Subjectivity

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Figurations of the living machine in film and television map contemporary crises of subjectivity. Centered on readings of Person of Interest and Westworld, this essay describes figurations of living machine subjectivity that foreground traumatic memory. In these texts, trauma is used as a means of territorializing subjectivity, allowing for the imposition of a figuration of a disciplined individual subject in the face of the dividual swarming of societies of control.
 
The EU is generally understood in terms of its construction as a normative power. The 2020 democratic crisis in Belarus, however, shows an EU that is unwilling to exercise its responsibility as such. With a response to the crisis that can be summed up as a series of targeted sanctions and some restrictive measures, the EU’s resistance towards deeper involvement in the democratic crisis of a bordering state is notable. At the same time, the EU continues to articulate a discourse that necessitates its involvement. Drawing on Jason Glynos’ work on how fantasmatic narratives structure affective investment, I explore the misalignment between the EU’s discursive response and its actual response, and discuss the impact of such upon the capability of the EU to produce the emotional investment into its ideas necessary for its constitution as a community.
 
In this article, I develop the notion of self-othering defined as the affective orchestration of different voices-of-the-self as an important self-constitutive practice of neoliberal subjectivity. I posit that neoliberal subjectification relies on othering those facets—skills, attributes, bodily properties—that do not conform to idealised notions of the self. By applying this conceptual lens to empirical material drawn from a qualitative research project on women’s identity negotiations, my aim is to show that affect, notably what feels right/wrong, plays a crucial role in aligning the body with neoliberal culture. The affective-discursive approach to analysing the dialogical self I propose is based on a problematisation of neoliberal logic and thus draws attention to the normativity of affect. The analysis of practices of self-othering lays bare how certain voices and ways of being become unsayable. However, their presence in people’s self-constructions also suggests that they could be re-articulated to formulate a counter ideal.
 
For nearly four decades, neoliberalism has established itself as a new modernizing project amidst the salience of other narratives of modernization, especially in "underdeveloped" societies. Thus, the subject of neoliberalism has had to interact with conceptions of the subject pertaining to other narratives of modernization, such as nationalism. The purpose of this article is then to analyze the interaction between different conceptions of the subject brought about by competing narratives of modernization; that is, by different lineal stories about the progress towards the elusive ideal of civilization. Through the findings derived from a content analysis of Qatar National Vision 2030, which is a government development plan aimed to transform Qatar's economy from hydrocarbon-based to knowledge-based, the article shall illustrate the tensions created by the interaction between different subjectivities enacted by competing narratives of modernization in the Third World, as well as some of their implications for gendered bodies.
 
The relationship between ‘philosophy’ and the ‘geo’ has received renewed attention with the rise of the terrestrial and the planetary as leitmotifs for thinking about the collective subjectivation of particular kinds of world. In some of these conversations, this relationship is developed to consider how social collectives emerge with the production of particular kinds of territorial abstraction. Three decades since Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari published What is Philosophy?, book that has a lasting legacy in developing geophilosophy as a particular mode of transcendental empirical enquiry, this special issue revisits the relationship between geophilosophy and the production of an alternative sense of the earth. In this introduction, we approach geophilosophy in its pluralism by showing how the concept does not only concern the question of how to retain a sense of difference and contingency in thought, but also concerns a mode of enquiry that presents opportunities to experiment with alternative forms of collective subjectivation. Assaying the legacy of Deleuze and Guattari’s geophilosophy on contemporary forms of earth-thinking, the article identifies the unique demands and geophilosophical possibilities taken up by the contributors to this issue that question how to recuperate another sense of the earth.
 
In this paper, I draw on ethnographic fieldwork to develop a conversation between Deleuze and Guattari’s geophilosophy (Deleuze and Guattari in What is philosophy?, Verso Books, London, 1994: pp. 85–113) and concepts within and findings from empirical fieldwork exploring religion, faith and everyday belief systems. This leads to some new ways of thinking about faith and draws parallels between religion as a mode of ‘thinking through figures’ (1994, p. 89), in contrast to faith as a way of ‘being connected rather than being projected’ (1994, p. 92). Through geophilosophy I develop a way to understand the changing contextual meanings people give to faith and/or religion. For example, people of the same faith or religion may often believe in such different ways that they cannot recognize the faith held by the other person as being the same as their own. They speak the same language but do not understand each other. (Deleuze and Guattari in What is Philosophy? Verso Books, London, 1994: p. 110).
 
