Saturday, October 23, 2010

defamiliarizing frameworks of connection

From Conference:


 Tuesday, 26 October –
Povinelli, Empire (whole book) [pic with others at Queer Bonds conf. 2009; former editor Public Culture; Wikipedia entry; Public Planet Books]

What are “Empires of Love?” How are each of the sections of the book about these? What is rotten in “Rotten Worlds?” How can radical fairies in the US belong in a book together with folks from Oenpelli, Australia? How can you connect this analysis with Tsing’s Friction around the frameworks of colonial societies? And what is Public Plant Books? What sort of political and intellectual project is it?

[see Ron Eglash's work for a different, STS-type, approach to a range of issues that might overlap -- note his work on knowledge worlds, ethnosciences, and self-organization or the work of Eben Kirksey on multi-species ethnography, for example at:]


"what I have been calling the autological subject (discourses, practices, and fantasies about self-making, self-sovereignty, and the value of individual freedom associated with the Enlightenment project of contractual constitutional democracies). ...persons attempting to make sex a minor form of spitting, or for whom sex is disseminated in some other way, are already apprehended by the nightmare of the liberal autological subject—what I have been calling the nightmare of the genealogical society (discourses, practices, and fantasies about various social constraints and psychic assaults on the autological subject by various kinds of inheritances). ¶ The question I am left with is how to create the conditions in which multiple forms of the body and communities thrive, not merely multiple forms of sexuality. This question understands ethics to be already entwined in power and its political formations, and it understands sexuality as no more or less central a corporeal, moral, or ethical position than any other practice of embodied communities."

17: "If you want to locate the hegemonic home of liberal logics and aspirations, look to love in settler colonies."
18: "the referent of liberal settler colonies is much wider than nation-states literally founded on the basis of colonial settlement, encompassing what I sometimes describe as the liberal diaspora -- an origin-less or origin-obscuring process of transformation in circulation that retroactively constitutes its beginning and center."

18: "Empire created and circulated poverty, trauma, and death globally, while claiming to create and foster wealth, happiness, and life, and it claimed a universal origin and end even as it was partial about its values and goals.... the more life-worlds and languages that liberal institutions and discourses absorbed, the more the tensions and contradictions between its ideal image and its actual practice increased, while suspicion grew that liberalism was an incoherent, ideology-driven system of exploitation."

45-6: "Maximally embodied social relations -- what I sometimes think of as thick life -- make physically and psychologically healthy persons. Because these discussions [as about sorrow] occur within the present-time of the settler colony, they also are always about the difference between the emphases that settler and indigenous people place on social relations and the self. At Belyuen this emphasis is sometimes put in terms of 'clean skin' (skin without sores, lice, scabies, or scars). To be within a socially thick world is to expose the skin to its play and its care.... // here at Belyuen, my flesh is always already stretched across multiple possible material anchors. In perhaps their most damning social analysis of settler societies, indigenous men and women from the northwest coast observe how comfortable white people are living alone, how they seem satisfied by the thinnest embrace of the conjugal couple, how they would rather be alone (gamaparrking) than have one little louse."

73: "being bound to my friends and family along the coast means that I can neither be with them nor with myself easily. I can tell my date that I am likely to continue to get these sores because I am likely to continue to return year after year to people whom I have known longer and more intimately than many in my biological family. But I also return there on the condition that I leave some aspects of my sexuality behind. ¶ As a result, the deeply personal relation has made me personally implausible, my political allegiances ackward. If I locate myself within a world of stranger sociality and the sexuality it entails, then I have separated myself because at this point who I am is unimaginable outside these twenty-one years of being in this family.... We are all vulnerable, but not equally so."

