Tag Archives: Michael Foucault

North Korea Is Not a Threat – Unveiling Hegemonic Discourses

That security is socially constructed does not mean that there are not to be found real, material conditions that help to create particular interpretations of threats, or that such conditions are irrelevant to either the creation or undermining of the assumptions underlying security policy. Enemies, in part, “create” each other, via the projections of their worst fears onto the other; in this respect, their relationship is intersubjective. To the extent that they act on these projections, threats to each other acquire a material character.
-Ronnie Lipschutz, UCSC

Kim Jong-Il wants attention. And now he has it. He won’t go in our ‘Morons of the Week’ column and certainly scores points for knowing how to misuse national resources to get international attention.

Our problem with MSM coverage of the North Korea ‘missile threat’ is with the purported hegemonic discourse. Hegemonic discourse does not pertain to just speech; it refers to whole narratives, with a hero and a villain, and us and them that we must defeat and overcome. The point of hegemonic discourse–in this case the discourse of the United States on demonizing North Korea and drawing attention to its nuclear activities—is to subjugate and oppress the counter-discourses of a race-war, nuclearism and anti-capitalism.

(1) Race war discourse

While this is not a clash of civilizations, it is certainly a race war in that the entire discourse revolves around preventing certain kinds of people from acquiring and using nuclear weapons.  Would the United States use the same tactics in France? Or even India? No, in fact it looked the other way on outrageous French nuclear testing in the Pacific and supports India’s nuclear program despite the fact that it is not a signatory of the NPT!

Ronnie Lipschutz has some fine lines for us in On Security:

To be sure, the United States and Russia do not launch missiles against each other because both know the result would be annihilation. But the same is true for France and Britain, or China and Israel. It was the existence of the Other that gave deterrence its power; it is the disappearance of the Other that has vanquished that power. Where Russia is now concerned, we are, paradoxically, not secure, because we see no need to be secured. In other words, as Ole Waever might put it, where there is no constructed threat, there is no security problem. France is fully capable of doing great damage to the United States, but that capability has no meaning in terms of U.S. security.

On the other hand, see the Iran nuclear ‘crisis’ as an example. The United States has demonized Ahmadinejad at every opportunity and conjured him up as an Islamic fundamentalist and nationalist who will defy non-proliferation at all costs. On the other hand, Ahmadinejad cheekily asked the United States to join the rest of civilization in worshipping God. That is the discourse of race war but it is concealed by juridical discourse—the hegemonic discourse.

To borrow from Michael Foucault, the United States is using the juridical schema of nuclear non-proliferation to conceal the war-repression schema. North Korea is the historical Other, the terrorist, the threat against whom the world must be protected in the juridical schema. Yet, under the war-repression schema, North Korea is a sovereign nation with the right to develop nuclear and communications technology. And this latest action is really nothing more than a plea for economic help.

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Wall Street Collapse? Another Crisis of Capitalism

I wish I had the ability to be shocked when I hear about a ‘deep crisis’ that can cause staggering losses (a cyclical crisis of capitalism), a $700 billion bailout for private sector cronies and John McCain canceling a 2-3 hour debate appearance as a publicity stunt to resolve this crisis (as if, his presence would make a difference. Admittedly, he has a weak economic understanding). But I digress.

It’s not like a major financial crisis was unexpected in the near future. Political economists have been making predictions about the fall of the U.S. dollar for quite some time; this Wall Street financial collapse is just a start. Oil prices are dropping, Asian markets are coming down even immigration is down (ALIPAC must be happy; they are happily blaming immigrants for the meltdown too). Actually forget the contemporary political economists and politicians trying to pinpoint the source of this crisis; revisit the blog favorite Karl Marx, who held that the internal contradictions within capitalism as a system would create cycles of boom and slump, that over time would become more untenable as social forces opposing it built up, eventually leading to an overthrow of the system. What are these internal contradictions?

1. The tendency of the rate of profit to fall

2. The concentration of capital

3. Rise in unemployment

4. Overproduction or Underconsumption (crisis of realization)

5. Collapse of credit

6. Bigger firms buying out smaller and weaker firms (in this case, the government bailing out)

7. Crisis ‘solved’ till the next inevitable cycle

Do these predictions of more than 150 years ago sound familiar?
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American Association of Geographers – Call for Papers

After these god-awful, life-stopping exams, I have to get down to several pending journal articles. One of them is for an Australian-based journal called Still. There are several AAG Call for Papers that seem to go with the topic and other half-completed works, so I may attend AAG in Las Vegas again next year.

