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Global Subjects: A Political Critique of Globalization

ISBN: 978-0-7456-3667-2
392 pages
February 2008, Polity
Global Subjects: A Political Critique of Globalization (0745636675) cover image
Taking the plane or sending an e-mail: globalization has become part of the fabric of our daily lives. And yet it is often seen as an impersonal force that is threatening to destroy identities and undermine nation-states. In this major new book, Jean-Franois Bayart offers a radically new account of globalization which challenges the way it is interpreted both by neo-liberals and by the anti-globalization movement.

Bayart argues that globalization is something that we ourselves have created, and the nation-state is actually a product, and not of a victim, of this process. Far from being synonymous with alienation and social disintegration, globalization establishes transnational solidarities and networks which overlap with nation-states without necessarily undermining them. Globalization has also refashioned sexual identities, transforming, through the representation of female and male bodies in the media, in advertising and in the Internet, the way individuals in different parts of the world have learnt to recognize themselves as sexual subjects. It has created new cultures of consumption which stimulate new desires, new techniques and technologies of the body and new forms of tension and conflict.

Drawing on Foucaults notions of governmentality and subjectivation, Bayart develops a rich and illuminating account of how the social relations constitutive of globalization produce new forms of subjectivity, new lifestyles and new moral subjects, from the colonisers and colonised subjects of nineteenth-century India and Africa to the spread of new kinds of transnational and ethnicized subjectivities and lifestyles today.

Spanning two centuries and drawing on his deep knowledge of Africa and the Middle East, Bayart shows that, if globalization is our handiwork, its development and thus our history will be decided on the contested terrains where new ways of life, new modes of consumption and new types of struggle are being invented.

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Preface Yours globally.

Chapter I Two centuries of globalisation: the changing scale of State and capitalism.

The limits of globalisation.

Globalisation: a concept and an event.

The foundational 19th century.

Globalisation: two or three things that we know about it.

Chapter II The State, a product of globalisation.

The dead man’s reprieve.

The privatisation of States as a principle of hybridization and straddling.

The transnational production of national memories.

Frontiers, smuggling and State formation.

A very national ‘international civil society’.

Transnational crime in the service of the State.

The transnational ferment: the latest proofs.

Globalisation, the motor of State formation.

Chapter III The social foundations of globalisation.

The transnational historical fields.

The global web of social relations.

Globalisation as networking?

Chapter IV Globalisation and political subjectivation: the imperial moment (1830-1960).

A point of method.

Colonisation as experience of subjectivation.

Extraversion and coercion in imperial subjectivation.

Chapter V Globalisation and political subjectivation: the neo-liberal period (1980-2004).

Global social institutions and political subjectivation.

The diffuse social practices of global subjects.

The ‘human types’ of globalisation: main roles and American stars.

The ‘human types’ of globalisation from below: the importance of the bit players.

Globalisation: nation-state and individuation.

Chapter VI The global techniques of the body.

Merchandise and subjectivation.

The globalisation and appropriation of merchandise.

Merchandise and the reinvention of difference.

Merchandise and political subjectivation.

Globalisation in movement.

The globalisation of gestures.

The senses of globalisation.

The world in movement.

The global political techniques of the body.

Conclusion When waiting is an urgent matter.

Global Godot.

Globalisation as a liminal condition.

Plenum and void in global governmentality.

Notes to Preface.

Notes to chapter 1.

Notes to chapter 2.

Notes to chapter 3.

Notes to chapter 4.

Notes to chapter 5.

Notes to chapter 6.

Notes to conclusion.

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Jean-Francois Bayart, Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris
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  • A major new book on globalization by one of the leading and most highly regarded political scientists in France
  • Bayart is very well-known for his work on Africa and in this book he uses this breadth of knowledge to develop a fresh interpretation of globalization and its consequences
  • Bayart is the first person to use Foucault’s theories of governmentality and the subject to analyse globalization. This will make the book unique and of great interest
  • Bayart focuses on how globalization has produced new forms of subjectivity, new lifestyles and new moral subjects, from the colonisers and colonised of 19th C Africa and India to the spread of consumerism and advertising today
  • Develops a new approach to globalization which challenges both neoliberalism and the anti-globalization movement
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“This brilliant book by one of France’s most eminent social theorists is the first major work on globalization and the state to bring history, culture and the analysis of power into a single and vivid method. Filled with delicious insights into subjectivity, the senses, crime, fashion and marketing, Bayart offers a trenchant and original argument about the dynamics of a world which combines emergence and emergency. This is historical sociology at its literate best, a must-read for scholars in any field who seek to understand globalization without any preconceptions.”


-- Arjun Appardurai, The New School, New York City


“Bayart’s special way of mixing vivid examples from all over the globe with daring theoretical interpretations breathes new life into the concepts of globalization, governmentality and subjectivation. Irony and perspicacity combine beautifully in this book. With great panache he shows that our everyday practices are part and parcel of an emerging global governmentality. We may feel that globalization is something that happens to us but in many respects we are deeply involved in its making. The message is clear: globalization is us.”


-- Peter Geschiere, University of Amsterdam

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