Re: [Foucault-L] PRECISION Need reference: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

The reason I raised the point is that it seems to me that there is a danger of falling back into the notion that there is a space free from power which is knowledge, freedom, emancipation. The categories, classifications, descriptions etc., of human behaviour set up or described by Sedgwick, Butler, et al, are no less power/knowledge complexes than those established by the "establishment." They too form objects of knowledge and aim to induce forms of behaviour: the may be anti-programmatic programmes, but they are programmes nonetheless.


p.s. Foucault analysed neither behaviour nor identity: 'It was a matter of analyzing, not behaviors or ideas, nor societies and their "ideologies," but the problematizations through which being offers itself to be, necessarily, thought - and the practices on the basis of which these problematizations are formed' (The Use of Pleasure: 11).

> -----Original Message-----
> From: npr4@xxxxxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 08:53:09 +0100
> To: foucault-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: [Foucault-L] PRECISION Need reference: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
> I agree with you entirely, Kevin. By "arbitrary" I intend only to say
> that
> they are not given by nature, but are instead the result of human
> programs
> and power (and that they could, therefore, be otherwise).
> Nate
> On Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 8:47 AM, Kevin Turner <kevin.turner@xxxxxxxxx>
> wrote:
>> Hi Nathan, Tiffany, et al,
>> I agree with the general thrust of Nathan’s argument, but would just add
>> that we need to exercise caution in using the word ”arbitrary.” On one
>> level, certainly, such categories, classifications, self-identifications
>> are completely arbitrary: they are historical constructs that do not
>> refer
>> to essences and could thus be otherwise. However, on another level, and
>> precisely because they are historical construct, they are anything but
>> arbitrary since they emerged out of very specific programmes for
>> governing
>> individuals, groups, and populations. They are political technologies
>> that
>> form objects of knowledge and sites of intervention; they are also, of
>> course, technologies of the self.
>> Affably Yours,
>> Kevin
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: npr4@xxxxxxxxxxxx
>>> Sent: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 10:07:34 +0530
>>> To: foucault-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>> Subject: Re: [Foucault-L] PRECISION Need reference: Eve Kosofsky
>>> Sedgwick
>>> On Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 3:30 AM, Tiffany P.
>>> <princeptiffany@xxxxxxxxxx>wrote:
>>>> To
>>>> Nathaniel: I don't get what's wrong with your 3 propositions. I would
>>>> even
>>>> say
>>>> I agree with all of them, I find these "categorizations" even more
>>>> "natural" (meaning: intuitive) than the homo/hetero one. But maybe
>>>> I'm too queer? Haha.
>>> Tiffany,
>>> Okay, so what do we mean by "more in common"? More in common **with
>>> respect
>>> to what**? More common with respect to sexual predilections? Yes,
>>> certainly. But if that's all she's saying, she is hardly saying
>>> anything
>>> at
>>> all. In fact it's a complete tautology.
>>> Look, there are an awful lot of ways for two people to be like and
>>> unlike
>>> each other, and I don't see how whether a person licks pussy or not
>>> (for
>>> example) should outweigh all the others. Straight men are interpellated
>>> in
>>> a vast number of ways that are totally different than the way women
>>> are.
>>> Sure, it is possible that one particular straight man who licks pussy
>>> may
>>> have more in common with a particular woman who does. But Sedgwick is
>>> saying that the mere fact of licking pussy means they will necessarily
>>> have
>>> more in common. And this strikes me as utterly absurd.
>>> So I ask: is her theoretical position simply that the kind of sexual
>>> acts
>>> a
>>> person likes to perform is categorically more important than any other
>>> fact
>>> about them? Is it more important than how they think about themselves?
>>> How
>>> they themselves feel about those acts? How their culture categorizes
>>> them?
>>> Fine. Let that be her dogma. But I don't think there's any denying that
>>> this is completely reductive. It's practically a paradigm case of
>>> reductiveness. It not only reduces the whole of human existence to
>>> behavior, but unlike the now discredited behaviorism (which at least
>>> took
>>> into account the whole range of behaviors) it reduces everything even
>>> further: to one type of behavior (chosen by the theorist herself).
>>> Ryan, your interpretation of what Sedgwick/Butler had in mind sounds
>>> much
>>> more plausible to me. I am sure Sedgwick must not have meant the
>>> statement
>>> to be taken in a literal manner, but more as a provocation. I just
>>> happen
>>> to be one of those people who values clarity and precision of thought
>>> and
>>> writing. But to take up the more interesting angle you have suggested,
>>> "because sexual acts cut across conventional sexual identities, they
>>> reveal
>>> the arbitrariness of those categories, and that erotic desire is not
>>> just
>>> about who you want but also about what you want to do," I would just
>>> like
>>> to add that the way we categorize sexual acts is just as arbitrary as
>>> the
>>> way we categorize sexual identities. So although I accept that it may
>>> be
>>> useful to pose the one against the other and see how they may conflict,
>>> let
>>> us not lose track of the fact that both involve arbitrary categories.
>>> And
>>> it seems to me that a more fruitful avenue would be to move away from
>>> ethological categories to ones that relevant to the people themselves
>>> (i.e.
>>> the people whose identities and acts Sedgwick and those she argue
>>> against
>>> are categorizing).
>>> Cordially,
>>> Nate
>>> _______________________________________________
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> --
> Dr. Nathaniel
> Roberts<>
> Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
> Herman-Föge-Weg 11
> 37073 Göttingen
> Germany
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  • Re: [Foucault-L] PRECISION Need reference: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
    • From: Tiffany P.
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    Re: [Foucault-L] PRECISION Need reference: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Nathaniel Roberts
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