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Social Identities Vol. 16, No.

5, September 2010, 587596

Resisting Foucault: the necessity of appropriation

Ian Goodwin-Smith*
School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia (Received 11 November 2009; nal version received 10 May 2010) Michel Foucaults legacy muddies theoretical waters, forcing strange synergies and theoretical configurations. Growing from the murky ferment of French colonial history, the father of poststructuralisms story is as complex as that encounter, and his legacy is as mutating, unsettling and transformative. This paper focuses on the mutation and use of Foucault by Edward Said and, in a smaller but parallel way, on the transformative relationship between poststructuralism and postcolonialism. Through that focus, the paper offers a defence of a strategic or amateuristic theoretical appropriation of Foucaults work, both as an unavoidable necessity, and as a methodology of resistance to discipline and power which marries with the oeuvre and the tenor of Foucault. Keywords: Foucault; postcolonialism; discourse; hegemony; Edward Said; appropriation

Introduction Twenty five years after his death, reflecting on Michel Foucault is an enormous task. His influence permeates disparate and innumerable fields and informs so much of our thinking. Foucaults influence is one of ramifying and far reaching transdisciplinary complexity. His legacy muddies the theoretical waters, forcing strange synergies and theoretical configurations such as the antifoundational humanist. Growing from the murky ferment of French colonial history, the father of poststructuralisms story is as complex as that encounter, and his legacy is as mutating, unsettling and transformative. Amidst the murkiness, of all the mutants which Foucaults legacy contains, the antifoundational humanist is just one, but one which is important. The term antifoundational humanism invokes the spirit of Edward Said and his famous half embrace of Foucault, which he allied with an enduring commitment to humanism that out-survived him in the posthumous publication Humanism and Democratic Criticism (Said, 2003). That half embrace is central to Saids work, and it locates Foucault as a pivotal figure in the work of Said. But, far from being derivative, Said has in fact been strongly criticised for his theoretical impurity and his partial use of Foucault. The genealogy is far from straightforward, especially in light of the fact that Said was a contemporary of Foucault and was amongst the absolute first people in the English speaking academy to engage with Foucault. You could argue that Said is
ISSN 1350-4630 print/ISSN 1363-0296 online # 2010 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/13504630.2010.509561


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central to Foucault too: he is, in important and historical ways, the conduit the beginning through which many of us in the English speaking academy discovered Foucault. There is a murkiness there an unfixable genealogy which characterises the relationship between Said and Foucault, and which characterises the work of both theorists and their theoretical legacies. It is a murkiness which this paper casts as being strategic, deliberate and inadvertent all at once, and it is an unfixability born of accident and design which defines the strength and the breadth of each thinkers legacy. It is through this theoretical impurity and unfixability that Foucaults legacy finds an agency and a cogency. It is through this murkiness that such a legacy finds a use which both befits and becomes it. This paper focuses on the use of Foucault by Said and, in a smaller but parallel way, on the relationship between poststructuralism and postcolonialism. Through that focus, the paper offers a defence of a strategic or amateuristic theoretical appropriation of Foucaults work, both as an unavoidable necessity, and as a methodology of resistance to discipline and power which marries with the oeuvre and the tenor of Foucault.

Foucault and the postcolonial: inadvertent arrivals It is through Said that Foucault finds himself at the centre of postcolonial studies, but he finds himself there inadvertently. Reading Said, and engaging with his reading of Foucault, was pivotal in the development of postcolonial studies, and it is that reading which puts Foucault at the heart of postcolonial thinking, or which contributes strongly to the embedding of the poststructural in the postcolonial. But there is an alternative counter-reading, which again unsettles any fixed genealogy and which claims a postcolonial beginning for poststructuralism. That is something which Pal Ahluwalia teases out in his examination of poststructuralisms postcolonial roots. Ahluwalia makes the observation that poststructuralism required a contorted postcolonial experience a postcolonial transcendence, or twisting, turning and interweaving of positions as a precondition (Ahluwalia, 2005). His thesis, to paraphrase, is that the inflections and the transformations which the postcolonial experience produces are prerequisites for the other posts. Using the example of Cixous and Derrida, he states:
The sense of departing but not arriving in the case of both of these border intellectuals . . . illustrates the transformative nature of post-colonial societies. It occludes the distinctions between the coloniser and the colonised. It speaks of the kind of globalisation that implicates different cultures within each other. It helps to break down the binaries such as metropolitan/colonial, developed/underdeveloped, civilised/ primitive. By drawing on what I have termed elsewhere post-colonial inflections, we see how post-colonial subjects confront their colonial legacy and define their post-colonial future. (Ahluwalia, 2005, pp. 151152)

