Are “Other Spaces” Necessary? Associative Power at the Dumpster
Keywords:resistance, power, de Certeau, CrimethInc, dumpster diving, associative power, domination, anarchism, geography
AbstractMuch geographic research on resistance lamentably continues to position its subject outside and against dominant groups that appear to hold power. In the wake of Foucault’s influential but problematic 1966 essay on heterotopia, this subject animates not only geographic research but also critical theory and anti-capitalist propaganda. This article interrogates its appearance in de Certeau’s work on tactics and in certain texts distributed by a contemporary anarchist collective, CrimethInc. The first half of the article argues that, although these writings continue to inspire much activism and scholarship, geographers must be critical of their structuralistheterotopological treatment of power and spatial differentiation. The second half of offers a corrective through reexamination of a practice celebrated by CrimethInc – dumpster diving (gleaning food from supermarket trash bins). My analysis throws doubt on accounts of such practices as oppositional or separatist resistance. I show that dumpster divers are not and cannot be isolated from even those arrangements they expressly reject, and I recast dumpster diving as an expression of associative power. The article suggests that precisely because dumpster divers are entangled in power relations, and because their practices of freedom are immanent to practices of maintaining order, they may come to effect change, not simply evade or oppose domination.
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