumer advertising in Sweden for Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, as a contemporary gendered technology of the adolescent girl body. It explores how, by constructing girls as ideal users of the vaccine, advertising campaigns encourage adolescent girls to vaccinate themselves. Using a feminist visual discourse analysis, the article examines how different girl subjectivities are constructed through advertising, and presented as fit for Gardasil use and consumption. It highlights how, along with their parents, adolescent girls in Sweden are encouraged to assume responsibility for managing the risks of cervical cancer in order to help secure their future health, sexuality and normality. It argues that the Gardasil campaign, in being addressed to individual members of the population, serves to articulate global and national discourses of girlhood, sexuality, (sexual) health responsibility, risk management and consumption.

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Governing through the Brain

Neuropolitics, Neuroscience and Subjectivity

Nikolas Rose and Joelle Abi-Rached

This article considers how the brain has become an object and target for governing human beings. How, and to what extent, has governing the conduct of human beings come to require, presuppose and utilize a knowledge of the human brain? How, and with what consequences, are so many aspects of human existence coming to be problematized in terms of the brain? And what role are these new 'cerebral knowledges' and technologies coming to play in our contemporary forms of subjectification, and our ways of governing ourselves? After a brief historical excursus, we delineate four pathways through which neuroscience has left the lab and became entangled with the government of the living: psychopharmacology, brain imaging, neuroplasticity and genomics. We conclude by asking whether the 'psychological complex' of the twentieth century is giving way to a 'neurobiological complex' in the twenty-first, and, if so, how the social and human sciences should respond.

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Fortune in the Wind

An Impersonal Subjectivity

Caroline Humphrey and Hürelbaatar Ujeed

For Mongols, fortune is not just acquired or lost accidentally. Rituals are held to create an upsurge of fortune, to beckon, absorb, contain, and act upon it. This article focuses on two kinds of fortune-sülde (potency) and hiimori (vitality)-and the ritualized means to restore these qualities that otherwise become depleted of their own accord. It is argued that these ideas of fortune are ways of linking subjects to cosmological forces 'out there'. The paradox is that, by binding fortune into their bodies in an attempt to garner invincibility, bravery, and energy, people resonate to pulses that glide among, and fly beyond, their other constitutive physical bodily elements. Such occasions when sülde and hiimori are in play call into being a certain kind of person who seems to be rendered, at least for a moment, at one with the void.