The disturbances which the postcolonial produces the Algerian disruption, to cite the foregoing examples are what Ahluwalia casts as formative moments for the other posts. Poststructuralism, by this logic, is a product of a postcolonial interweaving and twisting, hybridising impulse.

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The embedding of Foucault in Said, and of poststructuralism in postcolonialism, is far from a straightforward phenomenon, and it defies, on examination, clean and linear genealogies of theory. Further, this embedding constitutes quite a strange, tangential and, as suggested, inadvertent slippage. Two things emerge straight away when considering the relationship between Said and Foucault. One is the notion of the inadvertent arrival of Foucault at unexpected intellectual locations. The other is this notion of an unfixable genealogy and the notion of theoretical impurity. Both of these points are more or less the same thing they are certainly interconnected and mutually reinforcing, but it is worth teasing them out in turn, starting with this issue of inadvertent arrivals before further investigating the idea of unfixable genealogy. One of the most paradoxical ramifications of the Foucauldian legacy is into the area of postcolonial theorising. It is paradoxical because of the enormous and multidirectional intersection between Foucault and postcolonialism on the one hand and because, on the other, Foucaults analysis of the central postcolonial concerns of race and racism in The Will to Knowledge (1978) and Society Must Be Defended (2003) occurs in the absence of any consideration of the colonial context of discipline and biopolitics. Ann Laura Stoler comments on the absence of an attention to contexts of colonialism in Foucault. She says:
Foucault traces the biopolitics that emerged in the early 1700s and flourished in nineteenth-century Europe along axes that are sui generis to Europe . . . His genealogies of nineteenth-century bourgeois identity are not only deeply rooted in a self-referential western culture but bounded by Europes geographic parameters. (Stoler, 1995, p. 14)

This was something Said had previously noted. After such a seminal use of Foucault in his book Orientalism (Said, 1978), and after bringing Foucault into the postcolonial fold, Said observed in his later publication, Culture and Imperialism that, for Foucault, the imperial experience is quite irrelevant (Said, 1993, p. 41). And it is a phenomenon which is noted by numerous other commentators too, including Robert Young, in his piece, Foucault on Race and Colonialism, who says:
Foucault had a lot to say about power, but he was curiously circumspect about the ways in which it operated in the arenas of race and colonialism. His virtual silence on these issues is striking. (Young, 1995, p. 1)

Gayatri Spivak makes similar observations about Foucault in her famous work, Can the Subaltern Speak?, where she writes about Foucault foreclosing a reading of imperialism (Spivak, 1988, p. 291). The oddness of this omission and foreclosing is captured well by Young, noting that it occurs in:
. . . the context of the Paris of Satre, Fanon, Althusser, the traumatic defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the Algerian War of Independence and the National Liberation Movements of the 1950s and 1960s. (Young, 1995, p. 1)

As Ahluwalia notes, there is a foundation of postcolonial disturbances at the root of Foucaults poststructuralism that is what, to paraphrase Foucaults terms, precedes the author (Foucault, 1984, pp. 118119). What is striking to Young is that, in spite of the presence of the postcolonial in the poststructural, there is a poststructural


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silence on postcolonial issues. The paradox is that in spite of this silence, the poststructural does end up, inadvertently and in its turn, deeply embedded within the postcolonial, in a way which makes a genealogy of Foucault and precedence particularly elliptical and slippery.