Q: What kind of potential and current law school students will you find at the American Association of Geographers?

A: The ones doing Marine and Navigation Law

Ok, I admit, that was a bad one.

Waiting

Call for Papers for the 2009 Association of American Geographers Annual
Meeting, March 22-27, Las Vegas

Organizers:

Craig Jeffrey, University of Washington
Geraldine Pratt, University of British Columbia

We all wait. As Henri Lefebvre argued, waiting is a prominent feature of modern everyday life. In the second half of the twentieth century, in particular, the increasing regimentation and bureaucratization of time in the West, combined with the growing reach of the state created multiple settings – such as bus stands, clinics and offices – in which people were compelled to wait (Moran 2008). Papers in this proposed session might examine these everyday spaces of waiting, including the politics that emerges in places such as the queue (Corbridge 2003). We are also interested in papers that consider the apparent proliferation of contexts in which
people wait for years or whole lifetimes. Of course, there is nothing new about prolonged waiting. But Bayart (2007) has persuasively argued that varied populations are increasingly being forced to live in limbo. Papers in this session might discuss elite, subaltern or middle class experiences of chronic waiting; the causes of prolonged waiting; pathways out of limbo; vernacular conceptualizations of waiting; and spatialized cultural, social and political projects that emerge within communities in wait.

These foci should not be seen as restrictive, and we welcome papers from scholars who approach waiting from other perspectives and contributions from people who had not previously thought of their research in terms of waiting but who are interested in shared discussion around this idea. For example, papers might also investigate how waiting might be theorized within geography and related disciplines (e.g. Bissell 2007), the limits of waiting
as a basis for reflecting on politics and subjectivity formation, historical geographies of waiting, waiting as a methodology, architectures of waiting, or waiting and academic professional practice (Bourdieu 2000).

Please send a title and if possible also a short abstract to Craig Jeffrey at cjj3@u.washington.edu by October 4th if you are interested in this topic,
and please forward this message to others who might be interested.

Dr. Craig Jeffrey
Associate Professor in Geography and International Studies
University of Washington
Department of Geography Box 353550
Seattle, WA 98195
USA

11.8 million and waiting, confined in a certain space and territory.
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Foucault on Geography and Population

“One might wonder, as a conceit or a hypothesis, whether geographical knowledge doesn’t carry within itself the circle of the frontier, whether this be a national, departmental or cantonal frontier; and hence, whether one shouldn’t add to the figures of internment you have indicated–that of the madmen, the criminal, the patient, the proletariat–the national internment of the citizen-soldier. Wouldn’t we have here a space of confinement which is both infinitely vaster and less hermetic”

Foucault: That’s a very appealing notion. And the inmate, in your view, would be a national man? Because the geographical discourse which justifies frontiers is that of nationalism?”

(Questions on Geography, Power/Knowledge)

I think the question can be seen assuming and also leading us towards a carceral archipelago–how a punitive system is physically dispersed and yet covers the entirety of society. One of the topics I really want to cover on this blog in the near future is Foucault’s concept of the ‘apparatuses of security’ and how they are applicable to our society. In liberal societies and the liberal international order, we are led to believe that our ‘freedoms’ require ‘apparatuses of security.’ As Foucault states, “Freedom is nothing else but the correlative of apparatuses of security.”

Stemming from this is my concern about the ‘archipelago of detention,’ especially concerning the increasing confinement of mobility regarding migrant bodies–bodies that are constructed and labeled as ‘criminal.’

Foucault also lays out a population/people distinction in Security, Territory and Population that is worthy of further exploration. Population has two meanings — one denotes a group of subjects with rights or subjects to a sovereign etc. but the one we are interested in is population as a process that needs regulation and management, a process that correlates with the awareness of the ‘public’ and maybe even the sharp binaries of citizen/non-citizen. Now, while Foucault poses the question of the ‘inmate’ as the “national man” and that is true since borders, citizenship and nationality are all confinements, I do want to focus on the (bi)(trans)(multi)-national Others as inmates, both literally and figuratively. And I don’t think we can leave economics out of the picture.

