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Tung-Hui Hu
(A Prehistory of the Cloud 2015)

In A Prehistory of the Cloud, Hu provides us with a new way to think about the digital environments we interact with everyday. He traces the development of "the cloud" which was formed on top of older networks such as railroad tracks and television lines. Hu explains that you have to consider both the material objects that constitute what we know of as the cloud as well as its cultural representations and understandings. In order to analyze the cloud, you have to take into account both its virtuality and its materiality. Hu's main argument is that the cloud is the new way that political power is exerted over our society, which is evidenced by the fact that the infrastructure of the cloud is built on top of military sites and technologies.  

Important Terms

Sovereignty of Data: when the cloud layers the control exerted by digital technologies upon pre-existing structures of power in the same way that fiber-optic cable networks were added on top of existing railroad tracks; a framework that describes the different ways sovereign power uses data-centric tools.

  • "the sovereignty of data comes out of the way we invest the cloud’s technology with cultural fantasies about security and participation. These fantasies may be as simple as the idea that the cloud will protect our data from unsafe, 'unfree' hackers; that data needs to be secured from disaster; or even that the cloud is a unique medium for user interaction" (Kindle Locations 214-216).

  • "The sovereignty of data may manifest itself primarily through targeted advertisements, and through the bloodless forms of control and governmentality typically described by new media scholars, but occasionally appears as a targeted killing" (Kindle Locations 2656-2658).

  • "the sovereignty of data is activated by our desire; we supply the data, the free labor, and the participation. Yet it seems easier to “fight back” with technological tools because the cloud produces users rather than publics, and therefore individual rather than collective action" (Kindle Locations 3305-3308).

The Cloud: a system of networks that combines and distributes computing power.​

  • "The cloud is both an idea and a physical and material object, and the more one learns about it, the more one realizes just how fragile it is" (Kindle Locations 75-77). 

  • "By producing a seemingly instant, unmediated relationship between user and website, our imagination of a virtual “cloud” displaces the infrastructure of labor within digital networks" (Kindle Locations 114-116).

  • "it is clear that the cloud, as an idea, has exceeded its technological platform and become a potent metaphor for the way contemporary society organizes and understands itself" (Kindle Locations 129-130).

Walter Mignolo
(The Darker Side of Western Modernity 2011)

In The Darker Side of Western Modernity, Mignolo argues that modernity, a complex narrative originating in Europe, created Western civilization by praising its achievements and hiding coloniality—modernity's "dark" side. Basically, modernity wouldn't exist without coloniality. Coloniality in this argument is a complex matrix of power created and controlled by Western european men as well as Western institutions. Mignolo also asserts that there are forces working to dismantle this coloniality including decoloniality and dewesternization. The book critiques Western epistemological practices and presents a new, decolonial way of thinking. 

Important Terms

Coloniality: The logic which is foundational to Western civilization and results from a history of colonialism and colonization by Europeans. 

  • "Coloniality names the underlying logic of the foundation and unfolding of Western civilization from the Renaissance to today of which historical colonialisms have been a constitutive, although downplayed, dimension" (2).

  • "Thus the '/' between modernity/(de)coloniality is the site, as I said and will repeat, where modernity/coloniality unite and divide, where imperial and colonial differences dwell, where decoloniality and dewesternization emerge, where spiritual options flourish" (90).

  • "The 'where' is not just a geographical location, but geopolitical in the sense of how imperially made regions, beyond 'natural environment,' shape and conform people dwelling in that region. It is not, of course, the physical space of the region that counts, but the place that the region and its inhabitants occupy in a global order of coloniality" (117).

Colonial Matrix of Power: The hidden power structure within Western civilization that manages and controls the economy, knowledge production, and political authority. We exist within the colonial matrix of power, and it is foundational to our way of understanding the world. 

  • "In its original formulation by Quijano, the 'patrón colonial de poder' (colonial matrix of power) was described as four interrelated domains: control of the economy, of authority, of gender and sexuality, and of knowledge and subjectivity" (8).

  • Knowledge in the colonial matrix of power was a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it was the mediation to the ontology of the world as well as a way of being in the world (subjectivity). On the other hand, as far as knowledge was conceived imperially as true knowledge, it became a commodity to be exported to those whose knowledge was deviant or non-modern according to Christian theology and, later on, secular philosophy and sciences" (13).

  • "I am stating that the colonial matrix of power is the very foundational structure of Western civilization" (16).

  • "We have thus changed epistemic terrain to further describe the colonial matrix as a logical structure that underlines the totality of Western civilization; it is a managerial logic that by now has gone beyond the actors who have created and managed it—and, in a sense, it is the colonial matrix that has managed the actors and all of us. We are all in the matrix, each node is interconnected with all the rest, and the matrix cannot be observed and described by an observed located outside the matrix that cannot be observed—that observer will be either the God of Christian theology or the Subject of secular Reason" (16).

  • "There would be no Europe without the discovery and conquest of America and the colonial matrix of power. That is why modernity/coloniality are two sides of the same coin. The colonial matrix is therefore a structure not only of management and control of the non-Euro-American world, but of the making of Europe itself and of defining the terms of the conversations in which the non-Euro-American world was brought in" (66-67).

Decolonial Thinking: the intellectual effort to understand the coloniality inherent within modernity in order to overcome it and delink from the colonial matrix of power.

  • "decolonial thinking and doing focus on the enunciation, engaging in epistemic disobedience and delinking from the colonial matrix in order to open up decolonial options—a vision of life and society that requires decolonial subjects, decolonial knowledges, and decolonial institutions" (9-10).

  • Decolonial thinking and options (i.e., thinking decolonially) are nothing more than a relentless analytic effort to understand, in order to overcome, the logic of coloniality underneath the rhetoric of modernity, the structure of management and control that emerged out of the transformation of the economy in the Atlantic, and the jump in knowledge that took place both in the internal history of Europe and in between Europe and its colonies, as we will see below" (10).

  • "Decolonial thinking and doing starts from the analytic of the levels and spheres in which it can be effective in the process of decolonization and liberation from the colonial matrix" (17).

  • Engaging in decolonial thinking means confronting the imperial privileges of imperial/ global linear thinking, not to resist but to re-exist in building decolonial futures" (90).

  • "The first step in decolonial thinking is to accept the interconnection between geo-history and epistemology, and between biography and epistemology that has been kept hidden by linear global thinking and the hubris of the zero point in their making of colonial and imperial differences" (91).

Decolonization: The effort to move away from capitalism and communism by understanding and rejecting the inherent coloniality within these systems. 

  • Decolonization is the horizon of thinking and being that originated as response to the capitalist and communist imperial designs" (Kindle location 453).

