Friday, March 8, 2013
Origins of Phenomenology in the Enclosures
Whatever else it is, place (as Arturo Escobar notes, page 7 of the remarkable Territories of Difference) is the site of embodiment. Phenomenology emerges as a philosophical movement at the moment of Western Europe's loss of place, necessitating a re-imagination of the body as the last remnant of place lost in the processes of enclosure and colonialism. Today the body itself becomes territory and therefore subject to enclosure, colonisation and primitive accumulation, on the basis of a Cartesian dualism itself first experienced as the exile and deracination of the military camp where Descartes wrote the Discourse on Method. Posited as universal, the body can be extrapolated and exploited as commodity, the universal par excellence of modernity. That universality, applied to land as pure territory (terra nullius), is a rational account of expropriation which in its universality excludes the particularity of indigenous and later mestizo thought. In plce of place, modernity constructs the existential condition, a condition unthinkable in indigenous traditions.