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CRITICAL THEORY AS CARTOGRAPHY OF G-LOCAL POWERS Prof. Rosi Braidotti Director Netherlands Research School Women’s Studies Utrecht University

Paper delivered at the Conference: ‘Critical theory Today: Perspectives and Practices” held in Utrecht on January the 29th, 2004, on the occasion of the Jubilee of the University for Humanistic Studies.

This is an extract from Braidotti’s forthcoming book: Transpositions. Not to be quoted or reproduced without permission from the author.


My starting position is simple: I do think it necessary, in the age of globalization, to raise any issues related to ethics or to political subjectivity in relation to considerations of power and power relations. Power as potestas (hindering) or as potentia (enabling); power as a circulation of complex and dynamic, albeit contradictory, effects, simply cannot be left out of the discussion on ethics and democratic values. This conviction rests on my own cartography of the socio-economic conditions of subjects in advanced capitalism as resulting in a global form of post-humanism. I want to argue as a matter of pragmatic consideration that the traditional unitary subject-position has become displaced under the contradictory pressure of global, post-industrial social-relations. The global economy manifests itself through a number of ‘G-local’ power effects. I described these (Braidotti 2002) as the simultaneity of opposite social effects, resulting in extreme polarization in terms of access to the benefits of the technological revolution between the have’s and the have not’s. The flow of capital undeterred by topological constraints simultaneously de-materializes social realities and hardens their structural injustices. Advanced technologies are central to the shifts in power relations that mark the era of globalization. The most distinctive trait of contemporary culture and society is the convergence between different and previously differentiated branches of technology. This reflects also the trans-disciplinary or nomadic structure of contemporary scientific thinking (Stengers 1987). Thus, I will not maintain the distinction between biotechnologies and genetic engineering on the one hand and information and communication technologies on the other. They are equally co-present in driving home the spectacular effects of contemporary technological transformations, especially in terms of their impact on the gendered human subjects, who are the focus of my enquiry. All technologies have a strong ‘bio-power’ effect, in that they affect bodies and immerse them in social relations of power, inclusion and exclusion (Bryld and Lykke, 1999). Thus, cyborgs, in the sense of bodies that are technologically mediated include not only the high-tech, fit bodies of jet-fighters, or of cultural icons from Hollywood, but also the anonymous masses of under-paid and exploited bodies of mostly women and children in off-shore production plants and in those increasing pockets of underpaid labour within advanced economies, who fuel the technologically-driven global economy (Braidotti 2002). The point is that the global economy does not function in a linear manner, but is rather web-like, scattered and poly-centered. It is not monolithic, but rather an internally contradictory process, the effects of which are differentiated geo-politically and along gender and ethnicity lines, to name only the main ones. This creates a few methodological difficulties for the social critic, because it translates into a heteroglossia of data, which makes both liberal and modernist social theories inadequate to cope with the complexities. My assumption here is that we need to adopt non-linearity as a major principle and to develop cartographies of power that account for the paradoxes and contradictions of the era of globalization, and which do not take shortcuts through its complexities. My position is pragmatic: we need schemes of thought and figurations that enable us to account in empowering and positive terms for the changes and transformations


