The will sits at the heart of everyday life for billions of people. Religious revival, democratization, and economic restructuring, to name but a few worldwide processes, routinely invoke the will of the people and the will of God while promoting will-full living. The introduction to this special issue develops a critical analytic that is politically unwilling. To “politically un-will” something is to disassemble, or perhaps problematize, the willful assumptions that undergird politics today. This is a deconstructive project. Ethnographic and archival work that foregrounds the will as an object of study can better understand the will’s centrality to both everyday life and structural political processes. At the same time, the project of “politically unwilling” also documents a set of political or, rather, antipolitical effects. To find something politically unwilling in this sense is to highlight the ways that, as a technology of self, certain configurations of the will are themselves unwilling to be understood as political.
Introduction|September 01 2014