  • "The main difference between dewesternization and decolonization, and the main challenge, is not that decolonization rejects what Mahbubani describes as 'modernization.' Instead, the issue and the challenge are, first, to have that level of comfort in a noncapitalist economy, that is, how to modernize, in Mahbubanis' s word, without reproducing coloniality in such a way that not only the middle class enjoys certain basic standards of living, but also the entire planet. The second issue is that there is no essential connection between electricity, clean water, telecommunication, and so forth, and modernity. These connections are not essential, but arbitrary. For Mahbubani the problem is that these arbitrary connections have been naturalized; their arbitrary nature has been obscured and, within the ideological projects of westernization, has been made to appear part of the natural unfolding of history (e.g., modernity)" (47).

  • "They made visible the hidden face of modernity, that is, coloniality. Therefore decolonization became a choice by those who needed to delink rather than a decision of those who were in a condition to marginalize" (52).

  • “'Decolonization' describes, from the perspective of non-aligned states, their struggles to detach themselves from both capitalism and communism. Decolonization is a 'third option,' but not in between democracy and socialism, capitalism and communism. It is an option that implies the decolonization of democracy and socialism and, hence, capitalism and communism. It describes a period and refers to a complex scenario of struggles that today have become an object of study for historians, political scientists, economists, and international law scholars" (53).

  • "The epistemic break introduced by 'decolonization' was spatial rather than temporal. Decolonization departed from both capitalism and communism and opened up a disobedient 'third way' delinking from both" (59).

Global Linear Thinking: Conceptualizing the world in terms of the boundaries created by imperialization. 

  • "An unintended consequence of global linear thinking was the coming into being of decolonial thinking. Global linear thinking (one of the basic historical foundations of international law and Westernization) describes—in Carl Schmitts' s conceptualization of history—the imperial partition of the world since the sixteenth century" (78).

  • "when the scramble for Africa among Western European states led toward the First World War, global linear thinking mapped not only the land and waters of the planet, but also the minds" (78-79).

  • "While global linear thinking is imperial, the consequences of tracing lines to divide and control the world are not the same everywhere. I see at least three dimensions of global linear thinking that prompted, nonintentionally, the emergence of decolonial thinking" (83).

  • "Global linear thinking and doing created a different scenario, wherein the political was defined in the struggle between imperial designs and local histories" (286).

Modernity: A complex narrative rooted in Europe that builds Western civilization by highlighting its achievements and highlighting the "darker" side, which is coloniality. Modernity is dependent on coloniality, and you can't have one without the other. 

  • "'modernity' is a complex narrative whose point of origination was Europe; a narrative that builds Western civilization by celebrating its achievements while hiding at the same time its darker side, 'coloniality.' Coloniality, in other words, is constitutive of modernity—there is no modernity without coloniality. Hence, todays' s common expression 'global modernities' implies 'global colonialities' in the precise sense that the colonial matrix of power is shared and disputed by many contenders: if there cannot be modernity without coloniality, there cannot either be global modernities without global colonialities" (2-3).

  • "In the name of modernity (the Renaissance version), colonization of space first and of time later (see chapter 4) were the two main strategies (or technologies if you wish) of management and control" (28).

  • "This sense of “newness” will become one of the anchors of all rhetoric of modernity, from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first" (79).

  • "The idea of modernity needed its own tradition in order to be distinguished as modernity. Thus while modernity was established by inventing its own tradition (Middle Ages and Antiquity) and colonizing time, it so happens that in the colonization of space the rhetoric of modernity was used to disavow the legitimacy of the “traditions” (invented in the process of inventing modernity) of civilizations that were colonized. It was by means of the concept of time that cultural differences were classified according to their proximity to modernity or to tradition. The discourse on cultural differences hides the logic of coloniality that the discourse on the colonial and imperial differences displays" (160).

  • "One way to decolonize modernity is to move toward undoing the pair 'modernity and tradition'" (180).

Arturo Escobar
("networks" 2008)

In the chapter "networks" from his book Territories of Difference, Escobar discusses social organization in the context of digital technologies and social movements. The framework of interaction in these spaces is a relational model where there is a mutual exchange of knowledge and ideas. He uses assemblages theory to connect the different networks, which include the network of local knowledge production and the network of global economies and politics among many others. Networks in Escobar's view aren't comprised solely of information, but instead, they also consist of many embodied aspects as well as factual information. 

Important Terms

Advocacy networks: NGOs, foundations, groups, etc. that have a common set of values.

  • "They operate through information sharing and 'frame-alignment'--the construction of shared frames of meaning; they link local, national, and transgovernmental political arenas" (271).

Assemblages: wholes whose properties emerge from interactions between parts. An assemblage can be anything; for example, 

interpersonal networks, cities, markets, or nation-states.

  • "From a network perspective, the biodiversity conservation movement exemplifies well the 'small worlds' created by networks. The basic architecture is decentralized, although with important elements of hierarchy--an assemblage with some key hubs that give shape to much of the network activity" (283).

  • "This micropolitics [of the production of knowledge] consists of practices of mixing, reusing, and recombining knowledge and information" (273). 

  • "Interpersonal networks may give rise to larger assemblages like the coalitions of communities that form the backbone of many social justice movements" (288). 

Self-Organization: not a process that happens on its own. The movement is a result of the intersection of recurrent activities and surrounding conditions.

  • "Self-organization here does not mean an automatic process that happens by itself, regardless of context; on the contrary, it often entails aspects that are both dependent and independent of context and environment, self-organized and other-organized, with both linear causality and nonlinear explanations, in which agents and structures are inseparable" (260).

  • "An activists decision to join a movement often results from a combination of intuitive, emotional and rational considerations, but it happens more by 'drift' toward attractive situations or agents than by a fully explicit set of decisions" (261).

Theory in Action

The theories Escobar presents in "networks" can be seen in action when looking at non-governmental organizations (NGOs). First of all, an NGO itself is an advocacy network that shares a common set of values. NGOs take those values and use them as a platform from which they communicate with other organizations and government bodies in order to effect change. In addition, the networks that NGOs create are assemblages. These assemblages can be local; for example, interpersonal networks of the people who work for the NGO or the local network of other allied organizations. The assemblages can also be global and consist of a network of organizations from across the globe who work together towards a common goal. Finally, self-organization plays a large part in the formation of NGOs. The movement or change that they are working towards wasn't the result of conscious action by a single person. Rather, the movement formed as a result of recurrent activities and other conditions that encouraged activists to get involved and work towards the particular cause that the NGO addresses. 