In this article, I propose to take up and give new relevance to an intuition that W. James developed in Pragmatism: « things tell a story». I take this proposition as literally as possible: a physical entity, a living being, a technical object, would tell stories by themselves, in the materiality of their existence, in their very bodies. The stories would not be about how humans relate to more-than-human realities, but they would be the very matrix of things. James called for a change of perspective: “The center of gravity of philosophy must therefore alter its place. The earth of things, long thrown into shadow by the glories of the upper ether, must resume its rights.” How to give back to the earthly things their rights? By which mode of knowledge would it be possible to follow these stories? This is a whole program that James announces with ontological, epistemological, and political dimensions, and that finds today, in the context of the “new climate regime,” all its relevance.
 
How does something like the Earth generate philosophy? This is the question of geophilosophy, which forms one of the central political claims in Deleuze and Guattari's work. Only when philosophy recognizes itself as the expression of the prephysical forces that bring the planetary into being does a genuine ethics of the future becomes possible.
 
With the invention of the concept of ‘geophilosophy’, Deleuze and Guattari did not intend to invoke a new subfield of philosophy; for them, all philosophy is geophilosophy by virtue of its constitutive relationship with contingency. What is less well understood, however, are the implications of Deleuze and Guattari’s geophilosophical approach for how we think about subjectivity today. Working against phenomenological forms of ‘earth-thinking’ that tend to reduce the ‘geo-’ to a phenomenological concept of ‘world’, Deleuze and Guattari conceptualize the earth as an immanent plane of forces that both precedes and exceeds the subject. Turning to Deleuze’s earlier essay on the literature of Michel Tournier, this paper offers a reading of geophilosophy in which aesthetic practices help us to grapple with the unthought forces of the earth beyond the phenomenological logic of world, and where art itself becomes a process that radically refigures our sense of what subjectivity can become.
 
In this article, I argue that Deleuze and Guattari’s famous trope about “an earth and a people that are lacking” in the Geophilosophy chapter of What Is Philosophy? must be examined through a specific assemblage: the necessity for shame—as a powerful, non-psychological, and nonhuman affect—to enter philosophy itself both to resist stupidity and to include all the disfranchised of classical Reason. I then turn to Isabelle Stengers’ work against stupidity to determine how this assemblage can help us give shape to new multispecies apparatuses in the face of the Anthropocene. As a conclusion, I show that, through such apparatuses, shame truly becomes a geophilosophical force.
 
Comparison of Mall Carpark in and out of Lockdown
Comparison of inside the mall in and out of Lockdown
The smell of hot cooking food from the carvery
The smell of coffee and perfume from inside the mall
Comparison of Senior Citizens Hall in and out of Lockdown
How does the COVID-19 pandemic shape subjectivity? This paper is concerned with contributing to theorising subjectivity at an ontological level. It draws on a feminist new materialist understanding of subjectivity as an intra-active becoming of human-non-human matter that includes smell. Smellwalks are mobilised to apprehend how subjectivity is altered via restrictions around movement and social connection during lockdown. This sensory method recognises knowing is not simply a cognitive practice and that odour actively shapes understandings of ourselves and the world. The varying presence and absence of odours in and out of lockdown eventuate a re-arrangement of subjectivity which draws on Vannini’s (2020) notion of atmospheric dis-ease. Lockdown produces a subjectivity of dis-ease which generates changes in perception of self and others, as sources of potential viral contagion. Lockdown’s material conditions engender a ‘socially flattened’ and ‘suspended subjectivity’ as our ‘normal’ selves are experienced as being put on hold until the global crisis abates.
 