currently on the way. We already live in emancipated (post-feminist), multi-ethnic societies with high degrees of technological intervention. These are neither simple, nor linear events, but rather multi-layered and internally contradictory phenomena. They combine elements of ultra-modernity with splinters of neo-archaism: high tech advances and neo-primitivism, which defy the logic of excluded middle. Contemporary culture and institutional philosophy are unable to represent these realities adequately. They favour instead the predictably plaintive refrains about the end of ideologies, run concurrently with the apology of the “ new”. Nostalgia and hyper-consumerism join hands, under the expressionless gaze of neo-liberal restoration. In my assessment, the unitary vision of the subject cannot provide an effective antidote to the processes of fragmentation, flows and mutations, which mark our era. In ethics, as in social and political theory, we need to learn to think differently about ourselves and our systems of values, starting with adequate cartographies of our embedded and embodied positions. My own cartography of the globalization process would definitely involve the following: it as one of the distinctive traits of advanced capitalism; which extends beyond the nation-states (Giddens 1994; Dahrendorf add, Appadurai 1994); it is headless and centre-less, yet hegemonic (Grewal 1994); mobile and flexible, yet fixed and very local (Sassen 1994); inherently violent and ruthless, thus prone to selfdestruction; as a system, it is illogical and without an end-point, aiming only at selfperpetuation (Negri 2000); it has produced the paradox of simultaneously contradictory effects, namely the homogenisation of commodity culture in terms of consumeristic practices, coupled with huge disparities and structural inequalities . In the West this has resulted in promoting a transformation of the private sphere and a feminization of the public sphere (Giddens 1994). It promotes multiculturalism as a marketing strategy, while reiterating racialized stereotypes (Gilroy, 2000). It is embedded and supported by a major technological revolution, in both the fields of biotechnologies and of information technologies. They in turn result in the compression of the time-space continuum of modernity (Castells 1996). The vision of the human subject that I defend is non-unitary The nomadic subject is a conceptual form of self-reflexivity which is specifically addressed to the subjects who occupy the centre – one of the many centres that dot the web of the scattered hegemonical powers of advanced post-modernity. Deleuze, speaking from his own location, defines them as: “male/ white/ heterosexual/ educated/speaking a standard European language/living in urban centres/owning property”. The fact that thinking is a nomadic activity, which takes place in the spaces in-between, in the transitions does not make it a ‘view from nowhere’. To be nomadic or in transition, therefore, does not place the thinking subject outside history or time. Thinking may not be topologically bound, especially in the age of the global economy and telematic networks, but it certainly is not outside the temporal span of history. Quite on the contrary, I want to connect the nomadic subject position to the issue of locations as spatio-temporal conditions: it is a form of politics of locations. Thus, post modernity as a specific moment of our historicity is a major location that needs to be accounted for, in both spatial and temporal terms. A location is an embedded and embodied memory. It is a set of counter-memories which are activated by the resisting thinker against the grain of the dominant representations of subjectivity. A location is a materialist temporal


and spatial site of co-production of the subject, and thus anything but an instance of relativism. On a more political level, I have argued that post modernity as a historical moment marks the decline of some of the fundamental premises of the Enlightenment, namely the progress of mankind through a self-regulatory and teleologically ordained use of reason and of scientific rationality allegedly aimed at the ‘perfectibility’ of Man. The emancipatory project of modernity entails a view of “ the knowing subject” (Lloyd 1985) which excludes several ‘boundary markers’ also known as ‘constitutive others’. These are: the sexualized other, also known as women, the ethnic or racialized others and the natural environment. They constitute the three inter-connected facets of structural otherness or difference as pejoration, which simultaneously construct and are excluded in modernity (Beauvoir 1949; Irigaray 1974; Deleuze 1980). As such I argue that they play an important - albeit specular- role in the definition of the norm, the norm-al, the norm-ative view of the subject. More specifically, they have been instrumental to the institution of masculine self-assertion (Woolf), or ‘Logic of the Same’ (Irigaray 1974). To say that the structural others of the modern subject re-emerge in post modernity amounts to making them into a paradoxical and polyvalent site. They are simultaneously the symptom of the crisis of the subject – and for conservatives even its ‘cause’, but they also express positive, i.e.: non-reactive alternatives. It is a historical fact that the great emancipatory movements of post-modernity are driven and fuelled by the resurgent ‘others’: the women’s rights movement; the anti-racism and de-colonisation movements; the anti-nuclear and pro-environment movements are the voices of the structural Others of modernity. They also inevitably mark the crisis of the former “centre” or dominant subject-position. In the language of philosophical nomadology, they express both the crisis of the majority and the patterns of becoming of the minorities. The whole point consists in being able to tell the difference between these different flows of mutation. The criterion by which such difference can be established is ethical and its implications political as well as cultural. This configuration of non-dialectical power, in which different modes of mobility or transformation are enacted results in the emergence of several, multilayered and complex discourses around powers and bodies. Foucault attempts an analysis of this regime in terms of ‘bio-power’. “Bio-power” understood as power over living matter per se is a good enough shorthand definition of a complex problem in the new world order. In such a fast-expanding and socially contested field, however, the very notion of bios/zoe or life is called into question in a variety of ways. Life itself becomes the subject and not the object of enquiry. This emphasis on life as bios-zoe opens up the eco-philosophical dimension of the problem, it inaugurates alternative ecologies of belonging. It also marks a shift away from anthropo-centrism, towards a new emphasis on the inextricable entanglement of material, bio-cultural and symbolic forces in the making of the subject. It is a sort of bio-centered egalitarianism which forces a reconsideration of the concept of subjectivity in terms of ‘life-forces’, and also marks the emergence of the Earth as a planetary political agent. Contemporary culture shows a remarkable lack of creativity in dealing with its own paradoxes. It experiences its mutations in a neo-Gothic mode which combines trauma with horror. The notion of ”life itself” expresses also the inability of philosophy as a