Bruno Latour
(Reassembling the Social 2005)

In Reassembling the Social, the main argument Latour makes is that the social doesn't already exist, but is instead formed by networks that can be traced. The social in this case isn't just human "actors" but encompasses all things including objects. He also argues that there isn't one "social context" or "societal domain" where interactions happen. For Latour, the word social shouldn't be used to describe a place, instead, it should be the collection of connections that exist between things (both people and objects). He also introduces Actor-Network-Theory, which is a framework that can be used to understand the social and the connections within it. 

Important Terms

ANT: Actor-Network-Theory is a framework that can be used to understand how people, technologies, and objects interact. It looks at the connections between an actor and the objects, people, and technologies that compose their network in order to see how the social (culture, knowledge, etc.) was formed. 

  • "Alas, the historical name is ‘actor-network-theory’, a name that is so awkward, so confusing, so meaningless that it deserves to be kept. If the author, for instance, of a travel guide is free to propose new comments on the land he has chosen to present, he is certainly not free to change its most common name since the easiest signpost is the best—after all, the origin of the word ‘America’ is even more awkward" (9).

  • "The choice is thus clear: either we follow social theorists and begin our travel by setting up at the start which kind of group and level of analysis we will focus on, or we follow the actors’ own ways and begin our travels by the traces left behind by their activity of forming and dismantling groups" (29).

  • "Action is not done under the full control of consciousness; action should rather be felt as a node, a knot, and a conglomerate of many surprising sets of agencies that have to be slowly disentangled. It is this venerable source of uncertainty that we wish to render vivid again in the odd expression of actor-network" (44).

  • "ANT is simply the realization that something unusual had happened in the history and sociology of scientific hard facts, something so unusual that social theory could no more go through it than a camel through the eye of a needle" (106).

  • "you can provide an actor-network account of topics which have in no way the shape of a network—a symphony, a piece of legislation, a rock from the moon, an engraving. Conversely, you may well write about technical net- works—television, e-mails, satellites, salesforce—without at any point providing an actor-network account" (131).

  • "The word ‘interaction’ was not badly chosen; only the number and type of ‘actions’ and the span of their ‘inter’ relations has been vastly underestimated. Stretch any given inter-action and, sure enough, it becomes an actor-network" (202).

Networks: the collection of mediators (people, places, objects) that influence the actor.

  • "the key question for a social science is to decide whether it tries to deduce from a few causes as many of the effects that were there ‘in potentia’, or whether it tries to replace as many causes as possible by a series of actors—such is the technical meaning that the word ‘network’ will later take" (59).

  • "To pursue the metaphor of the supermarket, we would call ‘social’ not any specific shelf or aisle, but the multiple modifications made throughout the whole place in the organization of all the goods—their packaging, their pricing, their labeling—because those minute shifts reveal to the observer which new combinations are explored and which paths will be taken (what later will be defined as a ‘network’)" (65).

  • "a string of actions where each participant is treated as a full-blown mediator. To put it very simply: A good ANT account is a narrative or a description or a proposition where all the actors do something and don’t just sit there. Instead of simply trans- porting effects without transforming them, each of the points in the text may become a bifurcation, an event, or the origin of a new translation. As soon as actors are treated not as intermediaries but as mediators, they render the movement of the social visible to the reader. Thus, through many textual inventions, the social may become again a circulating entity that is no longer composed of the stale assemblage of what passed earlier as being part of society" (128).

  • "the network does not designate a thing out there that would have roughly the shape of interconnected points, much like a tele- phone, a freeway, or a sewage ‘network’. It is nothing more than an indicator of the quality of a text about the topics at hand.182 It qualifies its objectivity, that is, the ability of each actor to make other actors do unexpected things. A good text elicits networks of actors when it allows the writer to trace a set of relations defined as so many translations" (129).

  • "network is an expression to check how much energy, movement, and specificity our own reports are able to capture. Network is a concept, not a thing out there. It is a tool to help describe something, not what is being described. It has the same relationship with the topic at hand as a perspective grid to a traditional single point perspective painting: drawn first, the lines might allow one to project a three- dimensional object onto a flat piece of linen; but they are not what is to be painted, only what has allowed the painter to give the impression of depth before they are erased. In the same way, a network is not what is represented in the text, but what readies the text to take the relay of actors as mediators" (131).

Actor: the person or thing that is being acted upon by mediators.

  • "you have ‘to follow the actors themselves’, that is try to catch up with their often wild innovations in order to learn from them what the collective existence has become in their hands, which methods they have elaborated to make it fit together, which accounts could best define the new associations that they have been forced to establish" (12).

  • "Actors do the sociology for the sociologists and sociologists learn from the actors what makes up their set of associations" (32).

  • "An ‘actor’ in the hyphenated expression actor-network is not the source of an action but the moving target of a vast array of entities swarming toward it. To retrieve its multiplicity, the simplest solution is to reactivate the metaphors implied in the word actor that I have used so far as an unproblematic placeholder" (46).

  • "To use the word ‘actor’ means that it’s never clear who and what is acting when we act since an actor on stage is never alone in acting. Play-acting puts us immediately into a thick imbroglio where the question of who is carrying out the action has become unfathomable" (46).

  • "Uncertainty should remain uncertain throughout because we don’t want to rush into saying that actors may not know what they are doing, but that we, the social scientists, know that there exists a social force ‘making them do’ things unwittingly. Inventing a hidden social drive, an unconscious, would be a sure way of reintroducing this ether of the social that we try to dispense with. Not because actors know what they are doing and social scientists don’t, but because both have to remain puzzled by the identity of the participants in any course of action if they want to assemble them again" (47).

  • "Just as actors are constantly engaged by others in group formation and destruction (the first uncertainty), they engage in providing controversial accounts for their actions as well as for those of others" (47).

  • "Actors have many philosophies but sociologists think they should stick to only a few. Actors fill the world with agencies while sociologists of the social tell them which building blocks their world is ‘really’ made of. That they often do this for high-minded reasons, to be ‘politically relevant’, to be ‘critical’ for the good of the actors they wish to ‘free from the shackle of archaic powers’, does not reassure me. Even if it were excellent politics, which it is not as we shall see, it would still be bad science" (52).

Social: not something that already exists, but something that must be formed through networks.

  • "there is nothing specific to social order; that there is no social dimension of any sort, no ‘social context’, no distinct do- main of reality to which the label ‘social’ or ‘society’ could be attributed; that no ‘social force’ is available to ‘explain’ the residual features other domains cannot account for; that members know very well what they are doing even if they don’t articulate it to the satisfaction of the observers; that actors are never embedded in a social context and so are always much more than ‘mere informants’; that there is thus no meaning in adding some ‘social factors’ to other scientific specialties; that political relevance obtained through a ‘science of society’ is not necessarily desirable; and that ‘society’, far from being the context ‘in which’ everything is framed, should rather be construed as one of the many connecting elements circulating inside tiny conduits" (4-5).

