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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 08/31/2037
Abstract"Playing Attention: Marxism, Feminism, and the Aporia of Presence" is a Marxist feminist analysis of the role of attention in social reproduction. It considers attention prismatically, joining Marx, Freud, Foucault, and an array of twentieth century feminist theorists. Chapter one close reads undertheorized passages from Marx’s work where attention features and argues that an attention crisis is embedded in the structure of capitalism itself. This chapter forms the foundation for two case studies of “attention techniques” (after Foucault): Silicon Valley “mindfulness” and second-wave feminist Consciousness Raising. The project’s central claim is that attention is the fulcrum for social reproduction — not only a key element of capitalist re/production but the pivot for human development and hence collective life. As Freud’s psychoanalysis teaches us, infants are comprised psychically and corporeally of the attention they are or are not given. What is to be done when the substance used to love, live, to give and receive pleasure, is decimated by capital's plunder? The project ultimately examines the aporia in the Marxist tradition where class consciousness must be realized despite structural conditions preventing such realization. If attentiveness to oneself and others is obstructed in capitalist real subsumption, how can we be present to ourselves enough to make life worth living, much less to modes of resistance? This is a problem at the locus of perception. The project suggests that the redundancy in Marx’s statement that subjects need only to see and take note of what is in front of them is a clue. Could pressing on presence, attention, and awareness itself be key to developing consciousness of exploitative conditions? Attention/presence is needed despite its impossibility. The ability to break with ideology toward a less alienated cohabitation, for the purpose of a more livable present and future, is the central theme of this project.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Gender & Women’s Studies