discipline to think adequately about the body, as Nietzsche pointed out over one century ago. The embodied structure of the subject is usually expressed negatively through the problems and the difficulties it creates - rather than as a positive factor. In other words, bodily materialism is burdened by a historical legacy of negativity, which often translates into discursive aporia. The second point concerns the political economy of affects in advanced post modernity, more especially the fear of catastrophe or the imminence of a fatal accident, in the political economy of contemporary post-industrial societies. This ‘eco-philosophical’ dimension is very acute in contemporary culture and related forms of subjectivity. The terror of the impending catastrophe which used to be represented by the nuclear threat but nowadays has shifted to the imminent threat of ecological disaster, genetic mutation or immunity breakdown. As Brian Massumi put it in his analysis of the political regime of advanced capitalism, (Massumi, 1992b), in post-industrial global systems, the accident is virtually certain, its unfolding merely a question of time. I see it as a permanent and all-pervasive form of insecurity about the present’s capacity to sustain itself, and thus to engender the conditions of possibility for a sustainable future. It is important to live up to this insight, without precipitating into paranoia or frenzy, which is the manic-depressive mode favoured by our culture. The first step to take is to confront the challenge of our historicity, thus resisting the traditional move that disconnects philosophical thought from its context. This move entails the assumption of responsibility or accountability so that one can engage actively with the social and cultural conditions that define one’s location. The ultimate aim is to negotiate spaces of resistance to the new master narratives of the global economy. The second step entails the need to rethink affects in a less frenzied or paranoid mode than contemporary techno-culture allows: a more neutral manner. I think that the bodily materialism which is promoted by philosophical nomadism offers some powerful alternatives to both the neo-determinism of the geneticists, the euphoria of their commercial and financial backers and the techno-utopianism of their academic apologists. One of the most vocal champions of contemporary conservative or neo-liberal restoration is Frances Fukuyama. For decades now he has been leading a crusade against French critical theory and radical epistemologies, perfecting the rhetorical skills that consist in perverting every argument or theory to make it fit into his ineluctable and undemonstrated conclusion, namely that the ‘free’ market economy is the inevitable outcome of world historical progress. In his recent work on the post human condition, Fukuyama re-instates belief in human nature, against all brands of social constructivism. He takes the evidence provided by contemporary molecular biology, genetics and the neurological sciences, to demonstrate the existence of inbuilt natural traits in all humans. What this newly recovered human nature actually consists of is never fully made explicit, although the case is made for the convergence between such human nature and Western-style liberal democracies. One of the more objectionable aspects of Fukuyama’s position is that he claims the term ‘humanism’ for it. In his heclectic and inconsistent manner, the neo-conservative thinker combines a rigid, classical definition of scientific rationality with the fluidity of market economy liberal individualism. This amounts to combining the worst of