  • "social, for ANT, is the name of a type of momentary association which is characterized by the way it gathers together into new shapes" (65).

  • "The British Empire is not only ‘behind’ Lord Kelvin’s telegraph experiments, it is also given a reach, a faster reaction time, a durability it will never have without the tiny cables laid out on the ocean. Kelvin’s science creates, in part, the Empire, which is no longer in the background manipulating him unwittingly but made to exist by telegraph wires that are turned into full-blown mediators It is this reversal in causality that ANT tried to register first for science and technology and then for every other topic.This is where it got the strange idea that the social was to be explained instead of providing the explanation. We all began to wonder: if we were good enough at describing so many mediators, we would realize that there is no need anymore for a society that lies ‘behind’" (108). 

  • "I can now state the aim of this sociology of associations more precisely: there is no society, no social realm, and no social ties, but there exist translations between mediators that may generate traceable associations" (108).

Elijah Anderson
("The Cosmopolitan Canopy" 2004)

The main argument that Elijah Anderson is making in "The Cosmopolitan Canopy" is that people behave differently when they are inside "cosmopolitan canopies" than they do in other spaces. Under this canopy, people are more civil, they feel more free to interact with one another, they take the time to eavesdrop and people-watch, and they engage in "folk-ethnography." There can be separate canopies within the one larger cosmopolitan canopy, and the behavior within them will vary depending on the level of intimacy. The more intimate a space, the more freely people will converse and interact with others. 

Important Terms

Cosmopolitan Canopy: a relatively busy semi-public setting where people are encouraged to behave themselves and act civilly towards others.

  • "Within this canopy are smaller ones or even spontaneous canopies, where instantaneous communities of diverse strangers emerge and materialize—the opportunities or openings provided by fascinating tidbits of eavesdropped (or overheard) conversation. There can be smaller canopies within a larger cosmopolitan canopy" (15).  

  • "When diverse people are eating one another’s food, strangers in the abstract can become somewhat more human and a social good is performed for those observing. As people become intimate through such shared experiences, certain barriers are prone to be broken" (17).

  • "One encounters a varied assemblage under the Terminal’s canopy: unobtrusive security guards, both black and white; retired people; teenagers who gather with their friends to hang out; twenty-somethings who come to meet members of the opposite sex; homeless people who gravitate to the market for shelter, food, and the unhindered use of public bathrooms; and business executives and workers from nearby office buildings who make up the lunch crowd" (18).

  • "When taking a seat at a coffee bar or lunch counter, people feel they have some- thing of a license to speak with others, and others have license to speak with them. Strikingly, strangers engage in spontaneous conversation, getting to know one another as they do" (18).

  • "The local neighborhoods from which they come and through which they must travel are publicly known for their racial and ethnic tensions. Because of this, the denizens of the most public spaces, spaces defined by civility as being within the cosmopolitan canopy, put an active, if unacknowledged, premium on up-close observations of others, including inadvertent eavesdropping and what are in effect informal studies of the local people" (22).

  • "Essentially, cosmopolitan canopies allow people of different backgrounds the chance to slow down and indulge themselves, observing, pondering, and in effect, doing their own folk ethnography, testing or substantiating stereotypes and prejudices or, rarely, acknowledging something fundamentally new about the other" (25).

Quasi-public: a sub-zone within Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia that is less encouraging for social interactions and may even be off-putting.

  • "And although the amount and quality of interaction are always a matter of person-to-person negotiation, numerous smaller quasi-public venues can be found all over the city where strangers coexist for a brief time with a kind of closeness bordering on intimacy" (23).

  • "In the outpatient waiting room of the local university hospital, among computer screens, alcoves, plastic chairs, coffee wagon, and reception desk, people have slowed down as they kill time waiting for the bureaucracy to go through its motions. This is an ideal setting in which to observe more relaxed, quasi-public race relations. What one observes is that while some people might like to group themselves with others who are of a similar race, here, people sit where they can and tend not to go to the extra trouble of such racial sorting" (24).

Intimate: a sub-zone within Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia that is more socially encouraging.

  • "In the more intimate settings within the canopy, such as at one of the numerous lunch counters, people often feel welcome and secure enough to relax, even to the point of engaging complete strangers in conversation. In these circumstances, people carry on their business but also engage in folk ethnography and formulate or find evidence for their folk theories about others with whom they share the public space" (21).

  • "The more intimate the space, the more chance there is for up close 'fieldwork,' including direct and indirect observation and eavesdropping. Such places are important settings for diverse strangers to 'learn' how to get along with one another, albeit at times superficially" (23). 

  • "While the jazz club is a special experience, with complete strangers participating in a collective entertainment and artistic production, intimate spaces of a different sort proliferate with the boom of the franchise business. More generally, they include the Starbuckses and McDonaldses of the world, places where complete strangers congregate and observe one another but may not feel as connected as people do at a jazz club. Through people watching and eavesdropping in a tight space, they may leave with strong impressions and stories of other people’s lives, truncated and fleeting as they may be, which serve to shape their gossip, not simply about individuals but about the groups these strangers seem to represent" (24).

People watching: listening in on conversations and observing the actions of those around you.

  • "Under the cosmopolitan canopy, whether quasi-public or intimate, people seem to have some special need to observe the social setting closely; for many, people watching is a common pastime, and for some, it has risen to an art form" (28).

  • "As they are exposed, others are exposed to them. And especially in the smaller settings, they can eavesdrop, look people over, and more closely observe people who are strange to them, whose behavior they previously could only imagine" (29).


Theory in Action

The ideas and concepts presented by Anderson in "The Cosmopolitan Canopy" are easily observed in everyday life. For example, imagine a graduate student working on a paper at a local coffee shop. It is finals week, so the shop is full of people and there are very few free tables or other places to sit. The location itself is a cosmopolitan canopy because it is a public space where there are implicit rules that everyone abides by, such as not speaking to someone with their headphones in, waiting in line to order coffee, and avoiding loud conversations so that those who are working on assignments are able to focus. This space also allows people from different backgrounds to interact and observe one another. For instance, college students who are studying share this space with professionals grabbing a cup of coffee before work. It is also a common occurrence for strangers to interact with one another as they share tables to make use of the limited amount of space. Additionally, people-watching is an accepted practice in this type of location. For example, students who need a break from their studies may look around at others and listen into the conversations around them without a fear of being called out by those who they are listening in on. 


