Race and Education of Desire Foucault’s history of sexuality and the colonial order of things By Ann Laura Stoler Seminar Presentation, Space, Gender and Sexuality By Shushan Harutyunyan October 31, 2012, CEU
Ann Laura Stoler Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at The New School for Social Research in New York since 2004. She has worked for some thirty years on colonial governance, racial epistemologies, and the sexual politics of empire. Her books include: Capitalism and Confrontation in Sumatra’s Plantation Belt, l870-1979 (Yale1985), Race and the Education of Desire (Duke 1995), Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power (California 2002), Along the Archival Grain (Princeton 2009), and the edited volumes, Tensions of Empire, with Frederick Cooper (California, 1997), Haunted by Empire (Duke 2006), Imperial Formations, with Carole McGranahan and Peter Perdue (SAR 2007) and Imperial Debris: On RuinsSource of the photo and the information - City University of and Ruination (Duke, forthcoming). She is a founding co-Hong Kong , International Advisory Board . More info canbe found here as well editor of the online journalPolitical Concepts: A Criticalhttp://www.newschool.edu/nssr/faculty.aspx?id=10416 Lexicon.
Race and Education of Desire Bringing a new set of questions to Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Ann Laura Stoler examines why there has been such a muted engagement with this work among students of colonialism for whom issues of sexuality and power are so essential. Why is the colonial context absent from Foucault’s history of a European sexual discourse that for him defined the bourgeois self? In Race and the Education of Desire, Stoler challenges Foucault’s tunnel vision of the West and his marginalization of empire. She also argues that this first volume of History of Sexuality contains a suggestive if not studied treatment of race. Drawing on Foucault’s little-known 1976 College de France lectures, Stoler addresses his treatment of the relationship between biopower, bourgeois sexuality, and what he identified as “racisms of the state.” In this critical and historically grounded analysis based on cultural theory and her own extensive research in Dutch and French colonial archives, Stoler suggests how Foucault’s insights have in the pastSource of the summary - Duke University constrained—and in the future may help shape—the ways we trace the Press; http://www.dukeupress.edu/ genealogies of race.
Rethinking the distinctions of sexuality The emphases on the body should undoubtedly linked to the process of growth and establishment of bourgeois hegemony, not, however, because of the market value assumed by labor capacity, but because of what the cultivation of its own body could represent politically, economically, and historically for the present and the future of the bourgeoisie. Its dominance was in part dependent on that cultivation… (HS: 125) The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
Cultivating bourgeois bodies and racial selves Stoler argues that a discourse of races (if not modern racism itself) antedates nineteenth century social taxonomies, appearing not as result of bourgeois orderings, but as constitutive of them. Stoler suggests to use Foucault’s texts to think about a specific range of colonial issues, and, in turn, what these colonial contexts afford for rethinking how European bourgeois culture recounted the distinctions of sexuality. Her starting point is not the hegemony of imperial systems of control, but their precarious vulnerabilities.
Rethinking Colonialism as s Bourgeois Project What constituted European identities in the colonies and the problematic political semantics of “Whiteness”? Colonialism was not only about the importation of middle-class sensibilities to the colonies, but about the making of them. Should we evidence of the “contingency” to be submerged presence of radically charged colonial image in the European bourgeois novel or the studied absence of them? Were European bourgeois norms developed in contrast to phantom colonized Other, and can we think about common European bourgeois imaginings of empire at all?
Colonial Oxymorons: On Bourgeois Civility and Racial Categories If there is anything shared among historians about the nature of French, Dutch, and British colonial communities, it is assumed the fact that they were largely people from “bourgeois aristocracy” (who saw their privileges and profits as racially bestowed). But it is even self-evident that middle class respectabilities and membership in European communities actually were. Anxiety debated who was truly European and whether those who were both poor and white should be included among them.
Identity making and self-affirmationThe increasing attention given to moral “upbringing” as a prerequisite for theproper use of a formal education turned on a basic assumption: that is wasthe domestic domain, not the public sphere where essential dispositions ofmanliness, bourgeois morality, and radical attribute could be dangerouslyundone or securely made.Europeanness was not onlyclass-specific but gendercoded. A European mancould live with or marry anAsian woman withoutnecessarily losing rank, butthis was never true forEuropean woman whomight make a similar choicein life to marry non-European. “Free Women of Color with their Children and Servants in a Landscape” (ca. 1764- 1796), The Brooklyn Museum
Personal Self-discipline and collective moral controlCitizenship categoricallyexcluded “allwomen, minors, madpersons, beggars, prisonersand dishonored… and allpersons who did not have fulluse of their teenth centuryshow that new directives foreducation and the domesticenvironment of childrenrepresented pointed attacks bya “burgerlike middenklasse” onthe social hierarchies ofFrance and the Netherland’sregimes, that such reformswere part of the identity The Women of Algiers Eugene Delacroix, 1834formation of the middle classitself.
Race of Class The bourgeois was, if not a different species, then at least the member of a superior race and higher stage in human evolution, distinct from the lower orders who remained in the historical or cultural equivalent of childhood or adolescences. Race was interpreted as a rhetorical political strategy. Brunias, "Negroes Dance in the Island of Dominica (or St. Kitts)
Sexuality, race and the bourgeois politics of exclusion Family provides the natural foundations for civil life. Women’s rights are restricted by the argument that motherhood is believed to be “national service”. Rights of women and children solely dependant on their sexual and conjugal contracts with men. Mrs. Elizabeth Freake and Baby Mary, late 17th century, ANONYMOUS ARTIST