both systems in a nostalgic approach to contemporary techno-culture. To call all this ‘humanism’s a way of adding insult to injury. It is against the background of such a conservative social climate, that I want to challenge the monopoly that Anglo-American liberal philosophy seems to claim over discussions on democratic norms and values and to criticize it in the context of power relations in contemporary societies. I would make a special case for having poststructuralist ethics of sustainable nomadic shifts accepted as a relevant and viable partner in this debate. We need new sets of translations across different philosophical cultures. Transpositions of ideas, norms, practices, communities and theoretical genealogies have to be allowed and ever encouraged. We need more nomadic shifts and more hybridisation, which address corporate interests and pre-established divisions of labour. Life (bios-zoe) itself The distinctive trait of the historical era of post modernity is the extent to which technology has come to be inscribed as a major factor in both displacing and subsequently in re-territorializing the categorical dividing lines between the different domains. These are not a neutral divide, but rather a highly sexualized and racialized one. I want to argue, therefore, that the bio-technological interventions neither suspend nor do they automatically improve the social relations of exclusion and inclusion that historically had been predicated along the sexualized and racialized lines of demarcation of ‘otherness’. In some ways, the on-going technological revolution merely intensifies the patterns of traditional discrimination and exploitation (Eisenstein 1998; Shiva 1997; Gilroy 2000). Central to my idea of philosophical nomadism is the exploration of the implications of the global economy for the subject him/her self, mostly due to the mutual interdependence of bodies and technologies. The symbiotic relationship between the two as a viral or parasitic relationship, central to the ‘prosthetic culture’ of contemporary cyborg-subjects. The cyborg is a techno-body which is saturated by a complex web of dynamic and technologically mediated social relations. We have all become the subjects of bio-power, but we differ considerably in the degrees and modes of access to that very power. So much so, that I think the category of “bios”, or life has cracked under the strain and has splintered in a web of inter-related “life”-effects. Some of these are very closely related to that aspect of life that goes by the name of death but is nonetheless an integral part of the bios/zoe process. Let me emphasize a number of features of this political cartography which takes life as the subject of political discourse. The first main point is that the techno-logical body is in fact an eco-logical unit. This zoe-technos-body is marked by the interdependence with its environment, through a structure of mutual flows and datatransfer which is best configured by the notion of viral contamination, or intensive inter-connectedness. This ecology of belonging is complex and multi-layered. Secondly, that this environmentally-bound subject is a collective entity and as such it moves beyond the parameters of classical humanism and anthropocentrism. The human organism is an in-between that is plugged into and connected to a variety of possible sources and forces. As such it is useful to define it as a machine, which


does not mean an appliance or anything with a specifically utilitarian aim, but rather something that is simultaneously more abstract and more materially embedded. My minimalist definition of a body-machine is: an embodied affective and intelligent entity that captures, processes and transforms energies and forces. Being environmentally-bound and territorially-based, an embodied entity feeds upon, incorporates and transforms its environment (be it ‘natural’, ‘social’, ‘human’, or whatever) constantly. Being embodied in this high-tech ecological manner means being immersed in fields of constant flows and transformations. Not all of them are positive, of course, although in such a dynamic system this cannot be known or judged a priori. Thirdly, such a subject of bios-zoe power raises questions of ethical urgency: given the acceleration of processes of change, how can we tell the difference among the different flows of changes and transformations? In this framework I want to defend a sustainable brand of nomadic ethics, based on Spinoza, but processed through Deleuze, Irigaray and my own considerations. The starting point is the relentless generative force of bios/zoe and the specific brand of trans-species egalitarianism, which they establish with the human. The ecological dimension of philosophical nomadism – its bio-philosophical component - consequently becomes manifest and, with it its potential ethical impact. It is a matter of forces, and of ethology. Fourthly, the specific temporality of the subject needs to be re-thought. The subject is an evolutionary engine, endowed with his/her own embodied temporality, both in the sense of the specific timing of the genetic code and the more genealogical time of individualized memories. If the embodied subject of bio-power is a complex molecular organism; a bio-chemical factory of steady and jumping genes; an evolutionary entity endowed with its own navigational tools and an in-built temporality, then we need a form of ethical values and political agency that reflects this high degree of complexity. Last, but not least, this ethical approach cannot be dissociated from considerations of power. This 'bios-zoe' -centered vision of the technologically mediated subject of post modernity or advanced capitalism is fraught with internal contradictions. Accounting for them is the cartographic task of critical theory (Braidotti 2002) and an integral part of this project is the implications they entail for the historically situated vision of the subject. The bios-zoe-centered egalitarianism which is potentially conveyed by the current technological transformations has dire consequences for the humanistic vision of the subject. The potency of 'bios-zoe', in other words, displaces the phallo-logocentric vision of consciousness, which hinges on the sovereignty of the "I". It can no longer be safely assumed that consciousness coincides with subjectivity, nor that either of them is in charge of the course of historical events. Both liberal individualism and classical humanism are disrupted at their very foundations by the social and symbolic transformations induced by our historical condition. Far from being merely a 'crisis' of values, I think this situation confronts us with a formidable set of new opportunities. Renewed conceptual creativity and a leap of the social imaginary are needed in order to meet the challenge. I want to argue that classical humanism, with its rationalistic and anthropocentric assumptions is of hindrance, rather than of assistance, in this process. I propose a post-humanistic brand of non-anthropocentric vitalism, inspired by philosophical nomadism, as one possible response to this challenge.


