Daniel Schultz reviews A Face Drawn in Sand, Critical Inquiry, 21 July 2021
Rey Chow. A Face Drawn in Sand: Humanistic Inquiry and Foucault in the Present. New York: Columbia University Press, 2021. 232 pp.
In her new book, A Face Drawn in Sand: Humanistic Inquiry and Foucault in the Present, Rey Chow takes aim at the way the global corporate university, with its ever-swelling ranks of administrative managers, employs diversity and inclusion rhetoric as a style of entrepreneurial governance. What we see here is a form of power that patterns pedagogy and various modes of intellectual inquiry through the ruse of identity-based politics; moreover, it provokes and recruits self-defeating apologetic discourse around and about the humanities. Chow warns that efforts to defend the humanities through hyphenated modifiers (digital, medical, environmental, and so on)—appendages designed to establish the validity and use-value of the humanities—end up surrendering the very thing they set out to protect, in other words the open spirit of humanistic inquiry that unfolds without promises of utility or pregiven answers.