Altering absence: From race to empire in readings of Foucault
1 - 20 p.
sexuality, coloniality, race, liberalism, Foucault
This article will address sexuality as a medium of empire, approaching this question through the absence of empire in Foucault’s history of sexuality. This absence of empire is all the more enigmatic given that it coincides with the omnipresence of race. To that extent, I argue for an “alteration of absence” in the reading of Foucault. Acknowledging the paradoxical presence of race--perhaps even its centrality--in Foucault’s analysis of sexuality and liberalism is a necessary step to reveal the depth of another absence, that of empire and coloniality. The article discusses this blind spot in Foucault’s work, arguing that a form of racial distinction operates through sexuality. It attempts to assess how influential this “imperial absence” is to the genealogy of sexuality and race. Lastly, it also sketches some possible reconfigurations of Foucault’s theses when read in colonial or postcolonial contexts.