Unfixable genealogies There is this inadvertent arrival of Foucault in unexpected and unconsidered places in places or positions such as the postcolonial. That gives a context in which to understand Saids partial use of Foucault. It gives us an understanding of the pull towards theoretical impurity which Foucault invites. Indeed, if Said had made a full embrace of Foucault and anchored himself in a self-referential Western cultural framework, Said could not have existed. To use Saids own terms, he approaches Foucault as an amateur rather than a professional or an expert (Said, 1994). Saids amateurism is about judicious and purposeful or located pragmatism and appropriation of, or affiliation with, disparate disciplines and epistemologies. It is precisely about rejecting pure genealogical heritage and filial, purebred theory. Bill Ashcroft and Pal Ahluwalia capture the logic of Saids methodology with profound simplicity. Referring to Saids engagement with Foucault they say, with a clarity that is almost resonant of a child-like innocence, he took from Foucault only what he required (Ashcroft & Ahluwalia, 1999, p. 23). In such simple terms, the utility of that approach is inarguably compelling, and it is one which mirrors the logic of a conversation between Foucault and Gilles Deleuze published under the title Intellectuals and Power (Foucault, 1977). It is a position, or approach, which Foucault advocated himself with a reference to his books as little tool boxes in his 1975 interview with Roger Pol Droit (Foucault, 1975, p. 16). But it is an approach which received some criticism. In what must be one of the better known book reviews of the last century, James Clifford criticised Saids partial use or half embrace of Foucault as being theoretically confused. At its simplest, Cliffords critique is that Saids methodological catholicity repeatedly blurs his analysis (Clifford, 1980, p. 219). Against this though, it seems fair to say that, certainly, Saids methodological catholicity blurs any search for methodological purity or self-referential genealogy, but that kind of pedigree is precisely what both Said and Foucault sought to disrupt. Said puts a claim on this position or disruption well. He says:
I am inevitably criticized by younger post-colonialists . . . for being inconsistent and untheoretical, and I find that I like that who wants to be consistent? (Said, cited in Ashcroft, 1996, p. 8)

That is Saids position. A critique of that position is nothing more than a tautological reinscription of a modern obsession with purity, or filiation rather than affiliation, as Said would put it. Ashcroft and Ahluwalia capture the self-serving and tautological nature of that kind of critique for critiques sake. They say:
. . . criticisms that insist upon [Saids] inadequate or incomplete use of Foucault are criticisms more interested in Foucault than in Said. (Ashcroft & Ahluwalia, 1999, p. 28)

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This is an excellent point. Saids work is highly impure, but to suggest that such an impurity constitutes a kind of intellectual incoherence is to miss the point, or to make an entirely irrelevant point about something else. Nothing could be more antithetical to Said than attempts to find a pure doctrine within his work. With hindsight, having come to witness Saids propensity for exile from filial tradition, we can dismiss Cliffords concerns: Said was not a man who was going to come in from the cold, and thats the point. But, with fairness to Clifford, when Orientalism was published, those tendencies in Said were not yet so clear. And how could they be? Said had not yet completed his invention of the travelling postcolonial critic, or the secular intellectual as he would in Representations of the Intellectual (Said, 1994). Amateurism and the affiliative method were new in the academy. Leading on from their defence of Saids partial use of Foucault, Ashcroft and Ahluwalia offer a further illustration and reinforcement of the innocent amateurism of Saids own work which is demonstrative of the kind of secular intellectual, affiliative practice which he advocates. Commenting on the impossibility of pigeonholing Said, Ashcroft and Ahluwalia remark that:
When we look closely at Saids work, we find that it is difficult to connect him to any particular theoretical ism, such as post-structuralism or post-colonialism, because his own work continually resists such partisanship. His theory is opposed deeply to any kind of dogmatic (or as he calls it, theological) party line, but he is concerned to criticise issues as they arise. Thus Said cannot be placed easily in a school or movement and his own theory appears to operate in a way in which he thinks public intellectuals should locate themselves in contemporary society. (Ashcroft & Ahluwalia, 1999, p. 23)

At the heart of the utility and the methodology of affiliative amateurism, then, is a principle which we find demonstrated at the centre of Saids own work: a resistance to partisanship and dogma or purity, and the judicious, hybridising and transformative insistence on taking only what is required. Said builds on Foucault to an extent he is Foucauldian, but the humanism of his position is irreconcilable with French poststructuralism. He is indebted to Gramsci, but he is clearly not a neo-Marxist in any real sense. These are simple facts facts of proficient exile that are quite at odds with any attempt to contain Saids scholarly work within an academic area or discipline.

