Taking Refuge: An Introduction
Various thinkers working in the poststructuralist tradition have explored how
the disciplinary structure of knowledge is itself one of the contingencies that
condition any claim to know. In
Discipline and Punish,
Michel Foucault dis-
cusses disciplinarity in two registers: as a host of increasingly specified practices
that discipline the body in the school, the military, and the penitentiary, and
as the disciplines of knowledge known as the human and social sciences. For
Foucault, these registers are linked in the broad transformation of the Western
episteme from the classical age (the Enlightenment) to the modern, and pivot
around the rise of the human being as the new object of "his" own investiga-
tion. In chapter
I will discuss these epistemic divisions more fully, especially
in the context of understanding their relationship to race and gender as corpo-
real technologies. Also see Foucault's
The Order of Things
The Birth of the
For a critical assessment of the implications of Foucault's conversation
about disciplinarityon contemporary organizations of knowledge, see Jonathan
Arac, ed.,
After Foucault.
It should be noted that Foucault's critiques of methodology and the disci-
plinary organization of both knowledge and the social body are not without
their own methodological investments, assumptions, and practices. For criti-
cal discussion of Foucault's own methodological entrapment, see Nancy Fraser,
Unruly Practices
17-66; Jurgen Habermas, "Taking Aim at the Heart of the
Present:' "The Critique of Reason as an Unmasking of the Human Sciences,"
and "Some Questions Concerning the Theory of Power"; Rosemary Hennessy,
Materialist Feminism and the Politics of Discourse
38-46; David Couzens Hoy,
"Introduction" and "Power, Repression, Progress"; Richard Rorty, "Foucault
and Epistemology"; G. S. Rousseau, "Foucault and Enlightenment"; Gayatri
Chakravorty Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?"; Charles Taylor, "Foucault on
Freedom and Truth"; and Michael Walzer, "The Politics of Michel Foucault."
For a broader introduction to the way poststructuralist theorists have affected
questions of disciplinary study, see Robert Young's
White Mythologies.
In this and other ways,
American Anatomies
evinces an affinity to the critical
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