Counter-Conducts as a Mode of Resistance: Ways of “Not Being Like That” in South Africa
(2016) Global Society, pp. 1-17. Article in Press.
This article argues that a “counter-conducts approach”, drawing on the work of Michel Foucault, can be used to disaggregate the concept of resistance and highlight how some resistant practices work to subvert dominant ways of being. One of the features of a “counter-conducts approach” is an attention to the interpenetration of forms of power and resistance, governmentality and alternative modes of subjectification. Such an approach can be used to interpret forms of social protest in new ways, particularly in terms of the ways in which they facilitate or hinder ethical self-reflection and militant lives. Examples are provided from contemporary South Africa, specifically the Occupy Umlazi protest and a township youth movement known as “izikhothane” or pexing. In very different ways these protests are public assertions that “we are not like that”. As such they each challenge mainstream social values, yet they also have quite problematic implications for progressive politics and radical theorists.