Final Abstract: Foucault, Limit Experience, and the Periphery

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In my final paper, I will be focusing on Foucault's analysis of limit experience.  For this abstract, limit experience can be thought of as the periphery of society and their experience with apparatus of power: the insane and institution, the criminal and penitentiary, the pupil and school, the patient and hospital. . .   I will begin with a critique of Foucault's theory of limited experience, which was formulated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.  Spivak's basic critique of Foucault is that he claims to speak for the subalterns or periphery.  Affirming Foucault's position, I will argue that Spivak is incorrect in her characterization of Foucault's understanding and intention of limit experience.  That is, I will argue that Foucault's analysis of society portrays all of us in varying degrees and intensities as being subjugated.  For Foucault, limit experience emerges from the subjugated confronting a power apparatus (typically whatever apparatus they are subject to i.e. criminal to the justice system).  Furthermore, Foucault believes a limit experience is confined to just those subjected to that experience with the particular power apparatus.  This will be the crux of my disagreement with Spivak: Foucault does not claim to speak for the periphery.  Rather he tries to demonstrate the manifestation of limit experience within different corners of our society and how differing manifestations clarify social norms in a particular time and place.


 Discipline and Punish

"Live of Infamous Men" Essential Foucault

"Interview" (with Foucault) Power Vol. 3 (this is the same "Interview" on the syllabus)

"The Subject and Power" Essential Foucault

Can the Subaltern Speak?

Intellectuals and Power

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