Affect theory raises greater awareness of non-representational forces in social life that can shape different levels of subjectivity in ways that may not be immediately known to the subjects. In outbreaks of mass hysteria when subjects are suddenly exposed to bizarre and extreme behaviors, the question of affect becomes a key to understanding how their subjectivity is impacted by situations that seemingly slip immediate control. Hysterical subjectivity occurs not from unconscious forces but from affective contagions spreading throughout network assemblages. These are flows of fear and conflict that with non-conscious influences constitute the new forces of mass encounters. In these encounters, micro-flows of imitation are automatized by various assemblages of intention and action to produce repeatable contagions of affects and behaviors. The occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the power of these flows as facilitating a global affectivity of mass hysteria. It is an affectivity in which imitation takes on a central role as technology of the social for the behavioral control of mass populations. Ubiquitous mask-wearing in the pandemic is not only seen as a prophylactic against viral infection but also intended as a mandated form of mimicry for propagating the new politics of virality. These are politics that empower fear as an agent of cascading contagions paralyzing social, cultural, and economic life around the world.
 
From a socio-anthropological consideration of psychoanalysis, we propose the dream as a way to access the study of malaise and as a territory for social research. The Transdisciplinary Laboratory in Social Practices and Subjectivity (LaPSoS) presents its theoretical and methodological contributions through a study entitled, "Everyday life, dreams and adolescent malaise". We outline the data collection protocol and its analysis matrix. We conclude by identifying research possibilities in the oneiric realm in which the tool of free association, a psychoanalytic method of dream interpretation put at the service of social research, made it possible to trace articulations between problems classically considered as either individual or social. This same method allowed the participants to guide the interpretation from their own associations. We propose that dreams are a relevant terrain for the study of contemporary subjectivities.
 
A commercial advertisment for a Spanish wholesale fruit distributor. Source: Alimarket, 2013
A commercial advertisment for an Italian logistics provider. Source: Eurofruit Magazine, 2012
A commercial advertisment for Maersk Line. Source: Eurofruit Magazine, 2011
A commercial advertisment for a German marine insurance company. Source: Eurofruit Magazine, 2012.
We relate logistics—the process of distributing merchandise—to the production of subjectivity—the process of creating forms of experience through mediations. We turn to logistics as a field where processes of subjectivation can be observed, but also as the framework for the theoretical analysis of processes of subjectivation. After asking why logistics lacks a strong public imaginary and reflecting critically on the dualist distinction instrumental/expressive, we will analyze three general features of some kinds of subjectivity that are typical of contemporary consumer societies: the cancelation of spacetime that separates desire and satisfaction, the need to compatibilize standardization and diversification, and the tension between rational calculation and an unpredictability of the processes which are subjected to a calculation which is due to the mediations that the calculation itself introduces. Our perspective is posthumanistic and cultural, taking as reference an ethnographic study carried out in different empirical locations linked to logistics.
 
This article articulates the practice of learning to feel taught in an Amsterdam yoga studio. Tattva Yoga constitutes one localized manifestation of postural yoga practices flourishing within neoliberal systems worldwide. As a scene of adjustment (Berlant, in Cruel optimism, Duke University Press, Durham, 2011) to conditions of precarity which shape the everyday lives of participants, Tattva Yoga encourages students to cultivate feelings of flexibility, openness, and balance. A close reading of Tattva Yoga practices identifies a performative logic to feeling, through which embodied action constitutes a form of subject cultivation. The case study, thus, offers an exploration of feeling as the intersection of body, subject, affect, and discourse, and as one means through which individuals enact subjectivities both continuous with and alternate to the demands of precarity.
 
This article discusses how the constant pressure for young people to optimise themselves, to become the masters of their lives and to enjoy life to the full, instead of leading towards a new empowered citizenship, can also be experienced as an existential burden. It does so by engaging with the most recent research literature on youth studies concerning the agency/structure debate, which will be illustrated with results from a European project on youth participation. This literature will be discussed against the background of Hegelian philosophy, where it will be argued that structure is not as much a negative entity constraining people’s lives but a necessary feature of agency. The article finishes with a short exploration of Greta Thunberg’s political engagement, as an example of what universal politics could mean amidst a world permeated by identity politics.
 
