Drawing on the work of Foucault and Western confessional writings, this book challenges the transhistorical and commonsense views of confession as an innate impulse resulting in the psychological liberation of the confessing subject. Instead, confessional desire is argued to be contingent and constraining, and alternatives to confessional subjectivity are explored.
In a 1983 interview, Michel Foucault contrasts our contemporary interest in sexual identity with the ancient Greek preoccupation with diet, arguing that sex has replaced food as the privileged medium of self-constitution in the modern West. In the same interview, Foucault argues that modern liberation movements should return to the ancient model of ethics, of which diet was a prime example, as aesthetics or self-transformative practice. In this paper I take up Foucault's argument with respect to the Animal Liberation Movement (...) and the dietetics of ethical vegetarianism. Contra Foucault, I suggest that diet has not been replaced by sexuality in the modern West, and that food choices, along with and intertwined with sexuality, continue to function as practices of self-constitution in both disciplinary and aesthetic fashions. I then consider the implications of this argument for the Animal Liberation Movement, exploring ways in which it might (and to some degree already does) take on aesthetic rather than moral strategies in order to pursue what Foucault once described as “an ethics of acts and their pleasures which would be able to take into account the pleasure of the other.”. (shrink)
While Michel Foucault’s writings have been taken up extensively to explore gender and sexuality, until recently there was little work drawing on Foucault’s writings to discuss race. In part, this was because Foucault seemed to have said almost nothing about race, aside from some comments on Nazism and eugenics in the final pages of Part V of The History of Sexuality, volume 1. With the 1997 and 1999 publication of two series of lectures that Foucault delivered at the Collège de (...) France between 1974 and 1976, Abnormal and “Society Must Be Defended”, Foucault scholars have, however, become aware that he made more extensive and provocative observations about race than had previously been believed. Both of these lecture series gives a genealogical account of the ways in which modern, biological forms of racism emerged at a certain point in history, stressing the contingency of this emergence and its enmeshment in power struggles and modern forms of power. This paper provides an account of what Foucault argues about race and racism in the Collège de France lectures, and, more briefly, presents two of the most extended treatments of race coming from Foucauldian perspectives that have appeared in the wake of these texts. (shrink)
Most mainstream feminist anti-rape scholarship and activism may be described as carceral feminism, insofar as it fails to engage with critiques of the criminal punishment system and endorses law-and-order responses to sexual and gendered violence. Mainstream feminist anti-rape scholars and activists often view increased conviction rates and longer sentences as a political goal—or, at the very least, are willing to collaborate with police and lament cases where perpetrators of sexual violence are given “light” or non-custodial sentences. Prison abolitionists, on the (...) other hand, have tended to insist that most lawbreakers are non-violent and that the “dangerous” are “few”, thus avoiding serious engagement with the widespread phenomenon of sexual violence. Despite the prevalence of carceral feminism, to my knowledge no feminist scholar has explicitly embraced this label, and the closest I have found to a defense of carceral feminism is feminist legal scholar Lise Gotell’s “critique of the critique of carceral feminism”. For this reason, it is with Gotell’s article that I primarily engage in defending anti-carceral feminism and prison abolitionism even in the difficult case of sexual assault. (shrink)
Christiane Bailey and Chloë Taylor (Editorial Introduction) Sue Donaldson (Stirring the Pot - A short play in six scenes) Ralph Acampora (La diversification de la recherche en éthique animale et en études animales) Eva Giraud (Veganism as Affirmative Biopolitics: Moving Towards a Posthumanist Ethics?) Leonard Lawlor (The Flipside of Violence, or Beyond the Thought of Good Enough) Kelly Struthers Montford (The “Present Referent”: Nonhuman Animal Sacrifice and the Constitution of Dominant Albertan Identity) James Stanescu (Beyond Biopolitics: Animal Studies, Factory Farms, (...) and the Advent of Deading Life) Ian Werkheiser (Domination and Consumption: An Examination of Veganism, Anarchism, and Ecofeminism) Cynthia Willett (Water and Wing Give Wonder: Trans-Species Cosmopolitanism) Corey Lee Wrenn (Nonhuman Animal Rights, Alternative Food Systems, and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex) Emily R. Douglas (Eat or Be Eaten: A Feminist Phenomenology of Women as Food) Gary Steiner’s Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013) Chloë Taylor (“Postmodern” Critical Animal Theory: A Defense) Patrick Llored (La déconstruction derridienne peut-elle fonder une communauté politique et morale entre vivants humains et non humains?) Jan Dutkiewicz (“Postmodernism,” Politics, and Pigs) Gary Steiner (Response to Commentators). (shrink)
