The Work of Diversity in the Age of Rage:
Humiliation and the Indebted Subject of Anti-Racist Governmentality
4pm, 6th March
Room: RHB 137
Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have delivered twin shocks to the political and racial equilibria of the Anglosphere. What these crises reveal, among other things, is the vast reservoirs of affective intensity that can be unleashed against the specter of encroaching racial and ethnic diversity among populations traditionally identified with a colonial legacy of whiteness. In what follows, some alignments are explored between the affective intensity of populist humiliation and the implicit logic of institutional multi-culturalism in the United States. In the US, across a range of business, educational and human service settings, techniques designed to produce a new civility appropriate to the conditions of diversifying societies are articulated in ways that employ a model of the indebted subject. The work of anti-racism, in other words, is to pay debts incurred by privilege. (Lazzarato, Graeber) This is a subject, the subject of debt, borrowed from financial technologies of neoliberal governmentality, where debt inscribes a subject who is consigned to a permanent state of humility and servitude. Such a configuration of the social inequalities of racial privilege around a relation of debtor-creditor conveys multiple, conflicting effects. On the one hand it serves as an effective critical intervention against white racial hegemony, but on the other as an apparatus of capture, or a dispositif, (Foucault, Deleuze) that demobilizes racialized subject positions and reproduces the relations of racism itself. The debt relation, which demands continuity over time and the ability to “make promises” (Nietzsche), finds its emotional correlate in feelings of guilt and shame that often spiral into humiliation and rage. (Scheff)
Sam Binkley is Associate Professor of Sociology at Emerson College, Boston. He has published articles on the historical and social production of subjectivity in varied contexts, chiefly through a theoretical engagement with the work of Michel Foucault, and an empirical interest in popular psychology. He is co-editor of Foucault Studies, and author of Getting Loose: Lifestyle Consumption in the 1970’s (Duke University Press, 2007) and Happiness as Enterprise: An Essay on Neoliberal Life (SUNY 2014). His current research considers the wider problematic of anti-racism, understood as governmental imperative. His research is available at: sambinkley.net<http://sambinkley.net>.
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