This paper uses affect theory to interrogate the politics of disability and rehabilitation. Drawing on observational research of the clinical interactions between young men with muscular dystrophies, their parents, and practitioners, we argue affect theory engages disability politics, both within and outside the clinical space. Looking to the foundational work of Spinoza, refracted through writings by Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Hasana Sharp, we argue affect theory promotes the political goals underpinning disability theory and the critical rehabilitation sciences. Here we focus on to the politics of breathing within the rehabilitation encounter. By locating disability politics in affective arrangements we chart a “politics of expression.” We contrast these politics with phenomenology, which emphasizes meaning over bodily affirmation. Critical disability politics and clinical politics are simply the politics of expression by another name. They allow us to address both individual impairments and social exclusion in one and the same breath.
 
This article has two key contributions. The first is empirical, and looks at how a Danish drug treatment agency, inspired by critical and post-modern approaches to psychology, has developed methods of overcoming problems of participation and stigmatization, and of empowering young people with a known history of illegal substance use. I will analyze how, in collaboration with social workers, young users can utilize media technologies to produce stories about new ways of being, feeling and acting, and how these are used to change the social dynamics around such young people and open for the becoming of new relational subjectivities. Using Governmentality studies as a foundation, the second contribution is analytical and theoretical, and proposes Heidegger’s concept of ‘Stimmung’, (attunement, mood, atmosphere) as a concept that makes it possible to analyze how discursive and affective strategies intra-act and how we can adequately theorize the role of affect in subjectification processes.
 
Kiran Desai's Inheritance of Loss revolves around questions of identity and entities flawed by a deep sense of deprivation and loss left by colonization that manifests itself in various forms through generations. The novel chronicles the lives of an Anglophile Indian judge, Jemubhai Patel, whose educational sojourn in Britain permanently brands him as an alien both abroad and in his homeland, and of his orphaned 16-year-old granddaughter Sai, her tutor/lover Gyan, and Patel’s cook who pushes his son, Biju, to go seek his fortune in America. This paper seeks to discuss the lives of Jemubhai and Biju as it tracks the role of the city and its impact on the construction of their identities. This impact factor is further analyzed through affective theory, namely Jose Munoz’s concept of “disidentification,” a tactic of survival by which minoritarian subjects either consciously or unconsciously “neither assimilate nor strictly oppose the dominant regime.”
 
Based on an ethnographic take on Malmö Community Theater, this article focuses on the method of devising in theater to explore the labor of community-building it generated in terms of performative alliances, embodied translations, affective negotiations and resource (re)distribution. Particular attention is paid to the negotiation of gendered/racialized narratives that have been central to the border-making practices of the European states and the place-making practices of newcomers. Departing from Levinas' work on intersubjectivity and Gilroy's conceptualization of conviviality, this article argues that convivial encounters that are not based on a shared history may need to be facilitated by community-building labor for intersubjective becoming to be rendered possible, and can be sustained through the unfolding of alterity rather than the recognition of commonality. The article also argues that ethnographical methods are well-suited to capture the factors and processes that feed into the making and unmaking of emerging subjectivities.
 
In this article, I explore the interplay of abjection, space and resistance at the example of a protest intervention that reclaims a highly policed urban space in the city of Leipzig (Saxony, Eastern Germany)—the Main Station. Methodologically, I combine ethnographic material collected throughout the process of a performative counter-action attempting to reclaim and re-imagine Leipzig Main Station as a venue and politicized space with a contextual analysis regarding the discursive landscape evolving around and shaping this urban locale. My empirical analysis is structured along the theoretical discussion of abjection: While Butler's theorization (Butler in Bodies that matter, Routledge, New York, 1993) allows me to focus on the formative power of spatial exclusion and the disruptive potential of protest, theoretical accounts in which abjection is conceived as a “threshold zone” or “overlap space” (Sharkey and Shields in Child Geogr 6:239–256, 2008; Vighi et al. in Between urban topographies and political spaces. Threshold experiences, Lexington Books, Lanham, 2014) help me to outline ‘abject space’ as a space of negotiation and contradiction.
 