In her beautiful prose poem, Eros the bittersweet, Ann Carson describes the "trajectory of eros" as one that "moves from the lover toward the beloved, then ricochets back to the lover himself and the hole in him unnoticed before. Who is the real subject of love poems? Not the beloved. It is that hole." Carson continues, "Reaching for an object beyond himself, the lover is provoked to notice that self and its limits. For a new vantage point, which we might (...) call self-consciousness, he looks back and sees that hold." "Seeing my hole, I know my whole, he says to himself" (Ann Carson, Eros the Bittersweet [Campaign: Dalkey Archive Press, 1998], 30, 32-3, 33). The classical image that persists today is the desire as lack, or absence, where the self is a hole, an insatiable emptiness that restlessly desires wholeness, whose hole drives him to become that which he can never be. Love, on this model, might be inconceivable without tragedy; its satiety is also our loss. (shrink)
Michel Foucault is well known as a theorist of power who provided forceful critiques of institutions of confinement such as the psychiatric asylum and the prison. Although the invention of factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses, like prisons and psychiatric hospitals, can be considered emblematic moments in a history of modernity, and although the modern farm is an institution of confinement comparable to the prison, Foucault never addressed these institutions, the politics of animal agriculture, or power relationships between humans and other (...) animals more generally. The few times that Foucault discussed animality or human–animal relations, animals and animality remained metaphors for humans and human experiences. Despite Foucault's failure to analyze human–nonhuman animal relations, a significant body of Critical Animal Studies literature has mobilized Foucault's work over the last decade. In particular, a number of scholars have taken up Foucault's writings to consider how relations between humans and nonhuman animals in agriculture might be conceptualized as instances of sovereign power, biopower, disciplinary power, and pastoral power, as well as why we may not think that these are power relations at all. This essay provides an overview of Foucault's accounts of power and of the Foucauldian scholarship that applies these accounts to human–nonhuman animal relations in animal agriculture. (shrink)
In the first volume of the History of Sexuality , Michel Foucault states in passing that prostitution and pornography, like the sexual sciences of medicine and psychiatry, are involved in the proliferation of sexualities and the perverse implantation. Against an influential misinterpretation of this passage on the part of film studies scholar Linda Williams, this paper takes up Foucault’s claim and attempts to explain the mechanism through which the sex industry, and pornography in particular, functions analogously to the sexual sciences (...) in terms of the normalizing form of power that Foucault describes. Whereas Williams sets the question of prostitution aside, and argues that pornography must be a confessional discourse for Foucault, this paper argues that consumption rather than confession is the mechanism through which both prostitution and pornography deploy sexualities within a disciplinary system of power. (shrink)
In 1977 Michel Foucault contemplated the idea of punishing rape only as a crime of violence, while in 1978 he argued that non-coercive sex between adults and minors should be decriminalized entirely. Feminists have consistently criticized these suggestions by Foucault. This paper argues that these feminist responses have failed to sufficiently understand the theoretical motivations behind Foucault's statements on sex-crime legislation reform, and will offer a new feminist appraisal of Foucault's suggestions.
While political and ethical philosophers today are familiar with critiques of confinement in both critical prison studies and critical animal studies, The Ethics of Captivity is unusual in that it brings these critiques of incarceration together, bridging human and nonhuman animal liberation movements. While Lisa Guenther’s recent book, Solitary Confinement: Social Death and Its Afterlives, also critiques the mass incarceration of both human and nonhuman animals, it is far more common to see human and animal liberation movements opposed on this (...) issue, as when the incarceration of humans is deplored for treating those individuals like animals. As Guenther argues, however, this humanistic language is... (shrink)
In this response I compare Rebecca Tuvel’s article, “In Defense of Transracialism,” to several other recent examples of philosophical and social justice scholarship in which authors draw comparisons between diverse identities and oppressions, and draw ethical and political conclusions about experiences that are not necessarily their own. I ask what methodological or authorial differences can explain the dramatically different reception of these works compared to Tuvel’s, and whether these differences in reception were justified. In this response I also challenge the (...) often-heard claim that Tuvel failed to draw on the evidence of experience in her article, as well as the assumption that social justice scholars should always do so. Finally, I consider Tuvel’s motivations in writing her article and describe them as intellectually generous, and I call for more intellectual generosity in academia as it is transformed by social media. (shrink)