77-9: Ghoul heath: "one of the oldest tricks of the capitalist organization of global medicine." [It] refers to the global organization of the biomedical establishment, and its imaginary, around the idea that the big scary bug, the new plague, is the real threat that haunts the contemporary global division, distribution, and circulation of health.... plays on the real fear that the material distribution of life and death arising from the structural impoverishment of post-colonial and settler colonial worlds may have accidentally or purposefully brewed an unstoppable bio-virulence from the bad faith of liberal capital and its multiple geophysical tac //tics and partners. // ...The withdrawal of capital from regions after the severe extraction of resources and the resulting pollution of the environment.... The encouragement of a region to enter capitalist development quickly, bypassing the economic 'drag' of social services...."

Staph skin infections and MIRSA

155-6: "Cast outside genealogy by critical publics and juridical rulings, faeries fall back, or are pushed, into the disciplines of freedom -- but a severely qualified freedom. Read under the sign of 'homosexual,' radical faeries are barely equal citizens under the law. Understood as a religion, they straddle precariously the divide between the autological subject and the genealogical society. Radical faeries seem to be free, but they are then refused their freedom and refused a proper 'culture' in any deep (i.e., historical) or robust (socially governed) sense. Indigenous people face the opposite side of this discursive dynamic. They may be seen to have culture in the robustly genealogical sense -- biologically, socially, and culturally descendent -- but they're not 'free.' Lacking freedom, they teeter on the rim of humanity. It is not a surprise, then, that media and legal discussions revolve around how far their toes can dip into actual life before they lose whatever social, political, or economic compensations refus- // ing actual life might provide them. Nor is it a surprise that media and legal discussions of progressive alternative social groups revolve around the ethics and legality of appropriating other cultures, given the insistence these alternative groups be culturally stillborn and indigenous groups be culturally frozen."

157-8: "The play of sexuality among the radical faeries would seem to exemplify what Foucault had in mind when he reflected on practices of freedom as practices of critical transgression. One of his favorite rallying cries, 'Develop your legitimate strangeness,' could, after all, have been the banner of various queer hippie communes in the Bay Area during the 1970s.... // How do we invest actualities that operate just outside vision with the power to change dominant bio-epistemologies? For Foucault, the answer lay in cultivating practices of freedom that orient the subject to restless experimentation with the givenness of life, with how life might be otherwise than it is...."

autological self  

169: "If we treat sexuality and race as if they were the gourd and shells sitting on my desk, the problem becomes quite clear. What is and is not 'something' can be a matter of serious dispute, animating heated debates not only about the social status of a thing (a kind of person, object, mood), but also about what should be the evidential grounds for assessing competing claims about the status of a thing (an act, identity, heritage). But these decisions about who and what are an instance of one thing rather than another are also the covert presuppositions that allow us to go about our daily routines without much thought."

171-2: "many people within counter-publics, unregulated public spheres, and minority and subaltern groups neither // engage nor ignore the call to thematize/translate their practices and beliefs for a normative public; they neither ignore the integrating function of stipulating thematizations nor do they engage them in the sense of translating their life-worlds for others. Instead of the dialectics of recognition and translation, we are witnessing the emergence of a practice of espionage and transfiguration and of an orientation to the re-elaboration of the self rather than self-identity. In these social fields, the point well may be to reshape habitudes ahead of recognition, to test something out rather than translate it, not to produce meanings that can be translated, or embodiments that can be recognized."

174: "Experiments in sociality such as those engaged in by radical faeries are not, however, always as picturesque as the image of shaman channeling the spirit world might suggest. They are instead awkward, misfiring, malfunctioning social interactions, blurred moral lines between appropriate cultural borrowings and insensitive appropriations, all of which are sometimes, perhaps too often, deformed by accidental addictions and illnesses.... They are the struggles to build houses without money, to get care without health insurance, to speak a language of dependency when the broader political economy is increasingly oriented to the socially detached conjugal couple."

179: "Debates [about love] within and across these tables [disagreeing] arise not merely because participants cannot agree about what they are referring to when they refer to families, values, bodies, and sexualities. They also arise because people still dream of a form of equality that would hegemonize the entire social field, solving once and for all the difference of difference." "For some progressives, the point of loving is to thicken rather than thin out the social world."