One of the most pointed paradoxes of our era is precisely the clash between the urgency of finding new and alternative modes of political and ethical agency on the one hand, and the inertia or self-interests of neo- conservatism on the other. In this context, I want to side firmly with the technological forces, but against the liberal individualistic appropriation of their potential. I would like to emphasize instead the liberatory and transgressive potential of these technologies, against the predatory forces that attempt to index them yet again onto a centralized, white, male, heterosexual, Eurocentric, capital-owning, standardized vision of the subject. I want to think through and alongside these axes of power and to challenge them, not in order to play them back onto the classical humanistic subject-position. I would much rather explore their diversity in order to seek for adequate forms of non-unitary, nomadic and yet accountable modes of envisaging both subjectivity and democratic human ethical interaction. This does not reject universalism, but rather expands it, to make it more inclusive. My quarrel with humanism, in such a context, has to do with the limitations of its own historical relevance in the present context. In other words, I do not have an implicit mistrust if its tenets – be it in the secular version of the Renaissance ideal, in the more Protestant version of humanist tolerance or in the universalistic mode of human rights. I have rather become convinced that classical humanism needs to be reviewed and opened up to the challenges and complexities of our times. I want to put my own conviction to the test in this chapter, by addressing some concrete issues in the light of a politics of life defined as bios-zoe power, which opens the possibility of the proliferation of highly generative post-humanities. My position in favour of complexity promotes a continuing emphasis on the radical ethics of transformation and it shifts the emphasis from a unitary into nomadic subjectivity, thus running against the grain of contemporary neo-liberal conservatism. This amounts essentially to a rejection of individualism, which however asserts an equally strong distance from relativism or nihilistic defeatism. A sustainable ethics for a non-unitary subject proposes an enlarged sense of inter-connection between self and others, including the non-human or ‘earth’ others, by removing the obstacle of selfcentered individualism. This is not the same as absolute loss of values - as we shall see in the next section. It rather implies a new way of combining self-interests with the well-being of an enlarged sense of community, which includes one’s territorial or environmental inter-connections. This is an ethical bond of an altogether different sort from the self-interests of an individual subject, as defined along the canonical lines of classical humanism. It is a nomadic eco-philosophy of multiple belongings. This also affects the question of universal values. Contemporary science and biotechnologies affect the very fibre and structure of the living, creating a negative unity among humans. The Human genome project for instance unifies all the human species in the urgency to organize an opposition against commercially-owned and profit-minded technologies. Franklin, Lury and Stacey refer to this situation as "panhumanity" (2000:26), that is to say a global sense of inter-connection between the human and the non-human environment, as well as among the different sub-species within each category, which creates a web of intricate inter-dependences. Most of this mutual dependence is of the negative kind: " as a global population at shared risk of global environmental destruction and united by collective global images" (2000: 26). There are also positive elements, however, to this form of post-modern human inter-


connection. Franklin et alia argue that this re-universalization of one of the effects of the global economy and it is part of the recontextualization of the market economy currently under way. They also describe it in deleuzian terms, as the "unlimited finitude", or a "visualization without horizon" and see it as a potentially positive source of resistance. The paradox of this new pan-humanity is not only the sense of shared and associated risks, but also the pride in technological achievements and in the wealth that comes with them. In a more positive note, there is no doubt that " we are in this together". Any nomadic philosophy of sustainability worthy of its name will have to start from this assumption and re-iterate it as a fundamental value. The point, however, is to define the "we" part and the "this" content, that is to say the community in its relation to singular subjects and the norms and values for a political eco-philosophy of sustainability. The state of the debates on these issues in fields as diverse as environmental, political, social and ethical theories, to name just a few, shows however a range of potentially contradictory positions. From the 'world governance idea' to the ideal of a 'world ethos', through a large variety of ecological brands of feminism, the field is wide open. In other words, we are witnessing a proliferation of locally situated universalist claims. Far form being a symptom of relativism, I see them as asserting the radical immanence of the subject. They constitute the starting point for a web of intersecting forms of situated accountability, that is to say an ethics. The whole point is to elaborate sets of criteria for a new ethical system to be brought into being that steers a course between humanistic nostalgia and neo-liberal euphoria. An ethics of sustainable forces that takes life (as bios and as zoe) as the point of reference not for the sake of restoration of unitary norms, or the celebration of the master-narrative of global profit, but for the sake of sustainability. This general and widespread call for new global values, popularised in terms of the global civil society lends strength to my main argument. Namely, that such a web of localized universalisms and g-local claims to re-think the fact that “we” are in this together would benefit from and also help implement a non-unitary vision of the ethical subject. In disagreement with the humanistic vision of unified consciousness as the supervisor and owner of the truth about subjectivity, I want to defend instead the vision of a nomadic, sustainable ethical subject as a way of radicalising the humanistic vision. I offer such an alternative in a productive and peaceful manner, so as to join forces against the swelling tide of the neo-deterministic, neo-liberal master narratives of this early part of the third millennium. The rhizomatic web of g-localized claims for new forms of universalism which aim at re-grounding the values which animate the non-unitary subject inevitably raise issues that are usually and hastily classified under the heading of spirituality. Such a claim needs to be qualified critically, considering the popularity of neo-eschatological visions of catastrophe and redemption, which circulate nowadays. The resurgence of “new age” spiritual practices is also a salient feature of the contemporary landscape. It is also urgent to contextualize and take into account the return of religious movements of all kinds – including the fundamentalists- as a geo-political force at the start of the new millennium. It is just because of these phenomena that the issue of spirituality needs to be rethought from within the post-Enlightenment tradition of secularity. This is not the residual mysticism of a notion of life as pure becoming, empty of meaning,