Gayatri Spivak
("Can the Subaltern Speak?" 1988)

In her essay "Can the Subaltern Speak," Spivak is making the argument that post-colonial studies and and its inherently Western perspective silences the non-Western "Other." She is questioning how research can be conducted on the subaltern without reinforcing colonialism. She goes on to argue that all research is somewhat colonial because you are studying something that is unknown or "other" in order to gain knowledge that can be brought back to your field of study.  One of her main arguments is that it is impossible for the subaltern to speak because Western academia is unable to engage with anything outside of the existing structures. 

Important Terms

Strategic Essentialism: A strategy used by marginalized groups where they set aside their differences and represent themselves as a homogenous group in order to create societal change. They strategically "essentialize" themselves for a specific purpose

  • ​"Against the possible charge that his approach is essentialist, Guha constructs a definition of the people (the place of that essence) that can be only an identity-in-differential. He proposes a dynamic stratification grid describing colonial social production at large" (26).

Subaltern: Populations that exist socially, politically, and geographically outside of a certain hegemonic power structure. In post-colonial terms, the subaltern would any group that has limited to no access to cultural imperialism. 

  • "In subaltern studies, because of the violence of imperialist epistemic, social, and disciplinary inscription, a project understood in essentialist terms must traffic in a radical textual practice of differences. The object of the group’s investigation, in the case not even of the people as such but of the floating buffer zone of the regional elite-subaltern, is a deviation from an ideal—the people or subaltern—which is itself defined as a difference from the elite. It is toward this structure that the research is oriented, a predicament rather different from the self- diagnosed transparency of the first-world radical intellectual" (27).

  • "For the ‘true’ subaltern group, whose identity is its difference, there is no unrepresentable subaltern subject that can know and speak itself; the intellectual’s solution is not to abstain from representation. The problem is that the subject’s itinerary has not been traced so as to offer an object of seduction to the representing intellectual" (27).

  • "When we come to the concomitant question of the consciousness of the subaltern, the notion of what the work cannot say becomes important. In the semioses of the social text, elaborations of insurgency stand in the place of ‘the utterance.’ The sender—‘the peasant’—is marked only as a pointer to an irretrievable consciousness. As for the receiver, we must ask who is ‘the real receiver’ of an ‘insurgency?’ The historian, transforming ‘insurgency’ into ‘text for knowledge,’ is only one ‘receiver’ of any collectively intended social act" (28).

  • "It is, rather, that, both as object of colonialist historiography and as subject of insurgency, the ideological construction of gender keeps the male dominant. If, in the context of colonial production, the subaltern has no history and cannot speak, the subaltern as female is even more deeply in shadow...." (28). 

Theory in Action

One of the terms that Spivak coined is "strategic essentialism." In our current political and social climate, there are several examples of this theory being put into practice. For instance, the Women's March is an excellent example of strategic essentialism because various groups with different goals and identities came together to make a statement and have their collective voices heard. In the mission statement of the Women's March, it says that their goal is to "harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change." This particular showing of diversity where separate communities came together in order to protest and advocate for social change exemplifies the positive results that can come from the implementation of strategic essentialism.  

Jürgen Habermas
("Modernity versus Postmodernity" 1981)

The big idea that Habermas presents in "Modernity versus Postmodernity" is that modernity hasn’t failed, but is actually just unfinished. He explains that it was the implementation of modernism that was flawed, not modernity itself. He also explains that there was a structural transformation that took place in the public sphere, so now dialogue and conversation are lost and advertising and commercialism have taken their place. Habermas believes that arguments can be settled with open dialogue. Finally, he talks about “colonization of the lifeworld” where the system (capitalism) is encroaching on our shared definitions, relationships, and values.

Important Terms

Modernity: a rejection of normalizations and traditions.

  • "Modernity revolts against the normalizing functions of tradition; modernity lives on the experience of rebelling against all that is normative" (94).

  • "Because of the forces of modernism, the principle of unlimited self-realization, the demand for authentic self-experience and the subjectivism of a hyperstimulated sensitivity have come to be dominant" (95).

  • "In the neoconservative view, those intellectuals who still feel themselves committed to the project of modernity are then presented as taking the place of those unanalyzed causes" (96).

  • "instead of giving up modernity and its project as a lost cause, we should learn from the mistakes of those extravagant programs which have tried to negate modernity" (101).

  • "the project of modernity has not yet been fulfilled" (102).

Public Sphere: a space where people in society can come together and have a conversation where they identify and discuss societal problems.

  • "But with the decisive confinement of science, morality and art to autonomous spheres separated from the life-world and administered by experts, what remains from the project of cultural modernity is only what we would have if we were to give up the project of modernity altogether" (104).

Life-world: the collection of commonly understood definitions, relationships, and societal values.

  • "Modernist culture has come to penetrate the values of everyday life; the life-world is infected by modernism" (95).

  • "I would describe this subordination of the life-worlds under system's imperatives as a matter of disturbing the communications of everyday life (96).

  • "As a result, the distance has grown between the culture of the experts and that of the larger public" (98).

  • "With cultural rationalization of this sort, the threat increases that the life-world, whose traditional substance has already been devaluated, will become more and more impoverished" (98).

Communicative rationality: reason resides within communication, and a consensus can be reached with discussion and argumentation; in this type of communication, there is a balance between efficiency, ethics, and aesthetics.

  • "Communication processes need a cultural tradition covering all spheres--cognitive, moral-practical and expressive. A rationalized everyday life, therefore, could hardly be saved from cultural impoverishment through breaking open a single cultural sphere--art--and so providing access to just one of the specialized knowledge complexes" (100).

Theory in Action

We can examine one application of Habermas' conception of the public sphere and the lifeworld by considering the social media platform Facebook. Habermas would say that colonization of the lifeworld can be seen on Facebook because it has become a platform for advertisers and other profit-seeking ventures rather than a space for discussion and connection between people. In this way, capitalism is encroaching into this space for communication and changing what we as a society value in a social media platform. Additionally, social media sites such as Facebook have become the new way that we as a society engage in the public sphere. In the past, spaces like coffee shops and salons would have been sites of interaction and conversation, but in the digital age, those conversations, and the the public sphere, have moved to online platforms and spaces. 

Stuart Hall 
("Encoding and Decoding" 1980)

Stuart Hall's essay "Encoding and Decoding" discusses the way that messages are created and circulated. He presents a four stage theory to explain this type of communication which includes production, circulation, use (also called distribution or consumption), and reproduction. He explains that each stage is separate and 'relatively autonomous' from the other three. He uses this theory to explain the way messages are disseminated in social situations and argues that each message contains a 'complex structure of dominance' because they were impacted by institutional power relations during each stage of the communication process. 