This post here – Documenting the ‘birth’ of illegal immigration, while not perfect, serves as a start and historical background in terms of the United States context.

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Michel Foucault – References and Works

It’s officially 24 years since the death of great French social critic, Michel Foucault (yea yea, my favorite). Anyway, the following is a list of Foucault books and resources that I have been able to locate on the internet and referencing here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

While he died in 1984 of HIV (yes, he was gay), his contributions to our ‘disciplines’ are numerous. His lecture series from the College of France is also quite insightful. I am waiting for a good deal on the latest one “Security, Territory and Population.”

Year Original French English Translation
1997 1976–1977 Il faut défendre la société Society Must Be Defended
1999 1974–1975 Les anormaux Abnormal
2001 1981–1982 L’Herméneutique du sujet The Hermeneutics of the Subject
2003 1973–1974 Le pouvoir psychiatrique Psychiatric Power
2004 1977–1978 Sécurité, territoire, population Security, Territory, Population
2004 1978–1979 Naissance de la biopolitique The Birth of Biopolitics
Forthcoming 1970–1971 La Volonté de Savoir The Will to Knowledge
Forthcoming 1971–1972 Theories et Institutions Penales Theories of Punishment
Forthcoming 1972–1973 La Société Punitive The Punitive Society
Forthcoming 1979–1980 Du gouvernement des vivants The Government of Man
Forthcoming 1980–1981 Subjectivite et Vérité Subjectivity and Truth
2008 1982–1983 Le Gouvernement de soi et des autres The Government of Self and Others
Forthcoming 1983–1984 Le Courage de la Vérité The Courage of Truth

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Documenting the birth of illegal immigration

Someone at BNF felt compelled to tell me that the birth of illegal immigration was the coming of Europeans to the Americas. The comment is theoretically accurate but misses the point of the argument. By the ‘birth of illegal immigration,’ I am referring to the social and political construction of a certain type of immigration as illegal. That discourse did not exist prior to a certain time, even though the phenomenon was naturally-occurring. It’s much like Michel Foucault, who dates the origin of homosexuality in America to 1876. That doesn’t mean homosexuality does not exist prior to that, rather he means that the definition and categorization of ‘sexual deviants’ in order to control, legislate, regulate and medicate comes about with the creation of the American nation-state. Much like that, the Native Americans did not partake in the Judeo-Christian moral and legal order of the European arrivals–they did not feel compelled to label them as ‘illegal’ and without documentation. The discourse of ‘illegal immigration’ does not really come into being until after Chinese Exclusion.

Anyway, here is some interesting archival material that I am posting upon request:

Paper: Unknown Title, published as Evening Bulletin; Date: 04-21-1882; Volume: LIV; Issue: 12; Page: 2;

This piece simply blew me away. It represents the start of the construction of desirable/undesirable immigration that snowballed into restricting the immigration of certain groups of peoples and hence, ‘illegal immigration.’ It contains the construction of a broad and acceptable ‘European immigration’ and right of citizenship faced with a contemporary Chinese ‘invasion’ quite unlike the former. I apologize for the unclear text—it is more than 100 years old and scanned.

img104/6686/trueandfalseimmigrationox6.jpg

Now this is the first use of ‘illegal immigration’ in an article. And it concerns the Chinese entering from the Canadian border.

San Francisco Bulletin, published as Daily Evening Bulletin; Date: 12-12-1889; Volume: LXIX; Issue: 57; Page: 4;

img99/9817/chineseimmigrationsg8.jpg

Philadelphia Inquirer, published as The Philadelphia Inquirer; Date: 03-23-1899; Volume: 140; Issue: 82; Page: 3;

And now we have moves to ‘check’ illegal immigration – deportation!

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Bellingham Herald, published as The Bellingham Herald; Date: 07-31-1907; Volume: 16; Issue: 108; Page: 3;

img372/6330/govttostopillegalimmigrbt0.jpg

Not all the archived data screams anti-Chinese and anti-immigration. True to conditions today, immigration proponents also existed from the birth of ‘illegal immigration.’

Paper: Unknown Title, published as The Philadelphia Inquirer; Date: 06-05-1893; Volume: 128; Issue: 156; Page: 2;

img123/2263/eduthechineseuj4.jpg

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