[dance-tech] Post-structuralist Threads1: Postcolonial

  • From: "Jaime del Val" <jaimedelval@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2008 17:56:54 +0200

Hi Matt, Harmony, Jeannette, Johannes and others,

Id like to link our conversation on postcolonial, with the brief comments by 
Jeannette and Johannes on Postbody, postself and posthuman, since they conform 
related fields of thought.


I invite you to the discussion group I am about to open in dance-tech.net, 
under the name Technologies of the Body, for those interested on these matters, 
and to the new Blog of the International Workshop of the Technologies of the 
Body, which will also be a bilingual forum for the discussions, though mainly 
in Spanish for now. I will announce these soon. Sorry for the lengthy post, 
i'll send it in three or four parts...


Harmony's comment was indeed good, it is important to be aware of these shifts 
of register to avoid misunderstandings. I will now give a few definitions of 
some of the vocabulary we are using, since the words happen to be part of well 
established academic domains, but when there is no knowledge of this then 
others who ignore this might take the terms for obscure poetics, as often 
happens. Then I will briefly comment on how I relate to the terms in my work.


Starting with Matt's questions on colonialism, my approach to the term is 
related to the well established field of POSTCOLONIAL STUDIES, for which it 
would take too long to give an introduction, nevertheless, the field attempts 
to frame the ways in which empires have produced notions of otherness in order 
to institute themselves as centres of power, and its agents as sovereign 
subjects, as one can see in such well known foundational essays as Edward 
Said's "Orientalism". To a certain extent colonial power does mean, white, 
male, heterosexual, middle-upper class, central European or North American. The 
academy itself, and production of knowledge in general is one of the essential 
mechanisms of the colonial system. 


This does not mean that all work produced in the academy is only an instrument 
of hegemonic power structures, since in the academy we find such OPPOSITIONAL 
PRACTICES as the ones I will be mentioning here, namely: cultural studies, 
postcolonial-, queer-, and different braches related to feminism, to name but a 
few of the braches that we can frame as related to POSTSTRUCTURALIST thinking, 
(largely developed in US and Britain academy, from French Philosophy -Foucault, 
Derrida, Deleuze...- in a tradition that goes back to Nietzsche, Heidegger or 
Postmarxism, to name a few); and which deal with the questioning of all these 
extraordinary structures that the academy has produced at all levels of 
knowledge, relating to structuralist modernist thinking and which turn out to 
be contingent, and instrumental to power regimes.


Identification with other voices and perspectives implies first of all the 
acknowledgment of the very contingent and reduced nature of any perspective, 
starting with one's own. It doesn't have to go beyond that but it is good if it 
gets so far: any perspective especially those that are presented to us under 
the pompous scenarios of  absolute truths, are contingent and relative to the 
context in which they were conceived, and whenever they are exclusive they are 
instruments of power. 


Any notion of universal perspective is a fiction of an empire, since 
universality is not possible in a universe that is contingent, constituted of 
multiple localities in relation, for which no single all-inclusive perspective 
can ever be designed, since the local interactions (whether between galaxies or 
biological bodies) constitute again and again new forms (of thinking, 
experience, etc), in what I call a metaformative process and we cannot even 
know which and how many perspectives here and now we don't know of can't even 
imagine altogether (in fact we can never imagine more than a infintesimal part 
of the possible forms and perspectives).


This doesn't undermine the possibilities for cultural practise, which doesn't 
per se necessitate to be based upon universal assumptions, exclusion or 
violence. What a cultural practice needs is a local context of interactions, 
and this is what we all produce as bodies in interaction, whether at smaller or 
large scales. Our cultural background matters immensely, and we cannot but have 
one, it is our contingency, our relative context, it is all we have, and we 
must have it. I only speak against fictions of universality that work as 
instrument of power and exclusion, not against cultural and academic practice 


 next post: posthuman

all best


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