Important Terms

Decoding: The way that an audience member interprets and understands a message.

  • "If no 'meaning' is taken, there can be no 'consumption.' If the meaning is not articulated in practice, it has no effect" (91). 

  • "The codes of encoding and decoding may not be perfectly symmetrical. The degrees of symmetry—that is, the degrees of 'understanding' and 'misunderstanding' in the communicative exchange—depend on the degrees of symmetry/asymmetry (relations of equivalence) established between the positions of the 'personifications', encoder-producer and decoder-receiver" (93).

  • "it is possible for a viewer to perfectly understand both the literal and the connotative inflection given by a discourse but to decode the message in a globally contrary way. He/she detotalizes the message in the preferred code in order to retotalize the message within some aternative frame of reference. This is the case of the viewer who listens to a debate on the need to limit wages but 'reads' every mention of the 'national interest' as 'class interest'. He/she is operating with what we must call an oppositional code" (103).

Encoding: A system of coded meanings that is combined to produce a message.

  • "At a certain point, however, the broadcasting structures must yield encoded messages in the form of a meaningful discourse. The institutional-societal relations of production must pass under the discursive rules of language for its product to be 'realized.' This initiates a further differentiated moment, in which the formal rules of discourse and language are in dominance. Before this message can have an 'effect' (however defined), satisfy a 'need' or be put to a 'use', it must first be appropriated as a meaningful discourse and be meaningfully decoded" (93).

  • "Unless they are wildly aberrant, encoding will have the effect of constraining some of the limits and parameters within which decoding will operate" (100).

Production: The stage in the process where encoding begins. 

  • "though the production structures of television originate the television discourse, they do not constitute a closed system. They draw topics, treatments, agendas, events, personnel, images of the audience, 'definitions of the situation' from other sources and other discursive formations within the wider socio-cultural and political structure of which they are a differentiated part" (92).

  • "Production and reception of the television message are not, therefore, identical, but they are related: they are differentiated moments within the totality formed by the social relations of the communicative process as a whole" (93).

  • "Reality exists outside language, but it is constantly mediated by and through language: and what we know and say has to be produced in and through discourse" (95).

Theory in Action

Encoding and decoding, also called the process of communicative exchange, is broadly applicable to any situation where you need to send some sort of message to an audience. One area where this model of communication might be ​applied is to the work of UX designers and researchers. To illustrate a possible application, I'll walk through the process of communicative exchange from the perspective of a UX designer. First, the UX designer will encode a meaning into their product, service, or experience based on their technical knowledge, their positionality, and the structural system that they operate in. So UX designers are encoding the way that they think a product will be used (and what the users will get out of that exchange), and that turns into the actual product, which has a particular ‘ideal use.’ Once the process of encoding is complete and production is finished, the product/experience will be circulated. At this point, the user will interact with the product/experience. Decoding, in this situation will not adhere to the ‘ideal use’ of the product, but will reflect the ‘actual’ interaction that the user has. Additionally, the interaction that the user has with the product is based on the same factors of technical expertise, positionality, and structural systems. Hall’s conception of communicative exchange is useful for UX designers because it allows them to conceptualize the relationship between ideal and actual use of a product and identify the areas where designers and users may not be on the same page.

Jean-François Lyotard
(The Postmodern Condition 1979)

In The Postmodern Condition, the main argument Lyotard is making is that the concept of modernity is fundamentally flawed and should be rejected in favor of postmodernity. The key point of postmodernism is that it rejects metanarratives and asserts that there is no one defining narrative that is better than all the rest. He also explains that a postmodern society consists of different language games that will change depending on the culture or context. Finally, he explains that paralogy, or moving against established forms of reasoning, is a better form of legitimation than metanarrative or performativity.

Important Terms

Postmodern: a rejection of metanarratives in favor of other forms of legitimation such as parology.

  • "The object of this study is the condition of knowledge in the most highly developed societies. I have decided to use the word post­modern to describe that condition. The word is in current use on the American continent among sociologists and critics; it designates the state of our culture following the transformations which, since the end of the nineteenth century, have altered the game rules for science, literature, and the arts. The present study will place these transformations in the context of the crisis of narratives" (xxiii).

Modern: the use of a metadiscourse or appeals to a metanarrative for legitimacy.

  • "I will use the term modern to designate any science that legitimates itself with reference to a metadiscourse of this kind making an explicit appeal to some grand narrative, such as the dialectics of Spirit, the her­meneutics of meaning, the emancipation of the rational or working subject, or the creation of wealth" (xxiii). 

Metanarrative: totalizing stories that are used to legitimate knowledge and provide the foundation for judgement in all situations (e.g. "reason" or "truth").

  • "if a metanarrative implying a philosophy of history is used to legitimate knowledge, questions are raised concerning the validity of the institutions govern­ing the social bond: these must be legitimated as well. Thus justice is consigned to the grand narrative in the same way as truth" (xxiv).

  • "The idea of an interdisciplinary approach is specific to the age of delegitimation and its hurried empiricism. The relation to knowledge is not articulated in terms of the realization of the life of the spirit or the emancipation of humanity, but in terms of the users of a complex conceptual and material machinery and those who benefit from its performance capabilities. They have at their disposal no metalanguage or metanarrative in which to formulate the final go and correct use of that machinery. But they do have brainstorming to improve its performance" (52).

Language games: the method Lyotard uses to evaluate the status of knowledge in a postmodern society; they are are a type of communication based on a mutual contract to follow the agreed upon rules (oftentimes unspoken) that govern the different types of utterances.

  • "he [Wittgenstein] calls the various types of utterances he identifies along the way (a few of which I have listed) language games. What he means by this term is that each of the various categories of utterance can be defined in terms of rules specifying their properties and the uses to which they can be put-in exactly the same way as the game of chess is defined by a set of rules determining the properties of each of the pieces, in other words, the proper way to move them" (10).

  • "It is useful to make the following three observations about lan­guage games. The first is that their rules do not carry within themselves their own legitimation, but are the object of a contract, explicit or not, between players (which is not to say that the players invent the rules). The second is that if there are no rules, there is no game, that even an infinitesimal modification of one rule alters the nature of the game, that a "move" or utterance that does not satisfy the rules does not belong to the game they define. The third remark is suggested by what has just been said: every utterance should be thought of as a "move" in a game" (10).

  • "the narrative form, unlike the developed forms of the dis­course of knowledge, lends itself to a great variety of language games" (20).

  • "the pragmatics of scientific research, es­pecially in its search for new methods of argumentation, emphasizes the invention of new "moves" and even new rules for language games" (53).

