This essay considers the possibilities of an embodied archive of political agitation through an expanded notion of gesture. It weaves a set of infrequently attested relations in productive comparison: the political gestures of resistance, the embodiment of disability, the expansion of medicalization and of discourses of security in a time of crisis, and racial gesture. After an introduction to the scope and contingencies of the various forms of “agitation” considered, it considers the uses of agitation for contemporary medicine and asks for an expansion beyond narrow readings of intention, expression, and responsibility. To do so, the essay visits Bergson’s Laughter, to probe at questions of comedy reliant on the machinic, on the fresh impression, and on particular temporalities of being versus expression. Finally, a number of specific cases of police violence are considered, not only for their gestural economies, but also for the informed conjunctures by which harmed people have lived.
Mel Y. Chen; Agitation. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2018; 117 (3): 551–566. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-6942147
Download citation file: