Non-Domination, Governmentality and the Care of the Self

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


In this chapter I take issue with the dominant conceptualisation of non-domination within contemporary anarchist movements—non-domination as empowerment. I argue that while this concept is useful in attentiveness to intersectionality and its linking of freedom with equality, it lacks an account of the disciplinarity of the call to empower others and thus of the constitutive character of power. In so doing, non-domination-as-empowerment re-establishes the idea of a sovereign subject, and thus, the humanist essentialism that contemporary scholars, in particular, have been at pains to avoid. I draw on governmentality scholarship to account for the disciplinary character of anarchism’s ‘will to empower’ others. However, while governmentality scholarship is useful, it lacks the tools to differentiate between liberal and illiberal forms of empowerment and thus to articulate a 'more liberating' mode of governing through freedom. In order to articulate a more liberating mode of governing through freedom without recourse to the liberal subject, I draw together Foucault’s later work on the care of the self, late 20th century Black Feminist critique, and contemporary anarchist anti-oppressive practices. The claims I make are based on a four-year autoethnographic engagement with two anarchist social centres and associated projects in Bristol, England.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheories of Resistance:
Subtitle of host publicationAnarchism, Geography, and the Spirit of Revolt
EditorsMarcelo Lopes de Souza, Richard J White, Simon Springer
PublisherRowman and Littlefield International
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-1783486670
ISBN (Print)1783486678
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2016

Publication series

NameTransforming Capitalism
Publisher Rowman & Littlefield International


  • Anarchism
  • social movments


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