Michel Foucault’s shift to “biopower” away from his earlier conception of power as a form of constraint from which there is no clear path to liberation is the subject of the essays in this issue. In the context of this shift, these essays address from fresh perspectives Foucault’s articulation of the “fear” underlying the loss of human autonomy as a political problem, including the ways in which Foucault’s efforts to theorize resistance and the refusal of normative structures of social organization are still forceful or remain inadequate. Many of these authors are concerned with the political praxis that might enable us to move beyond the limits of our discourse—or the articulation of what particular agency we have beyond unmasking fear as a political problem with serious consequences. Indeed, such concerns align these authors with a more general effort to think agency and historical change in the context of postfoundationalism—of the challenge to yoke a commitment to the dispersal, fragmentation, and diffusion of knowledge to a vision of radical democracy that can no longer rely on normative concepts of universalism and individualism.
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Carolyn J. Dean; Afterword: The Agency of Sex: Volition after Foucault. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2012; 111 (3): 549–562. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-1596272
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