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The Politics of Anonymity: Foucault, Feminism, and Gender Non-conforming Prisoners

The Politics of Anonymity: Foucault, Feminism, and Gender Non-conforming Prisoners Perry Zurn Throughout the late twentieth century, a number of post-structuralist thinkers put out a relatively sustained call for the practice of anonymity. The idea here was to escape the confines of identity, resist the restraints of administrative bureaucracy, and to become someone new or think something else entirely. Over the years, this call has been thoroughly critiqued by feminists, critical race theorists, and others committed to a politics of difference.1 From their perspective, the call to anonymity belies the intense privilege of those unfamiliar with the inescapable visibility, coupled with deep ignorance, so well known to marginalized people. Michel Foucault is one of these espousers of anonymity. It is my aim in this essay, however, to complicate his account, showing lines of connection or sympathy with a politics of difference. I do so by analyzing his involvement in a 1970s activist cell called the Prisons Information Group. The Prisons Information Group (Le Groupe d'information sur les prisons, the GIP) aimed to "give [prisoners] the floor," thereby publicizing information about the prison from within it. The GIP utilized anonymity as a tactic of resistance against institutionalized forms of naming. But they equally used naming as a tactical resistance http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png philoSOPHIA suny_press

The Politics of Anonymity: Foucault, Feminism, and Gender Non-conforming Prisoners

philoSOPHIA , Volume 6 (1) – Aug 6, 2016

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State University of New York Press
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Copyright © State University of New York Press
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2155-0905
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Abstract

Perry Zurn Throughout the late twentieth century, a number of post-structuralist thinkers put out a relatively sustained call for the practice of anonymity. The idea here was to escape the confines of identity, resist the restraints of administrative bureaucracy, and to become someone new or think something else entirely. Over the years, this call has been thoroughly critiqued by feminists, critical race theorists, and others committed to a politics of difference.1 From their perspective, the call to anonymity belies the intense privilege of those unfamiliar with the inescapable visibility, coupled with deep ignorance, so well known to marginalized people. Michel Foucault is one of these espousers of anonymity. It is my aim in this essay, however, to complicate his account, showing lines of connection or sympathy with a politics of difference. I do so by analyzing his involvement in a 1970s activist cell called the Prisons Information Group. The Prisons Information Group (Le Groupe d'information sur les prisons, the GIP) aimed to "give [prisoners] the floor," thereby publicizing information about the prison from within it. The GIP utilized anonymity as a tactic of resistance against institutionalized forms of naming. But they equally used naming as a tactical resistance

Journal

philoSOPHIAsuny_press

Published: Aug 6, 2016

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