Discursive hegemony As an analysis of the dynamic between discourse, knowledge and power, Saids work opened up the field of colonial discourse analysis as a rich political exhibition of the modalities of discursive and manifest power. Saids work on orientalism follows Foucault in its consideration of discourse. Said adheres to a Foucauldian concept of discourse as a kind of textuality wherein the text, in the form of any interpersonal transmission of knowledge, has cultural dimensions of meaning which are surplus to those intended by the author. For Said, a cumulative, textual and self-citational way of knowing contains all of the dimensions of representation and marginalisation which define and prejudice our common sense, and which privilege the hegemonic status quo. These representations and prejudices are manifested in language as


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constituent parts of a discourse of privilege and marginalisation, and of knowledge and power. For Said, as a system of representing and building reality, discourse produces an imagination of the real, an identity of the self, and a community to identify with. As colonising technologies of knowledge, discursive representations are organically passed from person to person and generation to generation until they accumulate to become what is taken as the truth. This is where Said relaxes his embrace of Foucault and argues that a dominant body of community knowledge, or discursive truth, is a cultural hegemony with material effects. Said uses a marriage of Foucault to Gramsci in his investigation of the narratives of identity. He suggests that hegemony is formed discursively that a Gramscian hegemony of knowing, a cultural way of life, or a community of consensus and common sense, is established discursively, or textually, in a manner which can be understood in terms of Foucault. As formative agents of a Gramscian consensual hegemony, Said views textuality and discourse in a Foucauldian sense, as colonising technologies of knowledge and power. An idea of false consciousness demonstrates a traditional Marxist analysis of how a form of cultural hegemony can be formed by coercion, but using a Gramscian concept of hegemony or a Saidian concept of discursive hegemony provides access to an illustration of a much more powerful and complex formation by consent. Such a formation is less conspiratorial and top-down than the idea of a coercive construction, and shows how we are all entwined in the processes of reflecting and directing discourse and hegemony, even those who would seek to coerce. But is this invocation of antifoundational humanism, and this amateur mashing of theory of Foucault and Gramsci intellectually valid? Is a toolbox approach to Foucault defensible or useful? Raymond Williams says this of consensual hegemony:
It is Gramscis great contribution to have emphasized hegemony, and also to have understood it at a depth which is, I think, rare. For hegemony supposes the existence of something which is truly total, which is not merely secondary or superstructural, like the weak sense of ideology, but which is lived at such a depth, which saturates the society to such an extent, and which, as Gramsci put it, even constitutes the substance and limit of common sense for most people under its sway, that it corresponds to the reality of social experience very much more clearly than any notions derived from the formula of false consciousness. For if ideology were merely some abstract, imposed set of notions, if our social and political and cultural ideas and assumptions and habits were merely the result of specific manipulation, of a kind of overt training which might simply be ended or withdrawn, then the society would be very much easier to move and to change than in practice it has ever been or is. This notion of hegemony as deeply saturating the consciousness of a society seems to me to be fundamental. (Williams, 1973, p. 8)

Williams characterises hegemony as a deep saturation and, indeed, the common sense surrounding our sense of self and the identities and categories which we employ to apprehend the world is deeply saturating. If one thinks of hegemony in a democratic way, such that it is the common sense of civil society (the consensus of micro senses) and the power and discourse of democracy, then despite a certain intellectual vulgarity a Foucauldian notion of power and a Gramscian sense of hegemony become reconcilable as different articulations of the same sense of deep saturation: hegemony is perpetuated by and contains the logic of the discursive content of the micro relations and interactions which underpin a Foucauldian sense of power. There is, nonetheless, a distinction here which is critical, and which would

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make a use of the concept of hegemony more applicable than a strict adherence to Foucauldian scholarship to someone like Said. Williams puts this best. He says:
. . . hegemony has the advantage over general notions of totality, that it at the same time emphasizes the facts of domination. (Williams, 1973, p. 37)