A number of theorists have defended the legalization and destigmatization of sex work by arguing that sex work is analogous to other kinds of labour that are socially accepted and even valorized. In contrast, one reason that anti-sex work feminist theorists have rejected the analogy between prostitution and other jobs, including professions that are potentially exploitative and dangerous, is that sex is tied up with personal identity and integrity in a way that other activities are not. This makes the selling (...) of one’s body or the use of parts of one’s body for sexual services psycho-sexually harmful in a way that distinguishes it from other forms of labour involving the sale or use of one’s body parts. This essay argues that Foucault’s work on sexuality helps to bring together what seems right about both sides of this debate. Drawing on Foucault, we can explain the fact that sex is experienced as intrinsic to identity in the modern West, as well as lend support to the view that this is a contingent and undesirable state of affairs. Moreover, this essay argues that Foucault’s proposal for desexualization suggests a way out of one of the main occupational hazards associated with sex work. (shrink)
This paper provides an overview of Michel Foucault's continually changing observations on familial power, as well as the feminist-Foucauldian literature on the family. It suggests that these accounts offer fragments of a genealogy of the family that undermine any all-encompassing or transhistorical account of the institution. Approaching the family genealogically, rather than seeking a single model of power that can explain it, shows that far from this institution being a quasi-natural formation or a bedrock of unassailable values, it is in (...) fact a continually contested fiction that masks its own histories of becoming. (shrink)
Drawing on Michel Foucault's writings as well as the writings of feminist scholars bell hooks and Jane Gallop, this paper examines faculty–student sexual relations and the discourses and policies that surround them. It argues that the dominant discourses on professor–student sex and the policies that follow from them misunderstand the form of power that is at work within pedagogical institutions, and it examines some of the consequences that result from this misunderstanding. In Foucault's terms, we tend to theorize faculty–student relations (...) using a model of sovereign power in which people have or lack power and in which power operates in a static, stable, and exclusively top-down manner. We should, however, recognize the ways in which individuals in pedagogical institutions are situated within disciplinary and thus dynamic, reciprocal, and complex networks of power, as well as the ways in which the pedagogical relation may be a technique of the self and not only of domination. If we reconsider these relations in terms of Foucault's accounts of discipline and technologies of the self, we can recognize that prohibitions on faculty—student sexual relations within institutions such as the university are productive rather than repressive of desire, and that such relations can be opportunities for development and not only for abuse. Moreover, this paper suggests that the dominant discourses on professor—student relations today contribute to a construction of professors as dangerous and students as vulnerable, which denies the agency of (mostly female) students and obscures the multiplicity of forms of sexual abuse that occur within the university context. (shrink)
The essays in Fanon and the Decolonization of Philosophy all trace different aspects of the mutually supporting histories of philosophical thought and colonial politics in order to suggest ways that we might decolonize our thinking. From psychology to education, to economic and legal structures, the contributors interrogate the interrelation of colonization and philosophy in order to articulate a Fanon-inspired vision of social justice. This project is endorsed by his daughter, Mireille Fanon-Mendès France, in the book's preface.
Much of the history of Western ethical thought has revolved around debates about what constitutes a good life, and claims that a good life is achievable only by certain human beings. In Feminist Philosophies of Life, feminist, new materialist, posthumanist, and ecofeminist philosophers challenge this tendency, approaching the question of life from alternative perspectives. Signalling the importance of distinctively feminist reflections on matters of shared concern, Feminist Philosophies of Life not only exposes the propensity of discourses to normalize and exclude (...) differently abled, racialized, feminized, and gender nonconforming people, it also asks questions about how life is constituted and understood without limiting itself to the human. A collection of articles that focuses on life as an organizing principle for ontology, ethics, and politics, chapters of this study respond to feminist thinkers such as Gloria Anzaldúa, Judith Butler, Adriana Cavarero, Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, and Søren Kierkegaard. Divided into three parts, the book debates the question of life in and against the emerging school of new feminist materialism, provides feminist phenomenological and existentialist accounts of life, and focuses on lives marked by a particular precarity such as disability or incarceration, as well as life in the face of a changing climate. Calling for a broader account of lived experience, Feminist Philosophies of Life contains persuasive, original, and diverse analyses that address some of the most crucial feminist issues. Contributors include Christine Daigle, Shannon Dea, Lindsay Eales, Elizabeth Grosz, Lisa Guenther, Lynne Huffer, Ada Jaarsma, Stephanie Jenkins, Ladelle McWhorter, Jane Barter Moulaison, Astrida Neimanis, Danielle Peers, Stephen Seely, Hasana Sharp, Chloë Taylor, Florentien Verhage, Rachel Loewen Walker, and Cynthia Willett. (shrink)