26. Multitudes 26 : Autumn 2006

Multitudes : Autumn

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Mineure : Empire et « colonialité » du pouvoir

Santiago Castro-Gómez. Le Chapitre manquant d’Empire. La réorganisation postmoderne de la colonisation dans le capitalisme postfordiste
Empire lacks an anlysis of the shift from the colonial to the postcolonial. For Hardt and Negri, the hegemony of immaterial labor relegates the center/periphery dichotomies and the forms of colonial domination to the past. The gap lies in their genealogy of modernity : by paying attention to Europe alone, and by ignoring the world-system, they miss the « dark side » of Empire, its colonial and now postcolonial face. Yet we are witnessing a reorganization of coloniality, based on new representations of development (sustainable development) that reinforce the hierarchies between the legitimate knowledge of some, and the non-knowledge of others.

Ramón Grosfoguel. Les Implications des altérités épistémiques dans la redéfinition du capitalisme global : transmodernité, pensée-frontalière et colonialité globale
Despite formal decolonization, a global coloniality continues to exist : multiple and interrelated forms of domination based on gender, race, sexual practices, language, spirituality, etc. The decolonization of the world requires a new politics, beyond the assertions of identity in cultural studies and labor relations in Marxism. This new politics must give full scope to situated knowhow, and open up a geopolitics of knowledge. It is less a matter of taking power than of inventing collective institutions, both local and global.

Majeure : postcolonial et histoire

Sandro Mezzadra. Temps historique et sémantique politique dans la critique post-coloniale
Our experience of the world swings between two extremes, unification-globalization and forms of turbulence. Postcolonial studies stand at the juncture between the two, hence their interest. They question, not so much modernity as the European model of modernity, abstract in substance, linear in time and space (extending from the center to the peripheries). The best postcolonial studies are keenly aware of the breaks in modernity, and in this regard the example of Haiti is illuminating : the first victorious slave revolt, at the very moment when factory production became the rule. If so little attention has been paid to it, there has clearly been a cover-up. But that was at least partially inevitable. Recording and narration have their gaps ; History and the multiplicity of stories cannot be so easily reconciled. Precisely this is at stake in postcolonial historiography.

Homi Bhabha. Le Tiers-espace. Entretien avec Jonathan Rutherford
In the name of hybridity and of « cultural difference », contrasted here from « cultural diversity », the author proposes a critique of the relativist liberalism which currently justifies the « multiculturalist » policies favoured in the UK, showing how such policies are linked with an ethnocentered form of universalism.

Anne McClintock. Race, classe, genre et sexualité : entre puissance d’agir et ambivalence coloniale
Without wholly rejecting the perspective proposed by Bhabha (who sees in the colonial subject’s mimicry and in the ambivalence of the colonial discourse the site of a structural rift within colonialism, working towards its own subversion), the author refuses the idea that the identification of such structural rifts could be enough to account for the political agency of the subaltern. She thus calls for focused historical analyses of actual political situations, capable of understanding the concrete articulation between the deeply inter-related dynamics of gender, sexuality, race and class. She shows that (1) colonization was not, from the point of view of the colonial powers, an external affair, nor a historical accident unrelated to their historical essence, and that (2) colonization and the processes of socio-political transformation within the colonial powers maintained a close intricacy (as intricate as the transformations taking place on issues of class, gender, race, etc.).

Éric Fassin. La Démocratie sexuelle et le conflit des civilisations
In the postcolonial world, and particularly after September 11, a liberal Western norm updates human rights with « sexual democracy » (including a smoothed-over conception of womanhood, and increasingly, a similar conception of homosexuality). Intertwined with the norm of antiracism, this « sexual democracy » functions as a formidable trap to those postcolonial subjects who have the misfortune to overstep it : accused of complicity with racism, they are called barbarians and pushed into the background. Zacarias Moussaoui was well aware of this, and played on it; French girls from the North African immigration are equally well aware, and they negotiate from day to day (the headscarf, their choice of sexual partners).

Warren Montag. « Les Subalternes peuvent-illes parler ? » et autres questions transcendantales
The author revisits the question raised during the 1990s by Gayatri Spivak in her famous and difficult article « Can the Subaltern Speak ? », a question which fuelled endless debates in the field of postcolonial studies. He shows that the question is deceptive : the issue is less to decide whether, in the absolute, the subaltern can speak – they obviously can -, but to see whether they actually manage to do so, and to make themselves heard when it really matters, i.e., within a specific political situation.

Olivier Le Cour Grandmaison. Passé colonial, histoire et « guerre des mémoires »
For a while now, we have been entering a new historical phase characterized by « memory wars », and by the « communitarian » struggles they both unleash and express. This article attempts to analyze what is now taken for common sense observations, and to show how they coexist with a number of prejudices and stigmatizations geared toward disqualifying the current memorial struggles, and toward maintaining public order by repressing and excluding the problems raised by those who no longer accept the occultation of colonial crimes.

Jocelyne Dakhlia. Musulmans de France : l’histoire sous le tapis
Now that public discourse ponders the « integration » of Muslims, one must (surprisingly) be reminded that France and Islam have always maintained very close relationships, from the Middle-Ages and into the modern period, alternating between conflicts and fusions. « Integration » makes no sense, since the Muslim populations are already here. If we fail to see them, it is because Islam has long been the « unreflected » side of official French politics (as well as of French anti-colonization activists): Islam was the other side of the Mediterranean, and the migrants from Northern and West Africa were never perceived as Mulsims.

Hors champs

Bifo. Génération précaire. Pour une critique de l’économie psychique du temps de travail cellularisé
The younger generations, exposed since their early age to the acceleration of the info-sphere and to the demands of cognitive capitalism, currently experience serious perturbations in their sensitivity, with difficulties in concentrating and focusing on a task, difficulties in verbalizing, degradation in their management of affects, in their capacity to relate to others, etc. Mediactivism has contributed to this transformation, and it now needs to deflect the course of this evolution by inventing new forms of immediacy.


Pergia Gkouskou-Giannakou. Pair-à-pair, grille, certificats, filtres… Projets , objets et plates-formes technologiques influençant l’avenir d’Internet
In this article, we attempt to register and categorize some of the major projects, objects and technological platforms of resource sharing and task distribution on the Internet. Despite the mobilization of a wide range of restrictions or even repressive measures against the use of such technologies, with the cultural industry now engaging legal proceedings, we believe that the tools of sharing and distribution have reached a point where the process of eliminating asymmetries on the Internet is irreversible.


Frédéric Saint-Cricq. Le Palais de Justice de Nouvel ou la réécriture de la modernité contrariée.
In its attempt to represent an ideal of law, Jean Nouvel’s courthouse in Nantes opens up another aesthetic dimension : that of the sublime. By pushing space to the limits of its geometry, it transforms it into a pure field of sensations. This new dimension threatens to overflow the field of reason that the State attempts to impose in order to perpetuate itself.

Icônes : Kinkaleri

Giovanna Zapperi. Kinkaleri : tentatives
This article analyses the work of the Italian collective Kinkaleri, situated on the border between various artistic disciplines (visual arts, performance, sound installation, theater). It focuses on the implications of their collective mode of working, on their questioning of the nature of the stage, and on the anti-spectacular aesthetics that characterized their later projects.