but rather a concrete plan for embedding and embodying new formations of living subjects. Not an evolutionary tale, but a qualitative leap of values, i.e.: a materialist project. Edward Said, in his influential work on orientalism (1978) first alerted critical theorists in the West about the need to develop a reasoned and secular account of Enlightenment-based humanism. Following Said the ‘postcolonial’ movement argued for and documented the extent to which the Enlightenment ideals of reason, secular tolerance, equality under the Law and democratic rule, need not be and indeed historically have not been – mutually exclusive with European practices of violent domination, exclusion and systematic and instrumental use of terror. Acknowledging that reason and barbarism are not self-contradictory, nor are Enlightenment and horror, need not result in either cultural relativism, or in moral nihilism. As the poststructuralist left has been arguing on the aftermath of colonialism, Auschwitz, Hiroshima and the Soviet Goulag, we need to be historically accountable for both the promises of the Enlightenment as an ideal and for its monstrous shortcomings. On the basis of this location of historical accountability a revised and more critical brand of humanistic thought and practice needs to be developed, on the debris of the unkept promises. This practice is a form of resistance against the horrors that have been bred by the West arrogant assumption that the motor of human evolution is the progressive historical implementation of rational premises which emerge –like the goddess Athena – fully clad and armed for battle, from the father’s head. Phallocentrism and Eurocentrism need to be dislodged, if Western humanism is to regain any credibility at all. Said’s formulation about the role of post-colonial intellectuals located in one of the many diasporas that mark the contemporary globalized world, has proved controversial. As Spivak’s criticism indicates, this position can be accused of justifying the role of intellectuals as representatives of the sufferings of others. This is often perceived as a form of violence, which reproduces global power relations. The alternative of postulating the vocal defense of the ‘homelands’ as the task of the many diasporic intellectuals that inhabit the academic world is not satisfactory. What we are left with, therefore, is the positioning of critical voices in an area in-between the different and often conflicting understandings of ‘home’. The deeply secular and nonromanticized understanding of both ‘home culture’ and of ‘exile’ seems to me one of Edward Said’s lasting legacies. In keeping with this legacy, and in opposition to liberal neo-humanism Homi Bhabha supports a revisitation of the notion of secularism, which he wants to attach to the subalterns’ existence and experience. With reference to Nussbaum, he argues that secularism, like all the key concepts of the Enlightenment – individualism and liberalism - appear more self-evident than it is. Bhabha wants to broaden the relevance and applicability of this concept to cover the “colonial and imperial enterprise, which was an integral part of that same Enlightenment”(Bhabha, 1996: 209). Bhabha argues that we need to separate secularism from its Western roots and its “unquestioned adherence to a kind of ethnocentric and Eurocentric belief in the self-proclaimed values of modernization” (Bhabha, 1996:209). In other words, it is important to address the issue of religious belief and of spiritual values in a transnational mode. In this endeavour, aimed to reach a hybrid brand of