Zineb Sedira, Mother, Father and I (2003)
An abundance of creative work dealing with the French–Algerian War has recently emerged, with writers, filmmakers, and artists grappling with the traumatic traces it has left behind. Applying an approach to memory inspired by queer theory, this article explores how the effects of a colonial past are evidenced not only via recollections of those involved, but also through the ways in which they are negotiated by subsequent generations. This article analyzes two works that address such intergenerational memories—Zineb Sedira’s installation Mother, Father and I and Leïla Sebbar’s novel The Seine Was Red—both of which take a deconstructive approach that is inescapably queer in its capacity to create new forms of affective transmission and to disrupt progress-oriented temporality. Sedira and Sebbar highlight how memories are neither linear nor teleological, but are instead palimpsests that overlay one another in a fabric of traces that haunt familial dynamics and urban landscapes.
 
Tracing the emergence of the scenario technology and key shifts in how it is used, we argue that scenarios represent a new way of governing future uncertainty. We analyse two of the most influential approaches to the technology—those of Herman Kahn and Pierre Wack. In the first, scenarios emerge as a solution to an ontological problem of future uncertainty—a solution that seeks to use imagination as a form of reasoning about the future (Mode I scenarios). In the second, however, scenarios appear as a solution to an epistemological problem—a way of challenging and changing perceptions, of remediating one’s perception of the world and accepting its uncertainty. That is, scenarios become a way of entering into an uncertain sensibility and a particular mode of experience and practice related to and centred on uncertainty—a new mode of subjectivation. We refer to this as Mode II scenarios.
 
Female-perpetrated sexual abuse (FSA) is often seen as rare and of little consequence. Confessing to being a victim of FSA is infrequent and often met with incredulity. Identifying as such a victim is thus often a response to an incitement to speak in the mode of confession. Interviews producing the possibility for such confessions were conducted with ten self-identified South African FSA victims and then analysed using a Foucauldian approach. In identifying as victims of FSA the participants drew on psychologised, gendered accounts of damage reflected in trauma, revictimisation, memory loss, the cycle of abuse and deviance. An analysis of these accounts demonstrates how confessional sites, such as the (psychological) interview, anchor victim worthiness in damage so that ‘non-normative’ victims of violence are able to see themselves in sexual violence discourse as forever compromised subjects whose healing requires rethinking the relationship between gender, sexuality, and violence in contemporary South Africa.
 
Currently, municipal schools in Denmark face reforms and political demands for organizational change (EVA in Ledelse tæt på undervisning og læring : erfaringer fra fire skoler med gode ledelsespraksisser, 2015). The perception is now commonly held that it is necessary to radically rethink the entire set up of the institutional school towards a more flexible, adaptable and co-operative organization (Irgens and Jensen in Skolen som kunnskapsorganisasjon. Utdanning, nr.3,1. februar, 2008). This paper explores an empirical case, where a school is implementing a device called ‘flexible timetables’ in an attempt to depart from former fixed structures and private teaching practices. By combining process thought and liminality theory, the paper offers a theoretical framework for understanding some of the dynamics and unintended consequences of this transformation process. In so doing the paper calls attention to some important limits to the vision of flexibility and openness that informs this program of organisational change and subjectivity. Flexible timetables are conceptualized as a liminal affective technology (Stenner and Moreno-Gabriel in Subjectivity 6(3):229–253, https://doi.org/10.1057/sub.2013.9, 2013), designed to disrupt structures supporting former institutional practices, and to engender circumstances that are describable in terms of liminal experience. We use the concept of liminal affectivity to describe the collective atmosphere of ambivalence and volatility that is summoned through the intervention. We also draw attention to certain unexpected side effects, as when the participants experience themselves both paralysed by the ensuing paradoxes, and captured in dynamics of polarisation (Greco and Stenner in Theory Psychol 27(2):147–166, https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354317693120, 2017). The paper proposes the concept liminal affective leadership wherein the use of the technology is framed as a continuously sensitive balancing of the volatile liminal affectivity that it induces.
 