It is arguable that this is a dubious claim understood as totally saturating, hegemony is as totalising as any notion of power, and properly so: to presuppose a prince who stands outside of the constraints of culture is to presuppose a genuinely material Cartesian separation which presumably cannot obtain. Nonetheless, Williams has a point, if only a semantic one or one of evocative traditionalism the word hegemony does moor the reader to a tradition of resistance as opposed to an acquiescent acceptance of inevitable and unassailable power. Whereas power (as a theory) can be charged as implicit in the forgoing quote by Williams with a tendency towards a postmodern/poststructural sense of ennui, hegemony (as a theory) demands to be understood as a conceptual artefact of resistance, if only by virtue of its neo-Marxist associations. Whilst hegemony should be understood as deep, saturating, totalising and powerful, as much as it should reinforce a tradition of resistance, the use of Gramsci that sense of resistance is helpful in endowing Saids work with it political agency, and in overcoming what Young describes as the denial of a dominance/subversion paradigm (Young, 1995, p. 5), which aligns with a denial of the focus on materiality in Saids work and the general corpus of postcolonial thinking. The intersections of discourse and hegemony, of hegemony and power, and of Gramsci and Foucault, do reinforce the saturation which Williams refers to, and they also underscore the validity of Saids introduction of each theorist to the other. Said is not alone in his consideration of the discursive dimensions of hegemony though. To support the sense of deep saturation to which Williams points, it is useful to make at least a passing allusion to Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (1985), who implicitly reinforce the Saidian marriage in their work, and who are pre-eminent in elaborating on Gramsci in a fashion which articulates the saturating quality of hegemony. Carlos Pessoa picks up on this in a succinct, relevant and critically important way, using the notion of deep saturation available from Laclau and Mouffes work to counter debates which favour a concept of posthegemony. He says:
[Posthegemony] seems to associate hegemony solely with ideology . . . The theory of hegemony is about how a social element can discursively transform its particular social boundaries into the boundary of the community. Ideology here merely plays a role in such construction, especially in the demonization of a socially excluded entity that formalises the outer political boundaries of hegemonic discourse. Equally, it should be understood from the theoretical elaboration of Laclau and Mouffe (1985) that the concept of hegemony incorporates a notion of discourse that transcends the distinction between linguistic and extra-linguistic meaning intrinsically associated with ideology. (Pessoa, 2003, pp. 486487)

Of those theorists who are critical of an extrapolated, fully saturating concept of hegemony, Stuart Hall is pre-eminent, critiquing the diffuse and uprooted concept of power which the micro architecture of discourse describes. Hall is directly critical


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of Laclau and Mouffes discursive concept of hegemony, and implicitly posits a theoretical disjuncture between the potential for deploying Foucault and the potential for deploying Gramsci (Hall, 1988). For Hall, there remains a princely site of power the state. It is this adherence to a reading of Gramsci, which falls on the side of an attraction towards remnants of traditional Marxist thinking, which leads Brennon Wood to comment that:
I believe that Halls argument against discursive dissolution reveals an important source of his ambiguous commitment to a state-centred view of politics. (Wood, 1998, p. 404)