cosmopolitanism, the notion of individualism is not helpful – in that it implies a ‘freedom of choice’, which bears no relation to the history of marginalized and oppressed people of colonial descent. This amounts to making liberalism broader and to extend it to those very subjects who historically never enjoyed the tolerance and solidarity, which it preaches. Bhabha shrewdly points out that a secular space is the only social location that would allow for a serious and peaceful confrontation of the conflicting understandings of secularism itself, let alone of the comparative values of different religions. Fighting for such subaltern secular spaces is a priority for a postmodern quest for what I would define as secular spirituality. I think that those who inhabit the paradoxes of technologically mediated societies need new cosmologies and world views that are appropriate to our own high level of technological development and to the global issues that are connected with it. We also need political analysis that does justice to the ferocious and insidious sets of structural injustices and repeated modes of dispossession or eviction that mark the global economy. New forms of transcendence are needed to cope with the new global civilization we have entered and which encompasses all the earth and also beyond it, to our immediate cosmic space. We need cultural, spiritual, ethical values, be it myths, narratives or representations that are adequate to this new civilization we inhabit. These need not be modelled on the universalism that is so dear to moral philosophers, especially those of the Kantian tradition. More creativity is needed to re-figure this ethical inter-connection. Instead of falling back on the sedimented habits of thought which past tradition has institutionalized, I would like to propose a leap forward into the complexities and paradoxes of our times. Whatever concept or practice of a new pan-humanity we may be able to come up with, can only be a paradoxical mixture, which projects humanity in between a future that cannot be guaranteed and a fast rate of progress which demands one. What is ultimately at stake in this, as we shall see in the second part of this book, is the very possibility of the future that is to say a sustainable present. LIST OF WORKS CITED Appadurai, Arjan (1994) ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy’, in P. Williams and L. Chrisman (eds.) Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: a reader. New York: Western University Press, pp. 324-39. Bhabha, Homi, K. (1996) ‘Unpacking my library... again’, in: Chamber, Iain and Curti, Lidia (eds.) The Post-Colonial Question. Common Skies, Divided Horizons. New York and London: Routledge. Beauvoir, de, Simone (1949) Le deuxième sexe. Paris: Gallimard. Braidotti, Rosi (2002b) Metamorphoses. Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming. Cambridge, UK and Malden, USA: Polity Press/Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Bryld, Nette and Lykke, Nina (1999) Cosmodolphins. Feminist Cultural Studies of Technologies, Animals and the Sacred. London: Zed Books.


Castells, Manuel (1996) The Rise of the Network Society. Blackwell's, Oxford, 1996. Dahrendorf, R. (1990) Reflections on the Revolution in Europe in a letter intended to have been sent to a gentleman in Warsaw. London, Chatto & Windus. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari (1980) Mille plateaux. Capitalisme et schizophrénie. II. Paris: Minuit. Eisenstein, Zillah (1998) Global Obscenities. Patriarchy, Capitalism and the lure of Cyberfantasy. New York: New York University Press. Franklin, Sarah, Celia Lury, Jackie Stacey (2000) Global Nature, Global Culture. London: Sage. Giddens, Anthony (1994) Beyond Left and Right: The Future of Radical Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. Gilroy, Paul (2000) Against race. Imaging Political Culture Beyond the Colour Line. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Irigaray, Luce (1974) Spéculum. De l'autre femme. Paris: Minuit. English translation (1985a) Speculum of the Other Woman. Transl. Gillian Gill, Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Lloyd, Genevieve (1985) The Man of Reason. London: Methuen. Massumi, Brian (1992b) 'Anywhere you want to be: an introduction to fear', in Broadhurst, Joan (ed.) Deleuze and the Transcendental Unconscious. Warwick Journal of Philosophy. Hardt, Micheal and Negri, Antonio (2000). Empire. Harvard University Press. Sassen, Saskia (1994) Cities in a World Economy. Thousand Oaks and London: Pine Forge Press/Sage. Said, Edward (1978) Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; Toronto: Random House. Shiva, Vandana (1997) Biopiracy. The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. Boston: South End Press. Stengers, Isabelle (1987) D'une science à l'autre. Des concepts nomades, Paris: Seuil. Woolf, Virginia, (1939) Three Guineas. Penguin.

Critical theory Today: Perspectives and Practices  

Prof. Rosi Braidotti Director Netherlands Research School Women’s Studies Utrecht University Paper delivered at the Conference: ‘Critical th...

Critical theory Today: Perspectives and Practices  

Prof. Rosi Braidotti Director Netherlands Research School Women’s Studies Utrecht University Paper delivered at the Conference: ‘Critical th...