Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a Foucault…

“Where does a postmodernist go to protest? What do you militate for, and how, if, say, “democracy” or “class’ is an “essentialist” concept that betrays the indeterminate and contested character of political relations? Or, where does a Foucauldian go to protest, if power is everywhere — in himself included? Foucault says, the individual is a power factor. So in this age of theory, what can a person do by way of political action but just sort of mumble to himself?…

…When Foucault writes about discipline and capillary power in early modern Western history, anthropologists pick it up and use it to think the institutions of every and any society. In the event, this poststructuralism becomes a paranoid style neofunctionalism: everything-family, kinship, second-person Vietnamese pronouns, Brazilian workers’ housing, Korean shamanism-is reduced to a power function. For myself, I think that anthropologists who have had the experience of cultural-ontological differences should not give a Foucault.” – Marshall Sahlins

Advertisements