Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Tracey Potts, Clutter and place
(2020) The Routledge Handbook of Place, Edited By Tim Edensor, Ares Kalandides, Uma Kothari, pp. 486-495.

DOI: 10.4324/9780429453267-43

This chapter explores the complex relationship between stuff and place as a way of interrogating the contemporary media obsession with decluttering. While the very idea of place connotes order (as in the maxim ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’), place is also made via material means, made inhabitable with stuff. Things might get in the way, becoming clutter, but, equally, there is no getting way from things. By critically examining the five common steps to a decluttered life, the chapter shows how the wildness of things is drastically underestimated in bestselling self-help guides. More, the magic of decluttering and of remaining clutter-free for life can be critically reframed as the operations of what Michel Foucault terms ‘technologies of the self’. Doreen Massey, with her notion of ‘throwntogetherness’, is, further, brought in to offer an object lesson to the likes of Kondo, showing how a messier encounter between people and things might help to allow clutter to speak back to, rather than simply unsettle, place. © 2020 selection and editorial matter, Tim Edensor, Ares Kalandides and Uma Kothari.

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