Wednesday 13 June 2012

The Archipelago Empire of Poststructuralism (The Beginnings of a Polemic)

The once vibrant and invigorating spirit of poststructuralism has ossified under the force of its own oscillations; flung to the 'margins' so far and so often, it has hardened into a dogma as sedimented and inflexible as any foundations that it once shook.  Indeed, the 'margins' once occupied by self-declared 'dissidents' no longer exist.  Today there are simply mainland empires and archipelago empires.

The cog-grinding, smog-belching industrial monolith of the positivist mainstream is as imperious, self-certain and xenophobic as ever; yet, fringing the shore, harboured on islets, cays and atolls, Lilliputian hegemons rule with fists no less iron than the grand girder-smelters of the mainland.  The poststructuralist’s archipelago empire can lay claim to no sprawling plains or ragged mountain ranges but within their own jurisdictions – certain journals, particular departments, chosen conferences and prescriptive seminars – their place is established, safe, proud, grey, boring, unquestioning, self-assured and fecund as dust.

The deterritorialisers have become territorialised.

The margins mirror the mainstream in miniature.

What once shook needs shaking.