182-3: "It is my contention that the phantom nature of the intimate event is a critical mechanism by which the history of the liberal present is written, liberal life constituted and distributed, liberal forms of evil apportioned and punishe, the good figured; and against which experiments in progressive mutual obligation beyond the conjugal couple and biological family are formulated. It is equally my contention that if the magical features of the intimate event are to be animated socially and // psychically, then others must be trapped in liberal intimacy's nightmare -- the genealogically determined collective."

184: "For a foundational event to bear the full weight of Enlightenment exceptionalism a set of conditions must be in play: [1] the constitution of the subject via the fantasy of self-referential enclosure; [2] the characterization of the fantastic self as the origin and basis of true freedom; [3] and the reduction of Right and Truth to this form of freedom."

184: "Foucault likewise noted that the price Europeans paid to free themselves from the external social constraints of familial, aristocratic, and religious power was to assume their own self-management and to constitute the government as its disciplinary apparatus. At this moment self-discipline emerged not only as a viable but also as a necessary practice of human freedom -- the telic and ontic truth of this man is not in his essence but in his obedience to a specific practice of self-performativity. ¶ How self-obedience came to be understood as self-autonomy and freedom is, of course, the subject of no little controversy both within and across disciplinary fields."

telic & ontic

190-1: "one of the key dimensions of the fantasy of intimate love is its stated opposition to all other forms of social determination even as it claims to produce a new form of social glue.... Because this kind of self-transformation  leans on the openness of other people to the same type of self-transformation, autological intimacy functions as a proselytizing religion. Like capital, intimacy demands an ever-expanding market.... // We literally reform the social by believing in and demanding this form of love.... for social theorists of the Western Enlightenment the power of the intimate event of self-sovereignty lay in its ability to connect the micro-practices of certain forms of love to the macro-practices of certain forms of state-governance and certain forms of capital production, circulation, and consumption -- to make a personal event a normative mission and a civilizational break. The semiotic operation of the intimate event so saturates the horizon of everyday life that it no longer seems a 'semiotic operation' but just the way people do things...."

194: "the intimate event is where I find myself and where I lose myself, where reason is subverted by desire rather than installed, where I am compelled more than compelling, where there is always more of me than I know what to do with. The very form itself absorbs me, swallows me up, and overwhelms me even as it agitates and detaches me. And the compelling fiction of the foundational event creates an anxiety as plural as it is incommensurate: Will I be isolated if this event does not strike me? ...If it does not strike me will I be left alone with social support or renewal? Will I be cast out?"

195-6: "all intimacies stretch between the actual and the possible, the long duration and the punctual, the singular and the general. What are the criteria by which we assess whether the event has happened to us or to others? How do we decide what is what -- what is love; what is lust; what is a // passing fancy?"

204: "If we are interested in the relationship between intimacy and the liberal diaspora, then we need to understand carnality as not merely a juridical and political maneuver, nor merely as a social tactic, but as a physical mattering, just as the intimate event and the genealogical so- // ciety are also physical matters, facts of carnality as well as of discourse."

213: "the tension between the contractual conjugal couple and the expansion of the genealogical grid instigated a struggle across all orders of society over these new disciplines of sexuality and kinship. The genealogical grid became a pervasive constraint at the very moment that the individual seemed to be freed from its dictates. Everyone was suddenly in real or potential danger of a dangerous liaison."

235: "Which will you have, stranger promiscuity (carnality) or intimate love? What, by contrast, might the practices of, say, an intimate promiscuity be? What new forms of freedom would be attached to such a thing? What if sexual promiscuity were seen as the best means toward an intimate end rather than what gets in the way of intimacy? Experimenting with new relationships between anonymous sex and intimate friendship would indeed upset the fabric of humanist discourse because it cut diagonally across carnality and intimacy, it refused their constitutive differences, or made use of them to increase the frisson of a sexual encounter and an intimate bed."

The Gregory Bateson Documentary 

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