What can I do with the nothing I have? Forms of non- oppositional struggle against capitalist subjectivation

Plotegher, Paolo. 2012. What can I do with the nothing I have? Forms of non- oppositional struggle against capitalist subjectivation. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (What can I do with the nothing I have? Forms of non- oppositional struggle against capitalist subjectivation)
Vis_thesis_Potegher_P_2013.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the political potential of production of subjectivity by analysing the work of Giorgio Agamben as influenced by Michel Foucault and the micropolitical theories developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Agamben turns micropolitics into a politics of “bare life”, a politics of “de-subjectivation”, of a dispossession of the human subject – a dispossession understood as the contemporary form of life. To theorize a politics of bare life Agamben makes use of the work of Guy Debord, Georges Bataille and Robert Walser: the thesis re-examines these authors in order to rethink de- subjectivation in relation to a transformative political action. Through this re- examination de-subjectivation affirms itself not as an ontological human condition, but as an artistic and political practice of emancipation.
Debord, Bataille and Walser develop artistic practices where their own bodies, subjectivity, lives, become sites of political transformation. This is an art that takes subjectivity as a material to work with, and an art which is political inasmuch as it struggles from within, rather than in opposition to, against the dominant system of capitalism and its control of bodies. The thesis shows how these self-reflective practices have an impact that goes beyond the self, how de-subjectivation is also a process of reconnection of the individual subject with a context, how a micropolitics is always correlated with a politics of instituting and organizing.
The methodology here was developed in response to the material used: this is not just a thesis on de-subjectivation but also, rather practically, an experiment on desubjectivation, where the texts discussed are not just elements to be analyzed but also materials that generate affects, that have an impact on subjectivity. Something like a “subjectivation” of the material used takes place: in the encounter between us and them, new contexts are constructed for Debord, Bataille and Walser, through a contemporary reactivation of the tools they offer. What is to be learned from Debord, Bataille and Walser today, from their ways of organizing micropolitical struggles? How could forms of subjectivation different from the dominant one be created by analysing Debord, Bataille and Walser, but also by exposing ourselves to them?

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


September 2012

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

28 Jun 2013 09:37

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:52



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)