The politics of clinic and critique in Southern Brazil

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Drawing on a historical ethnography of how Brazil’s post-dictatorial psychiatric reforms have shaped young people’s lives, this paper builds on Eve Sedgwick’s analysis of the hermeneutics of suspicion to show that narrow applications of Foucault’s biopower concept nurture forms of resistance to bio-reductionism centred primarily on epistemic deconstruction. To unsettle this hermeneutic, I put young people’s theories of power into conversation with Georges Canguilhem’s concept of the milieu and with feminist scholars’ work on prefigurative politics. I introduce the concepts of threading and unthreading to consider how one subject of biopower, the child-like biobehavioural figure, was continuously being threaded within a specific milieu and in relation to another key figure: the elite angst-ridden ‘storm-and-stress’ adolescent. Young people’s subsequent unthreading and reweaving politics, flourishing in co-construction with what I call the politicizing clinic, illustrate how decolonial pedagogies can incrementally change the patterning of social life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-61
Number of pages19
JournalTheory, Culture & Society
Issue number6
Early online date1 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


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