In contrast, Laclau and Mouffe champion a dissolved, discursive reading of hegemony (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985). Wood argues that the discursive dispersal of power across multiple sites which Laclau and Mouffe describe is akin to a fracturing which superimposes naturally on Halls reading of identity as fractured, multiple and incomplete, citing the lack of superimposition (or desire to superimpose) by Hall as a point for critique in Halls logic (Wood, 1998, p. 405). Wood characterises Halls stance or Halls own particular quest to re-centre materiality as one which eschews the notion that hegemony is formed discursively, subverting this formulation such as to indicate that discourse is contained and controlled by a hegemonic prince. This is an extrapolation of the logic of false consciousness. It is at odds with Williams notion of deep saturation, but it does have a political edge in terms of reinscribing the imperative of resistance. It succeeds in that reinscription through suggesting that there is a tangible object to resist against. This is why the concept of hegemony resonates for a politically engaged thinker like Hall or Said. There is both a similarity and a disjuncture between Saids use of hegemony and Halls use of hegemony here. Both preserve a sense of resistance and materiality, but Said moves towards a reading of hegemony which is more easily reconciled with a Foucauldian concept of discourse and power than a Marxist concept of false consciousness. Said achieves a reconciliation between a totalising reading of power and a potential for resistance through an enabling logic of amateurism which demonstrates the effective nuances of a mashing, toolbox approach to theory. The way in which Said frames the practice of his model of the secular intellectual and a rationale for secular criticism, and so the way that Said frames a methodology of amateurism, and how such a framework and field of concepts relates to and is embedded within the broader corpus and thrust of his work, is by an appeal to a simple injunction. It is an injunction which is rich with and resonant of a vigorous and artefactual agency, or sense of resistance. As one of the chapter headings of Representations of the Intellectual (1994) puts it, it is the simple injunction to attend to the business of speaking the truth to power. The formula of amateurism, at its simplest then, revolves around the nature of the relationship between the agent and power. It is about the elevation of an affiliative, horizontal speech and appropriation over a filial sense of vertical accountability. It is about eschewing an accountability upwards, in favour of a democratic accountability outwards. It is through this sense of responsibility to the margins, the excised and the excluded, that Saids work grafts itself to the kind of responsibility to community which reacts to the material structures of power. That affiliation creates a kind of artefactual network of complex and transformative

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interactions. For Said, the affiliative method casts a diffuse web of resistance akin to the negative image of power, and it defies a clean adherence to fixable genealogies, in a way which seems to be fundamentally drawn from Foucauldian analysis. If Foucault makes us question the nature of order and the ordering of nature, or the relationship between knowledge and the real, then there exists in his work a fundamental link between the orderer, their disciplines, and power. In his work on transdisciplinarity, Ananta Kumar Giri makes some succinct comments on the concept of disciplines. He says:
Academic disciplines provide not only a cultural frame to us but also social identity and locations in the institution of knowledge. Academic disciplines not only help us classify the world but also classify ourselves. And both of these functions and objectives are fulfilled by the erection of rigid boundaries among them. (Giri, 1998, p. 380)

Following a Foucauldian connection between the ordering of knowledge and power, a critique of what Giri goes on to call the rigidification of boundaries (1998, p. 382), or specialization and monopoly (1998, p. 382), or a modern academic division of labour (1998, p. 382), not only connects us to a wholesale postmodern critique of the modern enterprise, but also to the tools of poststructuralism which Foucault affords us, or to the toolbox of poststructuralism. It is in picking up that toolbox and transcending canonical and disciplinary boundaries that Saids affiliative amateurism represents a resistance to power which Foucaults work on discourse and knowledge provokes. Discipline as a Foucauldian double entendre demarcates knowledge via a process of professional and genealogical apartheid, and it is through a model of discursive, theoretical and filial apartheid that we can conceptualise power. Resistance, by that analysis, is precisely the business of what Clifford would call methodological catholicity.

Conclusion Saids discourse analysis his use of Foucault reminds us of the way in which discourse underpins the logic of separation which demarcates and differentiates one ontological category from another. The same processes of ontological demarcation obtain in the construction of filial disciplines, and Saids advocacy of an affiliative method constitutes a resistance to those kind of technologies of demarcation and hierarchy. Saids marriage of Foucault and Gramsci as a marriage of necessity and convenience is a perfect demonstration of the kind of transgressive, affiliative theoretical approach which Said employs, in a way which embeds Foucault within Said at the level of practice and at a higher level of theoretical abstraction which befits the oeuvre of Foucault. As Said says:
Even if we wish to contest Foucaults findings about the exclusions by European culture of what it constituted as insane or irrational . . . we cannot fail to be convinced that the dialectic of self-fortification and self-confirmation by which culture achieves its hegemony over society and the state is based on a constantly practised differentiation of itself from what it believes to be not itself. And this differentiation is frequently performed by setting the valorized culture over the Other. (Said, 1983, p. 12)


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It is through an act of resisting those binaries that Foucauldian analysis and Saidian critique come together, and it is through an amateuristic, genealogically unfixable and postcolonial approach to theory that Said connects the richness and the depth of Foucaults thinking to an imperative of emancipation and resistance more usually associated with Marxism than poststructuralism. References
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