This essay examines the relevance of the concept of biopower and its four seminal figures (the hysterical woman, the Malthusian couple, the masturbating child, and the perverse adult) to our understanding of current formations of late liberal power. Through the example of a far north Australian creek’s attempt to persist in being, this essay argues that new figures and tactics of geontological power are displacing prior biopower ones. It further argues that this displacement demands a radical questioning of queer modes of critical thought.
Transgender Creeks and the Three Figures of Power in Late Liberalism
elizabeth a. povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University. Her research and writing is a critical reflection of the conditions of power in late liberalism. Her writings include The Economies of Abandonment (2011), The Empire of Love (2006), and The Cunning of Recognition (2002), all published with Duke University Press. She is also the director of two short films: When the Dogs Talked (2014), as part of Karrabing Film Collective, and Karrabing: Low Tide Turning (2012), codirected with Liza Johnson.