One of the most pressing challenges to Foucault's notion of the self and disciplinary power concerns the issue of resistance. If, as Foucault argues, the self is wholly constituted by disciplinary power and practices, then what possibility exists for resistance to such power and practices? While this is a difficult challenge, Foucault insists that resistance is part and parcel with the happening of disciplinary power. In order to illuminate Foucault's observations about resistance I turn to Kafka' letters and diaries. I contend that Kafka wrote as a way of resisting the influence of disciplinary power and practices. Kafka wrote in order to do battle with the forces he found himself constituted by, and in the process, redefine the field of battle, and re-describe the terms and discourse in which the battle was fought. Kafka wrote, and struggled to write, as a way of resisting the domination of disciplinary power operating on him. I contend that Kafka might have been aware, like Foucault, that there was no final victory, no heroic escape or triumph from the battle. Therefore, Kafka wrote not to overcome the battle, but rather as the only legitimate response to the forces of 'isciplinary (sic) power. Writing was Kafka's way of struggling valiantly.The full text is not available on SSRN.
November 8, 2010
Kafka, Foucault, and Writing as Resistance
Nicholas Dungey has published Franz Kafka and Michele Foucault: Writing as Resistance as a Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Here is the abstract.