The formation of subjects’ temporal frames of thought and action has long been central to the study of social stratification. However, theorisation of these processes has tended to focus on highly institutionalised environments in the global North. By contrast, the peripheries of Brazilian cities constitute “heterogeneous fields” of subjectivity formation, in which state institutions act in highly uneven ways and coexist with other actors and processes. To account for these contextual differences, this article proposes we reimagine linear processes of social reproduction, characteristic of structuralist models, as processes of “individuation”, whereby subjects emerge through interaction with heterogeneous pre-individual fields. As they individuate, subjects encounter diverse “rhythms”, generating experiences of “eurhythmia” and “arrythmia” that influence individual decisions and shape life trajectories. To illustrate the approach, these analytical tools are applied to case studies of three young people drawn from ethnographic research conducted in the periphery of São Paulo.
 
This article explores how childhood memories served as a rich resource in women’s formations as maternal subjects. So affectively loaded is the child figure, and so diffuse and malleable are memories, that the remembered child appeared in women’s narratives in multiple figurations and served multiple functions. These memories incited the intensive multidimensional labors of the middle-class mother while also curbing and critiquing these labors, as well as a resource to imagine being mother otherwise. Women’s childhood memories highlight the ways that neoliberalism’s heightened stakes and increased competition for middle-class reproduction lodge themselves into women’s labors and psyches. Yet they also point to perspectives and desires outside of normative neoliberal femininities associated with the middle-class. Their narratives enrich accounts of being and becoming mom as a field of dreams, desires, and memories where past, present, and future time intersect in non-linear ways.
 
This paper claims that maps and the “act of mapping” have the capacity to disrupt symbolic horizons concerning representations of space constructing aesthetic, political and subjective worldviews. These worldviews constitute modes of subjectivity that challenge the notion of the Cartesian subject, and put forward a “situated” concept of subjectivity. Through an intertextual analysis of Deleuze and Guattari, and Heidegger’s late essay “Building Dwelling Thinking,” Moro pursues a possible redefinition of mapping as assemblage or gathering point of the fourfold. This redefinition in turn indicates the becoming-space of a narration that constitutes particular kinds of world views and subjectivities. The lines between narration, mapping, and mythology are further blurred in recent art projects, where through the ‘cartographic imagination’ artists deliberately deconstruct the rational appearance of the map to expose current political impasse in a globalized world.
 
In a decade deeply marked by renewed calls for racial equality and decolonisation culminating in the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement globally, the thought of no single thinker has resonated more profoundly with our contemporary political moment than that of Frantz Fanon. I argue that the temptation, in the reception of Fanon’s thought since the 1980s, to ontologise aspects of Fanon’s analysis of colonialism—either in the name of the overarching ambivalence of all social identities or in the name of the absolute specificity of Blackness—obscures the ways in which Fanon claimed that his examination of the colonial situation breaks with traditional ontologies. Through an examination of Fanon’s deployment of the Sartrean concept of ‘the situation’ and the comparisons he draws in his psychiatric writings between workplace management techniques and racist societies, I show how Fanon sought to think simultaneously the specificity of anti-Black racism and the resolutely modern ways in which it is reproduced.
 
(https://www.biennialfoundation.org/2017/04/winter-america-2017-whitney-biennial/).
Image: Vaporization. 2002. Installation view in ‘Mexico City: An Exhibition about the Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values’ at MoMA PS1.
In this article, we mobilize a theoretical and political critique to the aesthetic and affect that informs ‘white innocence’ and its attempts at witnessing the pain of the Other. Engaging with the work of critical race theorists we put the artistic interventions of Hannah Black and Parker Bright critique of Dana Shutz’s Open Casket in conversation with Teresa Margolles’ Vaporization. In doing so, we explore the epistemological, affective, and aesthetic dimensions involved in the desire of whiteness to transcend its own matrix of race-power and aestheticization of black suffering. That is, instead of anti-racist and transformative, Schutz’s piece, in our view, remains caught within a Manichean subject/object relationship constituted by a curative relation of mastery and servitude that is inextricably contained with and by the ontology of whiteness. We argue that this dynamic of ‘pornotroping’ mobilizes an aesthetics of hailing and identification that reaffirms white innocence. Margolles’ Vaporization, on the other hand, compels us to engage the space, corporality, and epistemology of flesh outside of the subject/object divide, while confronting us with multiplicities of embodiment as experienced through art and social productions.
 
