RE: Local Colonialisms


I will preface this post by saying that I know little to nothing about
(post)colonialism. However, I know some things about Foucault...

Your precise identification of "autonomous" in Foucault's text is
precisely what I consider this discussion to be about. Roughly, I
interpret autonomy to be for Foucault a spatial position of criticism that
is located within the network of knowledges and their production which is
characteristically non-static. When Foucault says things like
"non-centralized" I do not interpret him to mean that there is a
definitive center to knowledge production, but that autonomy, especially,
in this sense occupies an indeterminate position. Indeterminacy and
"outsidedeness" in this context seems to attest to the fact that the
knowledges of the "local critique" have been excluded in terms of
practice from more static knowledges like "totalitarian theories." The
local critique may be something we can participate in, a knowledge we
have access to; its operations may also be identifiable, but I don't
think it is something that can be pinned down.

If we juxtapose the local critique with institutional totalitarian
theories, one may interpret Foucault as encouraging local practice as a
non-determinate form continuously in transformation as a result of
drawing its position from the practices of knowledge around it. In such
a case, totalitarian theories are not to be "consigned to the flames,"
but rather incorporated for critical purposes.

You mentioned establishing a definition of "colonialism" in your post. I
am not sure Foucault would promote any sort of stable definition. In any
attempt to construct this sort of authoritative social symbol, I would
remain as alert as possible to how the problematization is engineered
discursively, and to what power relations were functioning within
its space, i.e. be wary of whether the definition is coordinated
by "an established regime of thought."

I wonder how much of the attempt to position the local critique lends to
its institutionalization. What are the costs in terms of autonomy? How
much has it already been institutionalized?

As a last note I would like to suggest to you and others interested in
colonialism and related topics that Spoon currently runs a list called

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Yours in discourse,

Steven Meinking
The University Of Utah


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