Steven Meinking recently wrote:

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.

This makes sense to me, and it is also what Foucault did with
the totalizing (and institutionalized) theory of Marxism. By beginning
instead with the "historical contents" of a specific situation such as
prisons, F was able to write an analysis that transforms Marxist ways of
talking about social conlict. Yet he maintains a few hints of Marxist
theories whenever he refers to economics in the background.

Of course he also opened a space for the (re)emergence of
"subjugated knowledges" at the same time. The mad, the infamous, the
criminal, the deviant, etc.

One can see that a Foucauldian methodology applied to colonialism
would not begin with a total theory--i.e., Marxist views of colonialism
might actually hinder further "research" than help. Instead, begin with
a specific, local, site. Allow the "contents" of that site to transform
your theories. And allow a space for subjugated knowledges to emerge.

--Erick Heroux


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