Is there a distinctive form of political agency that emerges from the conditions of ‘death-bound subjectivity’? Fanon’s idea of the zone of nonbeing suggests that this is indeed the case. Yet there is an omission in the secondary literature on Fanon in this respect. While a renowned Fanon scholar like Lewis Gordon usefully explores how the zone can be understood as domain of ontological erasure, he typically fails to elaborate on the revolutionary potential of the concept. The nature of the psychical processes underlying this passage to revolutionary agency remains unclear. Of such agency we might ask: what is the animating factor that underlies, that drives the passionate attachment to such death-bound causes? Lacan’s reconceptualization of the death drive as ethical cause—which, to be sure, represents a dramatic departure from the original Freudian conceptualization of a ‘death instinct’—is presented here as a useful auxiliary concept to Fanon’s zone of nonbeing. With speculative reference to the ethical dimension of the Lacanian death drive as a mode of surplus life which both underlies an unceasing fidelity to a cause and delivers the subject to a zone between life and death, we are able to offer an account of the agency of radical negativity that the zone of nonbeing engenders.
 
This paper offers a reading of Sharon Sliwinski’s Mandela’s Dark Years: A Political Theory of Dreaming. Sliwinski reflects on Nelson Mandela’s dream-life while he was incarcerated on Robben Island, and the ways in which his dreams, which staged for him the affect of racial oppression, may have contributed to his judgment of apartheid and his concept of freedom. While acknowledging the productivity of this framing of Mandela’s dream-life—it should interest anyone concerned with political subjectivity, sovereignty, and modes of resistance—the paper develops two lines of critique. The first underlines the political implications of two Kantian concepts Sliwinski utilises to characterise Mandela’s intellectual contribution to the world: the sublime and enlarged thought, both of which are part of a discourse on disinterested reflection and aesthetic judgment. The second offers a psychoanalytic formulation of Mandela’s dreams different to the one Sliwinski proposes, placing childhood wishes, the death drive, and the postal system more centrally than they are in Mandela’s Dark Years. Linking these two lines, the objectives here are: to reconsider a certain Kantianism within psychoanalysis, and to abide by what in Mandela’s thought might trouble disinterested reflection and implicate it, as well as any psychoanalytic approach to dreams of freedom, in the very violence against which Mandela fought. Ultimately, it is an argument for a postcolonial psychoanalysis that might learn from Mandela’s example.
 
Still frame from Aliki Saragas, dir. 2017. Strike a Rock. Prod. Aliki Saragas, Liani Maasdorp and Anita Khanna. Uhuru Productions. DVD
Taking the film Strike a Rock (dir. Saragas 2017) as a case study, this paper attends to the affective charge of rocks and rubbish—in their material, symbolic, aesthetic and archival forms—as a feminist challenge to violent extractivism’s intergenerational echo. Set in Nkaneng, a township adjacent to the Lonmin Platinum mine in Marikana, where in 2012 the South African police opened fire on a group of striking miners, the film traces some of the means by which local women have been negotiating enduring forms of political and economic impasse in their communities. This paper tests an anthrodecentric approach to extractive capitalism’s historical exploitation of mineral, mechanical, muscular and psychic energies as a means to accelerating resistance to forms of violence at once human and ecological. It identifies in Strike a Rock’s documentary aesthetics an energy archive that animates resistant, regenerative political modalities of post-apartheid feminist affect.
 
Academic work and teaching in academia are undergoing major changes in the present neoliberal era. Our purpose in this article is to explore theoretically and in practice how to bring criticality and resistance to life through teaching in the academy and to demonstrate it is not necessarily always a narrative of success. The article is based on our experiences as critical scholars struggling to find ways to contribute to questions of education and social justice, both individually and jointly, over the past twenty years. In this article, we particularly want to examine some of the possibilities and challenges of bringing homo politicus back into the agenda of education.
 
