Archive for March, 2011

A forum from Israeli Apartheid Week with Jasbir Puar, Judith Butler, and John Greyson.

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Family History and Racial Purity

Timothy Brennan, ‘Postcolonial Studies Between the European Wars:  An Intellectual History’:

We might recall that Michel Foucault, for example, translated Nietzsche’s original concept of genealogy in the specific context of being a member of a repressed sexual minority and a devoted (one might even say obsessive) anti-Hegelian.  The germ, however, of  the original concept in Nietzsche remains at the core of his fundamentally duplicitous operation of practicing history while not practicing it.  Nietzsche’s intention had been to claim rights for aristocratic privilege and the frankly recidivist and and racialist principle of Rangordnung.  Genealogy was a decisive methodological invention because it was about family.  It connoted not agency or transformation but the genetic inevitabilities of paternity.  At the same time, it apotheosized etymology and therefore neatly fit itself into the larger principles  of postwar theory’s linguistic turn, which Nietzsche had been among the first to forecast.  At the same time, it was about the creation of a truth-by-design method embedded in a linguistic trace.  The genealogical method so valuable to the Foucauldian lineage in postcolonial studies conceals a source-specific elitism and racialist filiation that it wants very much to supersede, and feels utterly uncompelled to explain or distance itself from.

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