From sovereignty to technologies of dependency: Rethinking the power relations supporting violence in Brazil
(2019) Political Geography, 69, pp. 65-76.
Discussions in geography and cognate disciplines have considered how contemporary formations of power and politics support and give rise to violence in a range of contexts. Often, these discussions have invoked Foucault’s and Agamben’s analyses of sovereignty as well as governmentality to show how violence is legitimized by state and non-state actors. Focusing on the Brazilian context, the paper argues that this strand of research, though opening up productive analytic pathways, has largely eclipsed a set of powerful technologies that are structured around dependencies. Such issues of dependency have been particularly pronounced in writings that have proposed an ‘embedded’ approach to violence in Latin American urban contexts. Importantly, whereas Foucault- and Agamben-inspired writings have focused largely on how violence is justified and legitimized, studies emphasizing its embeddedness have brought into relief how violence is concealed and removed from systems of accountability. To describe the dependencies enabling such concealment, though, studies of embedded violence have often relied on the notion of ‘political clientelism’. Interrogating the epistemological assumptions associated with this notion, the paper suggests re-framing relations of dependency as constituted through situated technologies that operate, for instance, through performances of benevolence, racialized and gendered discourses or practices of concealment. This, it is argued, opens the view towards other combinations of power than those of sovereignty, discipline and biopolitics that have commonly been focused in the wake of Agamben and Foucault. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd
Agamben; Brazil; Clientelism; Dependency; Foucault; Sovereignty; Violence