While recent research has made progress in analytically disentangling “nationalism” from “populism”, the question that is left unanswered is why, from an empirical standpoint, populist movements typically impinge on national(ist) modalities. I argue that this impasse is encountered because research has not yet comprehensively examined the manner, and the extent to which, nationalism comes to be imbricated in the spatiotemporal organization of power relations, through which political subjectivities emerge. I argue that nationalism should be understood as a “hegemonic milieu” that comes to be consolidated through the broad but uneven symbolic dispersion of national(ist) modalities in “spatial” configurations, where heterogeneous affective referents come to be consolidated in reference to “the nation”. Thus, the temporal unfolding of political subjectivities in the “populist moment”—which beholds subversive potential—will inevitably dovetail into already-structurated experiences that are diversely marked by nationalist modalities. Nationalist populism is therefore deemed to inhere in the structure-freedom nexus.
 
Academic work and teaching in academia are undergoing major changes in the present neoliberal era. Our purpose in this article is to explore theoretically and in practice how to bring criticality and resistance to life through teaching in the academy and to demonstrate it is not necessarily always a narrative of success. The article is based on our experiences as critical scholars struggling to find ways to contribute to questions of education and social justice, both individually and jointly, over the past 20 years. In this article, we particularly want to examine some of the possibilities and challenges of bringing homo politicus back into the agenda of education.
 
By positioning academic rankings as the telos of audit culture, the paper tries to demonstrate the transformative political reason that is immanent to the emergence of rankings. Given the imperatives in historical capitalism both to govern and to accumulate, rankings are analysed as an apparatus of social transformation for the production of more governable subjectivities for capital. The paper presents how rankings operate as one of the material-semiotic-affective apparatuses of capitalist governmentality, and how that apparatus both is constituted as a system of objects and in turn constitutes subjects of control. Perhaps most significantly, by understanding rankings simultaneously as ‘semiologies of signification’ and ‘asignifying semiotics’, a dialectical space of struggle over subjectivity production can be realised and a praxis of counter-conduct and resistance be conceived.
 
As critical theories center on co-emergent interspecies relationalities, psychoanalysis continues to reproduce a fantasy of narcissistic omnipotence and exceptionalism. But theories of interspecies becoming have failed to adequately address human ambivalence and conflicts of interest that are inherent in their ideals of dispersive agencies and unfolding potentialities/uncertainties. There is still a need for a theory of subjectivity that can explore the ongoing processes of human disavowals and dissociations that reify the human exceptionalism motivating planetary destruction. Psychoanalysis remains one of the only theories of subjectivity that creates space for ambivalence, conflict, and unconscious motivations. This paper melds psychoanalytic theories of the non-human with critical and indigenous theories of interspecies emergence, to create a space where dispersive agencies, unconscious ambivalences, and the potentialities of multiple temporalities can be held.
 
This article searches for a way of theorizing the interconnectedness of processes of individuation, relationality and affect, with the aim of clearing the ground for an approach that establishes the basis of this interconnectedness by to mechanisms common to all living things. It establishes a number of shifts that enable us to think the categories and concepts like the individual, the subject, the group, the threshold, relationality, co-implication and so on according to a fundamental decentring, finally breaking with both subject-centredness and its privilege of the individual as model or starting point; the same epistemological shift implies the rejection of the anthropocentric divide between humans and animals, while avoiding species of sociobiologism, pre-formationism, geneticism and other monocausal paradigms. What the new problematic of life enjoins us to rethink are the standpoint of singularity rather than that of the individual, coupled to the standpoint of relationality as a principle enabling us to think the self–other, human–animal, nature–culture and human–world in terms of compossibility and complex becoming. This view about the co-constitution of all life has major implications regarding responsibility for the other and responsibility for the world, grounded in the standpoint of the temporality and historicity of being as existential condition circumscribing the relation to the other. This shift at the level of ontology is explored via an engagement with the work of Simondon and his conceptual apparatus, particularly ideas of psychic and collective individuation, the pre- and transindividual and the associated milieu; this perspective is re-articulated by way of the work of Merleau-Ponty, Haraway’s notion of ‘companion species’, Ettinger’s concept of the ‘I–other plurality’ and cognate concepts that point to a new terrain for theorizing affect.
 
Top-cited authors
Adele Clarke
  • University of California, San Francisco
Vincanne Adams
  • University of California, San Francisco
Derek William Hook
  • Duquesne University
Dimitris Papadopoulos
Valerie Walkerdine
  • Cardiff University