Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back To Cape Town

I am back to Cape Town after spending about four months in Nigeria. In Nigeria I spent about two months in Lagos where I engaged with the remaining part of my PhD fieldwork to fill up the existing loopholes. Afterwards, I journeyed to Awka, a distance of about  9 hours from Lagos towards the eastern Nigeria. From Awka I went to Nsukka (precisely the University of Nigeria) where I met with my family and my in-laws. I  spent quality time with my family at Awka and Nsukka before coming back to Cape Town on 25 March 2011. Here in Cape Town I have integrated back into our highly cerebral reading group and seminar series. I was a dsicussant on Tuesday's seminar with Ashraf Jamal's paper, "Turning Eastward, Vladimir Tretchikoff's Orient."

Our next reading which will be on Thursday, 7 April  is Michel Foucault's "Society Must Be Defended." And as I read this text I follow the heartbeat of an intellectual  pundit who attempted to articulate alternative ways of analyzing power. Foucault was interested in the representation of power and the ways in which power operate. And the strength of  his teachings on discourse is quite unprecedented. In my understanding, Foucault believes that power is polemical, contested and moves to and fro like a pendulum. My own submission is that power is counterproductive and it is also an echo, a boomerang. It is like a ball hit on the wall with force and the same ball coming back to hit the thrower. Foucault could be understood from what Arnold Davidson makes of him: "In  modern society power  has not functioned in the form of law and sovereignty, a historical analysis that forces one to find another form of representation that does not depend  on the juridical system."  Foucault reminds me of  Giorgio Agamben's Homo Sacer where he states that "the fundamental activity of sovereign power is the production of bare life as originary political element and as threshold of articulation between nature and culture," what he calls xoe and bios.

My question is how do we deal with the rising influence of Biopolitics especially in the wake of the Arab Revolution. My reading of the logic of Biopolitical war rests on Ghadafi's Libya and how biopolitical drive is invoked by Ghadafi to 'defend' the nation. He invokes the idea of state racism to launch attack on his own people through a slogan of 'Western Crusaders'. It means that state racism could be invoked to safeguard territorial integrity and also to sustain a dictator in power.  Again one could see the role of state racism in War on Terror which is also a biopolitical war. American  state racism advanced the slogan of one who is either with America (good) or against America (evil).