“Un/Identified Remains: The Impolitics of Non-Identity”

  • Frances J Latchford York University
Keywords: Identity, Subjectivity, Non/Identity Politics


For some time now, queer theory has uncritically assumed that identity politics should be rejected outright. Through a theoretical and biographical discussion of Michel Foucault’s resistance against the subject—his attempts at subject effacement—this paper argues that resistance is not realized through non-identity politics alone. It addresses two main questions: does the practice of non-identity sufficiently resist knowledge that (re)presents subjects and what are the social and political possibilities or risks of subject effacement? In response to these questions, it argues that, although the queer politics of non-identity is a mode of resistance, it is not sufficient as resistance in all contexts or fields of knowledge. It suggests that in many contexts, what Foucault refers to as the “infinite possibility of self” or the interruption of the subject cannot be realized through invisibility politics: in many contexts this possibility can only be experienced if and when the subject comes face to face with the presence of an other-subject.

Depuis un certain temps, la théorie queer suppose de façon incontestée que les politiques d’identité devraient être rejetées d’emblée. Par une discussion théorique et biographique de la résistance de Michel Foucault à ce sujet – ses tentatives d’effacement du sujet – cet article fait valoir que la résistance n’est pas atteinte par des politiques de non-identité seulement. L’article aborde deux principales questions : est-ce que la pratique de la non-identité résiste suffisamment aux connaissances qui représentent les sujets, et quelles sont les possibilités sociales et politiques ou les risques de l’effacement du sujet? Pour répondre à ces questions, l’article fait valoir que bien que la politique queer de la non-identité est un mode de résistance, il ne s’agit pas d’une résistance suffisante dans tous les contextes ou les domaines de connaissance. L’article suggère que dans de nombreux contextes, ce que Foucault appelle la « possibilité infinie de l’être » ou l’interruption du sujet ne peut pas être atteinte par des politiques d’invisibilité; dans de nombreux contextes, le sujet peut uniquement faire l’expérience de cette possibilité s’il se retrouve face à face avec la présence d’un autre sujet.

Author Biography

Frances J Latchford, York University

Associate Professor

School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies


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36.2- In/Visibility: Absences/Presence in Feminist Theorizing