I’m just about finished with a review of Karan Barad’s book Meeting the Universe Halfway. The book was published back in 2007, but I am still going to shop the review around to see if anyone will publish it. Here’s a small bit from my review dealing with Butler and Foucault:
Barad’s move towards an extended account of performativity is captured in her proposed “posthumanist performative” framework (p. 135). Posthumanist performativity offers an, “approach to understanding technoscientific and other naturalcultural practices that specifically acknowledges and takes account of matter’s dynamism” (p. 135). We might then view Barad’s posthumanism as an appreciation for the way performativity has refigured representational theories of truth (by understanding them as the outcomes of material-discursive practices enacted by situated actors), but also as an expansion for what’s missing in the critical theories of Butler and Foucault (namely, a greater focus on nonhuman materiality). In this regard, one of Barad’s unique contributions is a refiguring of Foucault’s notion of the “apparatus” (or “dispositif”). The critique reads thusly, “for both Butler and Foucault, agency belongs only to the human domain, and neither addresses the nature of technoscientific practices and their profoundly productive effects on human bodies, as well as the ways in which these practices are deeply implicated in what constitutes the human, and more generally the workings of power” (pp. 145 – 146). Further, in terms of Barad’s agential realism Foucault’s discursive practices are extended so that, “agential realism’s posthumanist account of discursive practices does not fix the boundary between human and nonhuman before the analysis ever gets off the ground, but rather allows for the possibility of a genealogical analysis of the material-discursive emergence of the human” (pp. 149 – 150).
If I can’t find a publisher for the review I’ll be sure to post the whole paper up here. In general I am very sympathetic to Barad’s work, and only have a few criticisms here and there.