  • "This double observation (the hetero­geneity of the rules and the search for dissent) destroys a belief that still underlies Habermas's research, namely, that humanity as a col­lective (universal) subject seeks its common emancipation through the regularization of the "moves" permitted in language games and that the legitimacy of any statement resides in its contributing to that emancipation" (66).

Parology: the movement beyond an established and static method of reasoning.

  • "The problem is therefore to determine whether it is possible to have a form of legitimation based solely on paralogy" (61).

  • "Paralogy must be distinguished from innovation: the latter is under the command of the system, or at least used by it to improve its efficiency; the former is a move (the importance of which is often not recognized until later) played in the pragmatics of knowledge" (61).

  • "To the extent that science is differential, its pragmatics provides the antimodel of a stable system. A statement is deemed worth retaining the moment it marks a difference from what is already known, and after an argument and proof in support of it has been found" (64).

Performativity: the new criteria that replaces metanarratives and legitimates science; Lyotard argues that this type of legitimization goes against the interests of research because it may exclude ideas.

  • "The principle of a universal metalanguage is replaced by the principle of a plurality of formal and axiomatic sys­tems capable of arguing the truth of denotative statements; the systems are described by a metalanguage that is universal but not consistent" (43).

  • "I have already made the point that the question of proof is prob­lematical since proof needs to be proven. One can begin by publishing a description of how the proof was obtained, so other scientists can check the result by repeating the same process. But the fact still has to be observed in order to stand proven" (44).

  • "Technology became important to contemporary knowledge only through the mediation of a generalized spirit of performativity. Even today, progress in knowledge is not totally subordinated to tech­nological investment" (45).

  • "But the fact remains that since performativity increases the ability to produce proof, it also increases the ability to be right: the technical criterion, introduced on a massive scale into scientific know­ledge, cannot fail to influence the truth criterion" (46).

  • "This is how legitimation by power takes shape. Power is not only good performativity, but also effective verification and good verdicts. It legitimates science and the law on the basis of their efficiency, and legitimates this efficiency on the basis of science and law" (47).

  • "The performativity of an utterance, be it denotative or pre­scriptive, increases proportionally to the amount of information about its referent one h at one's disposal" (47).

  • "It can not be denied that there is persuasive force in the idea that context control and domination are inherently better than their absence. The performativity criterion has its "advantages." It excludes in principle adherence to a metaphysical discourse; it requires the renunciation of fables; it demands clear minds and cold wills; it replaces the definition of essences with the calculation of inter­actions; it makes the "players" assume responsibility not only for the statements they propose, but also for the rules to which they submit those statements in order to render them acceptable. It brings the pragmatic functions of knowledge clearly to light, to the extent that they seem to relate to the criterion of efficiency: the pragmatics of argumentation, of the production of proof, of the transmission of learning, and of the apprenticeship of the imagina­tion" (62).


In The Archeology of Knowledge, Foucault is describing the way we should approach and speak about history. For Foucault, the way to understand history is to analyze discourses and their relationship to each other. The concepts of discourse and discursive formations are used as a way to conceptualize the conversations surrounding certain topics. Foucault uses the term archaeology to describe this analysis of history, and the analysis is looking at the discourses themselves, not representations, themes, or hidden messages. Finally, Foucault also goes into more detail about the elements that form a discourse: statements and archives.

Michel Foucault
(The Archeology of Knowledge 1969)

Important Terms

Discursive Formation: the communications that combine to create a discourse.

  • "One might say, then, that a discursive formation is defined (as far as its objects are concerned, at least) if one can establish such a group; if one can show how any particular object of discourse finds in it its place and law of emergence; if one can show that it may give birth simultaneously or successively to mutually exclusive objects, without having to modify itself" (44). 

  • "These elements that I am proposing to analyse are of rather different kinds. Some constitute rules of formal construction, others rhetorical practices; some define the internal configuration of a text, others the modes of relation and interference between different texts; some are characteristic of a particular period, others have a distant origin and far­ reaching chronological import. But what properly belongs to a discursive formation and what makes it possible to delimit the group of concepts, disparate as they may be, that are specific to it, is the way in which these different elements are related to one another: the way in which, for example, the ordering of descriptions or accounts is linked to the tech­niques of rewriting; the way in which the field of memory is linked to the forms of hierarchy and subordination that govern the statements of a text; the way in which the modes of approximation and development of the statements are linked to the modes of criticism, commentary and inter­pretation of previously formulated statements, etc. It is this group of relations that constitutes a system of conceptual formation" (59). 

  • "One is not seeking, therefore, to pass from the text to thought, from talk to silence, from the exterior to the interior, from spatial dispersion to the pure recollection of the moment, from superficial multiplicity to profound unity. One remains within the dimension of discourse" (76). 

  • "It can be said that the mapping of discursive formations, independently of other principles of possible unification, reveals the specific level of the statement..." (116). 

  • "To analyse a discursive formation therefore is to deal with a group of verbal performances at the level of the statements and of the form of positivity that characterizes them; or, more briefly, it is to define the type of positivity of a discourse. If by substituting the analysis of rarity for the search for totalities, the description of relations of exteriority for the theme of the transcendental foundation, the analysis of accumulations for the quest of the origin, one is a positivist, then I am quite happy to be one" (125).

  • "A discursive formation is not, therefore, an ideal, continuous, smooth text that runs beneath the multiplicity of contradictions, and resolves them in the calm unity of coherent thought..." (155). 

  • "In short, its purpose is to maintain discourse in all its many irregularities; and consequently to suppress the theme of a contradiction uniformly lost and rediscovered, resolved and forever rising again, in the undifferentiated element of the Logos" (156). 

  • "Archaeological analysis individualizes and describes discursive formations. That is, it must compare them, oppose them to one another in the simultaneity in which they are presented, distinguish them from those that do not belong to the same time-scale, relate them, on the basis of their specificity, to the non-discursive practices that surround them and serve as a general element for them" (157). 

Archaeology: the method Foucault uses to analyze discourses. 

  • "Archaeology tries to define not the thoughts, representations, images, themes, preoccupations that are concealed or revealed in discourses; but those discourses themselves, those discourses as practices obeying certain rules" (138). 

  • "It does not treat discourse as is concerned with discourse in its own volume, as a monument" (138-139). 

  • "Archaeology does not seek to rediscover the continuous, insensible transition that relates discourses..." (139). 

  • "On the contrary, its problem is to define discourses in their specificity..." (139). 

  • "[Archaeology] defines types of rules for discursive practices that run through individual oeuvres, sometimes govern them entirely, and dominate them to such an extent that nothing eludes them; but which sometimes, too, govern only part of it" (139). 

