The Geopolitics of Distant Suffering: U.S. Government and Faith-Based Responses to "Genocide" in Sudan
Committee ChairMarston, Sallie
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractBuilding on the work of Giorgio Agamben and Michel Foucault, this dissertation addresses how the sovereign's command over life intersects with contemporary global governmentality. Particular attention is given to the geographically sedimented normative dimensions entailed in this intersection. Two broad questions emerge from this focus: 1) How are the perceived and actual boundaries of U.S. responsibility for distant (non-national) life formed; and 2) How do emotional sentiments of care and concern within the U.S. populace for distant life impact the sovereign's geopolitical calculations.The case of Sudan, especially Darfur, is utilized to help illuminate these questions. With regard to sovereign power, I analyze the Darfur related discourse being produced by the U.S. executive. I argue that this discourse is part of a bio-normative geopolitics aimed at maintaining the U.S. claim on the valuation of global life, while at the same time challenging the privileged status of the concept of genocide within our contemporary global governmentality. With regard to the societal constitution of global governmentality, I investigate two partially overlapping cases, one on the globally focused Christian Right and the other on the faith based movement to "save Darfur".In the former case, I consider how norms, values, and feelings of care contribute to the facilitation and construction of geographical knowledge, which, in turn, helps to inform particular engagements with the space of Sudan. In the latter case, the question of caring for distant others is taken up from the perspective of the recent work of Giorgio Agamben, who ultimately posits the inherent need to circumvent sovereign power within any form of normative activism. Addressing this problem, I suggest the possibility of establishing alternative communities of care, which are not only grounded on a recognition of our global intersubjectivity, but also on our common predicament in the face of a universally prevalent sovereign power.