Transnational Dispositive Analysis? Cross-Cultural Limitations of Post-Foucauldian Methodology

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Magdalena A. NOWICKA, University of Lodz, Poland
The aim of this paper is critical reflection on how Michel Foucault’s concepts of discourse and dispositive work in different political and cultural settings. For Foucault (1981: 52) order of discourse means “that in every society the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organised and redistributed by a certain number of procedures.” The application of Foucauldian perspective in discourse research carried out in the context of global diversity challenges, however, the assumption that the procedures of rarefaction of discourse are universal and transnational on the meta-level of scientific communication. We tend to forget that Foucauldian model of knowledge production and his method of an analysis of power derive from Western European lines of thinking and are deeply embedded in particular tradition of critical reasoning. Incorporation of Foucault’s concepts to analyzing discourse within e.g. post-communist democracies in Eastern Europe, post-colonial societies all over the world or emancipatory movements emerging in non-Western dictatorships, entails cultural and geopolitical translation of this methodology.

The question of the cultural specificity of Foucault’s concepts particularly concerns today an approach of post-Foucauldian dispositive analysis. As an analytical category dispositive refers to a heterogenic composition of discursive and non-discursive elements of social reality, producing knowledge and linked together with dynamic relations of power which can be studied empirically on the basis of discursive and non-discursive data. In the historical perspective, dispositive always responds to a certain form of power/knowledge emerging within the Western heuristic models of government. Consequently, globalizing of the concept of dispositive can be discussed as traveling theory (in Edward W. Said’s terms) entangled in the process of translation and hybridization of its meaning. This consideration of cross-cultural and transnational inconsistencies and deficiencies of this methodological approach is illustrated with chosen examples of empirical research done in various political and epistemic arenas.