  • "Lastly, archaeology does not try to restore what has been thought, wished, aimed at, experienced, desired by men in the very moment at which they expressed it in discourse..." (139). 

  • "It is nothing more than a rewriting: that is, in the preserved form of exteriority, a regulated transformation of what has already been written" (140). 

  • " is the systematic description of a discourse-object" (140). 

  • "Archaeology also reveals relations between discursive formations and non-discursive domains (institutions, political events, economic practices and processes)" (162). 

  • "Archaeology disarticulates the synchrony of breaks, just as it destroyed the abstract unity of change and event" (176). 

  • "To the questions posed above - Is archaeology concerned only with sciences? Is it always analysis of scientific discourse? - we can now give a reply, in each case in the negative" (195).

  • "What archaeology tries to describe is not the specific structure of science, but the very different domain of knowledge" (195). 

  • "The word archaeology is not supposed to carry any suggestion of anticipation; it simply indicates a possible line of attack for the analysis of verbal performances..." (206).

Archive: the system that governs the collection, formation, and transformation of statements.

  • "Instead of seeing, on the great mythical book of history, lines of words that translate in visible characters thoughts that were formed in some other time and place, we have in the density of discursive practices, systems that establish statements as events (with their own conditions and domain of appear­ance) and things (with their own possibility and field of use). They are all these systems of statements (whether events or things) that I propose to call archive" (128).

  • "The archive is first the law of what can be said, the system that governs the appearance of statements as unique events. But the archive is also that which deter­mines that all these things said do not accumulate endlessly in an amor­phous mass, nor are they inscribed in an unbroken linearity, nor do they disappear at the mercy of chance external accidents; but they are grouped together in distinct figures, composed together in accordance with multiple relations, maintained or blurred in accordance with specific regularities; that which determines that they do not withdraw at the same pace in time, but shine, as it were, like stars, some that seem close to us shining brightly from afar o while others that are in fact close to us are already growing pale" (129). 

  • "[The archive] is the general system of the formation and transformation of statements" (130). ​

  • "The never completed, never wholly achieved uncovering of the archive forms the general horizon to which the description of discursive formations, the analysis of positivities, the mapping of the enunciative field belong" (131). 

  • "Archaeology describes discourses as practices specified in the element of the archive" (131). 

Statement: the basic unit of discourse.

  • "'No one heard' and 'It is true that no one heard' are indistinguishable from a logical point of view, and cannot be regarded as two different propositions. But in so many statements, these two formations are not equivalent or interchangeable" (81).

  • "The speech act is not what took place just prior to the moment when the statement was made (in the author's thought or intentions); it is not what might have happened, after the event itself in its wake, and the consequences that it gave rise to; it is what occurred by the very fact that a statement was made - and precisely this statement (and no other) in specific circumstances" (83).  

  • "A series of signs will become a statement on condition that it possesses 'something else' (which may be strangely similar to it, and almost identical as in the example chosen), a specific relation that concerns itself- and not its cause, or its elements" (89). 

  • "A statement is not confronted (face to face, as it were) by a correlate - or the absence of a correlate - as a proposition has (or has not) a referent, or as a proper noun designates someone (or no one). It is linked rather to a 'referential' that is made up not of 'things', 'facts', 'realities', or 'beings', but of laws of possibility, rules of existence for the objects that are named, designated, or described within it, and for the relations that are armed or denied in it" (91).

  • "At the very outset, from the very root, the statement is divided up into an enunciative field in which it has a place and a status, which arranges for its possible relations with the past, and which opens up for it a possible future. Every statement is specified in this way: there is no statement in general, no free, neutral, independent statement; but a state­ment always belongs to a series or a whole, always plays a role among other statements, deriving support from them and distinguishing itself from them: it is always part of a network of statements, in which it has a role, however minimal it may be, to play" (99).   

  • "Thus, the statement circulates, is used, disappears, allows or prevents the realization of a desire, serves or resists various interests, participates in challenge and struggle, and becomes a theme of appropriation or rivalry" (105).

  • "I now realize that I could not define the statement as a unit of a linguistic type (superior to the phenomenon of the word, inferior to the text); but that I was dealing with an enunciative function that involved various units (these may sometimes be sentences, sometimes propositions; but they are sometimes made up of arguments of sentences, series or tables of signs, a set of propositions or equivalent formulations); and, instead of giving a 'meaning' to these units, this function relates them to a field of objects; instead of providing them with a subject, it opens up for them a number of possible subjective positions; instead of fixing their limits, it places them in a domain of coordination and coexistence; instead of determining their identity, it places them in a space in which they are used and repeated" (106). 

  • "We will call statement the modality of existence proper to that group of signs: a modality that allows it to be something more than a series of traces, some­ thing more than a succession of marks on a substance, something more than a mere object made by a human being; a modality that allows it to be in relation with a domain of objects, to prescribe a definite position to any possible subject, to be situated among other verbal performances, and to be endowed with a repeatable materiality" (107).

  • "In particular, then, the analysis of statements does not claim to be a total, exhaustive description of 'language' (langage), or of 'what was said.' In the whole density implied by verbal performances, it is situated at a par­ticular level that must be distinguished from the others, characterized in relation to them, and abstract" (108).  

  • "To describe a statement is not a matter of isolating and characterizing a horizontal segment; but of defining the conditions in which the action that gave a series of signs (a series that is not necessarily grammatical or logically structured) an existence, and a specific existence, can operate" (108).

  • "Although the statement cannot be hidden, it is not visible either; it is not presented to the perception as the manifest bearer of its limits and characteristics" (110).

  • "In examining the statement what we have discovered is a function that has a bearing on groups of signs, which is identified neither with gram­matical 'acceptability' nor with logical correctness, and which requires if it is to operate: a referential (which is not exactly a fact, a state of things, or even an object, but a principle of differentiation); a subject (not the speaking consciousness, not the author of the formulation, but a position that may be filled in certain conditions by various individuals); an associated field (which is not the real context of the formulation, the situation in which it was articulated, but a domain of coexistence for other statements) ; a materiality (which is not only the substance or support of the articulation, but a status, rules of transcription, possibilities of use and re-use)" (115). 

  • "A statement belongs to a discursive formation as a sentence belongs to a text, and a proposition to a deductive whole" (116).

  • "A group of statements is characterized, then, by a certain form of regularity, without it being either necessary or possible to distinguish between what is new and what is not" (145). 

  • "We have seen that every statement belongs to a certain regularity - that consequently non can be regarded as pure creation, as the marvellous disorder of genius" (146). 

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