Postcolonial excess(es): On the mattering of bodies and the preservation of value in India.
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This thesis postulates the annihilation of the poor as the authorised end of development. This circumstance, I contend, is an effect of the entanglement – that is, the mutual affectability (Barad 2007) – of the human and capital as descriptors of ethical and economic value, respectively. Accordingly, I suggest that the annihilation of the poor by capital under the sign of development is authorised as the preservation of value. I designate this as the postcolonial capitalist condition. The argument unfolds through encounters with three sites that have become metonymic with destruction wrought by development: the state response to peasant revolt against land expropriation in Nandigram, the Bhopal gas leak, and the recently emergent surrogacy market. I offer these as different instantiations of the annihilation of the poor, each of which gives lie to the recuperative myth of development. Here, annihilation proceeds by leaving a material trace upon the body. I follow this trace to argue the indispensability of the body in performing the ideological work of development – that is, to preserve an idealised appearance as human through the eradication of the poor that appear as subaltern – even as it establishes itself as an emancipatory truth. Thus, in this thesis I offer an analysis of the violence of capital not as socio-materially imposed (per Karl Marx) but rather as an onto-materially authorised (following Georges Bataille). As such, I seek to explicate the differential mattering of bodies – as both, appearance and significance – under development.
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