On the Question of Soul Wounding: Secular Debility, Biopolitics, and Canada's Right to Maim
Keywords:Secularity, metaphysics, biopolitics, coloniality, violence, sovereignty, trauma, debility, Indigeneity
Jasbir Puar has demonstrated that the targeted debilitation of entire racialized populations embodies a contemporary illustration of colonialism’s machine. For Puar, colonizing states exist as biopolitical assemblages of control, the technologies of which instrumentalize a spectrum of debilities and capacities in the service of neoliberal colonialism, which requires maiming populations who are preconditioned for injury to secure sovereign power. This paper stages a conversation with Jasbir Puar to ask what additional insights might be gained about the relationship between colonialism and debility if critical disability scholarship went beyond a Foucauldian biopolitical analysis of the management of life, death, and debility when theorizing colonial violence. This paper thus reads across postcolonial and anti-colonial thought as well as Indigenous theories of trauma to encourage critical disability studies to expand the horizon of its reading practices when engaging these questions. These approaches, I maintain, provide critical insights into sovereign power that biopolitics cannot, including critical attention to non-secular configurations of settler colonial debility that biopolitical theory misses. I aim to show that a locus of Canada’s colonial sovereignty resides in targeted attacks, or “dis-membering,” forms of Indigenous non-secular transcendent self-consciousness—that is, the sanctioned maiming of Indigenous heterogeneous agencies in the service of neocolonial economic designs. In this sense, theories of metaphysics and violence must also be accounted for when attending to debility, colonialism, and sovereign power.
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